Who’s Really The A$$hole?

2 minute read

When we are holding those around us accountable, why is it that we are so often afraid that we’re seen as the a$$hole?

I mean, let’s break this down and actually think about it.


An individual on your team is demonstrating career-limiting behavior—let’s just call him Leave Early Larry. Larry likes to stop working early and get paid for a full day. He does this more days than not. He’s a pretty good guy, you rationalize. He’s got good sense and works pretty hard most of the time. Besides, I don’t want to be a jerk and make a big deal out of it you convince yourself.  So you let him get away with it. More days than not.

Leaders above you on the org chart are tired of reminding the group of employees to put in a full day’s work! And one afternoon, they decide that all the Leave Earlies lined up at the gate before the shift end have had their last warning and they’re sent home early without pay. Possibly for good. Larry is included.

Larry is now out of a job. Did I mention he has a wife and three children at home who depend on him?

Questions for you:

Are the leaders above you the a$$holes because they held him (and the others) accountable to his commitments? Or, are you because you didn’t hold him accountable?

How were you being responsible to Larry in allowing him to check out early…over and over again?

The ironic thing is that the vast majority of the time, we are all truly grateful when someone holds us accountable—when they stand up for us and remind us we are WORTH holding up our end—worth performing at our best.

Yes, sometimes it’s difficult and uncomfortable to be the leader that doesn’t let a bunch of crap slide. The leader that keeps everyone on track and following through.

I reminded a client just today that he’s not the a$$hole. He’s a blessing to his crew. Day after day he shows that being responsible to them is more important than always being liked.

Thank you for reminding me, Tom.