A: My favourite maxim is: 'As a leader you get the behaviour that you accept.' How true this is and how frequently I see business leaders duck away from this. So congratulations on not accepting underperformance. You do, of course, need to be clear what good performance looks like and then motivate and coach your people to achieve this. Of course, if the problem is will and not skill, then move quickly and legally towards replacement.
Make sure you challenge and challenge consistently where you see underachievement, and conversely praise helpful, appropriate behaviour resulting in successful outcomes. The key skill is listening, taking counsel and gathering other options, widely in the organisation and beyond, to ensure that you make the right judgements.
Producing top performances from your team is one of the key reasons that you have been chosen as MD and will be central to the success of your enterprise and thus yourself. All too often I see the toxic effects of not being purposeful in removing problem people efficiently. I find senior management's instincts are usually well founded and the winners are those leaders who face up to underperformance early and decisively.
Q: One of the people I work with I find is just plain difficult and unpleasant. I have only been in the role for six months and am loath to move on but I am beginning to dread some of the team meetings.
A: My initial advice is don't run away. In every job team members have varying degrees of pleasantness and you need to work out a strategy to deal with those not been blessed with a degree of courtesy.
First you need to analyse, is it just you or are there others that he is difficult with? If so, have you shared your thoughts with them? It often helps to meet a kindred spirit who also shares your sense of dread. It can also help return a sense of perspective when you next have an episode where you feel belittled.
Is this person obstructive because you are advocating change? Is he threatened? Can you understand his point of view and get him more involved?
And finally how important is he? Is he a key player in the team, a key influencer, or can you just ignore him or work around him, maybe even publicly acknowledge his contrariness eg "And now John, how today would you like to be critical".
By pointing out to him that you will not allow yourself to be rolled over, it might, just might be enough to wake up his self awareness cell.