Perhaps it’s a little optimistic to believe you will always like everyone on your team!

But what do you do when you really dislike someone who reports to you, knowing that her leadership development is part of your responsibility as a leader? This is a question that I am quite often asked.

Here are some ideas for when you don’t like one of your people:

  • Watch how she positively interacts and engages with others. Focus on observable positive behaviours and key strengths.
  • Listen to understand what motivates her. Consider her goals and problems. Reflect on how she might view you, her team members and their work. How does her perspective provide unique and valuable insight not offered by others in your team?
  • Change how you react to challenging behaviours. Rather than responding quickly in the moment, take a breath. Regroup and redirect your energy by eliciting the positive intention behind her behavior.
  • Meet regularly to learn more. Connection builds understanding.
  • Reach out. Know something about what she does outside the office. Watch and listen to how skilled, motivated and interesting she can be when she connects to something that’s really important to her.

The leader with the most flexibility wins! You are the leader. The more behavioural flexibility you are able to muster, the more successful you will be at leading and developing others.

How will some flexibility enhance your leadership today? I would love to hear your strategies on leading people you struggle to connect with – leave a comment here.

Have an extraordinary day!



Found this useful? This blog is an edited extract from my new book ‘Developing Direct Reports: Taking the guesswork out of leading leaders’ due out on 14 August.

Written for leaders who lead leaders, this book addresses the 12 most common, globally recognised leadership derailers, and will help you to:

  • understand what’s really driving the dysfunctional behaviours you observe
  • become a catalyst for behaviour change that sticks
  • take the guesswork out of developing your direct reports

Together with my co-authors Anneli Blundell and Belinda Cohen, I look forward to sharing more with you very soon.


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