“His antics were never embraced by coaches and management, but they could be tolerated when Terrell Owens was near the top of NFL leaderboards in receptions, yards and touchdowns. As a potential fifth option on a middling team, he wasn’t worth the headache.” – USA Today
A number of leaders, including Larry Bossidy, the famed retired CEO of AlliedSignal, evaluate team members on two dimensions: performance standards and organizational values. Outstanding teammates exceed performance standards and live the organization’s values simultaneously. They are the “A” players that you can’t live without. Not only do they technically do their job well, they also exemplify what the organization stands for. That may include communicating transparently, adhering to a ‘customer first’ approach, supporting the team relentlessly, or making a difference by taking ownership.
A teammate who occasionally slips on technical performance but always exemplifies organizational values will be given the benefit of the doubt. She may need more training or need to change roles in order to be successful, but she will at least be given an opportunity.
But the guy who doesn’t appreciate the team and openly displays a disregard for organizational culture treads on thin ice. As long as he performs at the top of his game he’ll be tolerated. But once he slips he’s gone. Because without putting up big numbers he’s useless to the team. And you won’t find his teammates rallying around him to try and save him. They’ll turn their back on him… and rightly so.
Ask yourself… are you living your organization’s values? Are you sure you know what they are? If not, ask. Our values are embodied in our Guiding Principles and posted clearly for everyone to see.
T.O. was a performer at one time. No doubt about that. But he couldn’t care less about organizational values and even less about making others around him better.
The end result? He just wasn’t worth the headache.