The company you keep

BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - April 25, 2021 - 12:00am

People leaving your company? Partners breaking up?

Churches experiencing massive fallout because members are going somewhere else?

Did people unfollow you on your FB or IG pages?

Are you losing a valued customer or client? (boy, this one is painful).

They will never tell you this, and in fact, some would hide their sentiment under the cover: “No one is indispensable!” But the personal and secret fear of leaders is losing good people. This can be heart-wrenching for many leaders, and we do lose good people, don’t we?

I have lost people who told me that there was a more significant opportunity for them to grow somewhere else, and though it can be difficult for me, I know I have to wish them well and let them go without any ill-feeling. Today, these people still keep in touch with me. Others have done business with me too. They have attained their level of success  and I am happy for them.

When leaders get together and discuss the possibilities of capable people leaving, eventually, you may hear many of them say in their private meetings, “but we cannot afford to lose people.” This may not be accurate, and this may not even be true. You have to qualify the statement. Sometimes leaders say they do not want to lose people because they have to take up the slack and work a little more.

Sometimes they do not want to lose people because they do not see that when certain people are gone and replaced by more capable ones, they get better. The truth is that there are certain kinds of people you cannot afford to keep as they rob your company of opportunities for growth and, worst, may cause long-term irreparable damage in the future.

Here is a list of them:


It may sound harsh for me to say, even as I repeatedly point this out in the leadership training program I give. When it comes to people, and the issue is skills and incompetence, train them. But when it comes to integrity issues, let them go. Right away! Predictable things begin to happen. You need to protect your database. Then there will be misinformation, slander, and badmouthing that would come from the person who was let go. Remember: it is not a competence, education, or skills issue; it is a character issue.


Leaders welcome feedback. The celebrated author Ken Blanchard says: “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Leaders get to learn and know how to address problems and improve through feedback, but some rarely have anything to say and would continuously criticize. Leaders need to determine to what these critics contribute. If these “critics” are so because they are critical thinkers and want you to improve, they are valuable resources. They are not your enemies. But those who have absolutely nothing to contribute and yet have tons of negative things to say will lower your people’s morale and dampen their spirits, negatively affecting their work and productivity.


This is a significant headache for leaders. In front of you, they will say nothing to oppose you and will even give the impression as if they agree. Still, when the crucial time comes, you discover that they have not done what was told and would either quietly or loudly oppose you, and meanwhile, significant harm has occurred. Opposition to specific initiatives or ideas is expected, but opposition to everything is destructive and dysfunctional.


Although this is a competence issue, and as I said earlier, they need to be retrained, retooled, or reskilled. Still, if you have people in your team who are good with excuses and short on performance and deliverables, then the tendency of this is that it delays, holds up, and prevents the entire team from advancing. It causes a lot of wasted resources. In today’s economy, you cannot afford to waste resources.

Be careful of the company you keep. If these are the types of people you hang around with and are not doing anything to change the situation, then I have to tell you that this could reflect your inadequacy to lead as a leader. You need to do your job of  leading. Meanwhile, invest your time, energy, and attention on your best people or someone in the middle who would want to grow, and they might surprise you with how they can soar.

(Francis Kong’s highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership Master Class online will have another run this May 17 to19. Develop leadership skills that translate into personal, career, and business growth in the current reality and the post-COVID world. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)

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