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An enlightening video will help us answer this question!

How to cope with a toxic person, in a company?

2023 June 28 | by Arduino Mancini Heuristics and biases - Leadership - Selection Interview

Recently a colleague, who works primarily for companies in perpetual search of talent, was puzzled by the content of this video and asked me what I thought about it.

After watching it carefully, I realized that Simon Sinek, the author, had in two minutes challenged many of his beliefs about recruitment: beliefs that with my help he was trying to rebuild.

The title of the video is The Most Toxic Person in the Workplace: for ease of reading, I have also provided the below text.

Watch it carefully, then we will do further consideration together.




I work with the Navy and I have worked for the US Navy Seals.

I asked them:

  • How do you pick the guys that go on Seal Team Six?

Their answer:

  • Because they are the best of the best of the best of the best.

They drew a graph for me. On one side they wrote the word PERFORMANCE and on the other side, they wrote the word TRUST.

The way they defined the terms is Performance on the battlefield and Performance off the battlefield. “Performance on the battlefield” is your skills, quarterly earnings, etc., it’s traditional performance. “Performance off the battlefield” is how you are off the battlefield.

What kind of person are you?

The way they put it is: I may trust you with my life, but do I trust you with my money and my wife. They are Seals. This is what they told me.

Nobody wants this person: the low performer of low trust. Of course, everybody wants this person: the high performer of high trust. What they learned is that

this person, the high performer of low trust,
is a toxic leader and a toxic team member.

And they would rather have a medium performer of high trust, sometimes even a low performer of high trust. It’s a relative scale over this person. This is the highest-performing organization on the planet, and this person [medium performer with a high trust] is more important than this person [high performer with a low trust].

And the problem in business is we have lopsided metrics. We have 1,000,001 metrics to measure someone’s performance, and negligible to no metrics to measure someone’s trustworthiness. And so, what we end up doing is

promoting and bonusing toxicity in our businesses,
which is bad for the long game because
it eventually destroys the whole organization.

The irony is it’s unbelievably easy to find these people [high performers with low trust].

Go to any team and say,

Who is the asshole?

They all point to the same person.

Equally if you to any team and say:

Who do you trust more than anybody else?
Who’s always got your back?
And when the chip is down, they will be with you?

They will also all point to the same person.

It’s the best gifted,
natural leader who’s getting,
who’s creating an environment for everybody else to succeed.

And they may not be your most individual, highest performer, but that person [medium performer with a high trust].

You better keep them on your team.

Now, let’s do some thinking.

The doubts that arise are:

  • what is true for US Navy Seals is equally true for a business.
  • if a person turns out to be toxic in a military environment, could he/she express superlative performance in a profit-driven organization?

Complicated questions that are difficult to answer objectively.

However, I swept away the doubts by thinking back over my forty years experience and the many failures I have seen collected by companies that, in seeking talent, often ended up hiring toxic people.

To the extreme where the toxic person even turned out to be unable to express decent performance.

What to do when you realize that a toxic person has taken root in your team?

As a person who has always been devoted to the valorization of people, I don’t think I can tell you to get rid of them without making a determined effort to bring them back into the ranks.

However, be very careful that the time you devote to his/her rescue is not endless, and that you do not become a de facto hostage to a problematic, if not unlikely, rescue.

Sometimes, acknowledging with brutal honesty that you were wrong can be extremely fruitful.

Don’t you think?


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