Understanding The Challenges of Difficult People

posted by Administrator on 02/11/2022 in Blog Posts  | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
By Tom Cramer


You are the CEO. It is only when you carry that title that you can understand the almost overwhelming expectations and challenges that come with the role of Chief Executive Officer. From dealing with competitors to balancing financial metrics to seeking the crystal ball for market ups and downs, each day brings additional unknowns to add to the complexities of your job.

It Starts and Ends with People

However, the single biggest aspect of your job is leadership. It is your responsibility to find, recruit, develop, and retain the right team members. You set the direction and priorities they are expected to adopt. It is only with success in attracting and working with the best people that you will achieve the success you and your stakeholders expect and demand. While it is easy to let people’s issues take a second seat while fighting alligators, your long-term effectiveness makes it essential you don’t let that happen.

All well-managed companies are blessed with loyal and competent team members upon whom you can rely. They are the foundation that allows for consistent performance and profitable financial results. As reliable as those contributors are, they must never be taken for granted. Many of the resources at The Brain Trust are focused on these vital members. Our materials are designed to help you ensure your organization’s top performers are identified, recognized, and incentivized. You will also find this is one of the most rewarding aspects of being an effective leader.

At the same time, any business enterprise will include individuals who present a variety of challenges to your leadership. You will also encounter vendors, clients, and even investors who also bring unique relationship challenges. These are the people you often dread dealing with but, for one reason or another, find it necessary to do so.

The Difficult Person: Facing the Issue

The most important step you can take in dealing with difficult people is to consciously accept that they exist, and then adopt a proactive attitude towards dealing with them. That may sound too simplistic. However, take a moment to stop and think. It is human nature to brush aside some difficulties rather than deal with them head-on. That is often the case with such “hard to get along with” people. It seems like it is just easier to let the issue fester than to deal with it with a solution in mind.

Only by consciously recognizing this requirement of leadership can you put the difficult person issues in the right categories. This takes certain objectivity you may find difficult. It is a perfect topic to discuss with advisors. This process includes assessing what your role, if any, is in creating the difficulty. That assessment includes determining any other reasons for the perceived conflict. It also requires that you carefully evaluate the contribution to your company’s ongoing success this individual represents. 

The difficult person presents special challenges because you must methodically choose a course of action after that careful assessment. 

The Proactive Response

The one option not available to you as CEO is to simply ignore the difficult person and their impact on your team’s efforts. By their very nature, the person who presents those relationship challenges is often sand in the gears of your organizational structure.

You may determine that a difficult person is essential to your company as a key stakeholder, a valuable creative contributor, a prime client, or for other reasons. If so, you must develop a strategy and process for mitigating their negative impact while maximizing their positive contribution. We discuss this approach further in our article, Dealing with Difficult People.

The other option you may feel you must choose is eliminating the individual from your organization or business environment. Again, this should occur only after a careful and thoughtful assessment and developing the appropriate plan of action. If you decide it is best for your team – and that individual – to part ways, act as soon as practical. If you have reached that conclusion, you will find several helpful tips in our discussion, Eliminating Disruptive Influences.

The Takeaway

Difficult people are a fact of life. Your role as CEO requires a proactive stance in choosing which of these challenges requires special attention or elimination from your work environment.