Leadership Lessons

John Moore recently shared this fascinating leadership story:

When I was first promoted to a Vice-President, almost immediately, I had to make an extremely difficult decision. There was a regional manager who was on my team that had been given a 90 day action plan. The day I was promoted, his 90 days were up. My boss, along with HR, told me to terminate him. I refused to do so. I was on my second day of the job, and if he was going to be terminated, it should have been done by my boss/hr, and not me. I extended his action plan so that I could make my OWN determination about his ability to do the job. I worked with him. In 6 months, his region went from number 9 to number 3 in my division. 2 years later, he was promoted to a VP and now he is the SVP. This weekend, he called to thank me for believing in him and not firing him. It made me smile.

1. As leaders, never be afraid to RESPECTFULLY push back if you feel you are being asked to do something wrong or unethical.

2. As a leader, you OWN your people. It is your job to do what is right for them.

3. Every now and then, it is not the employee who needs coaching on how to perform, it is the leader, who needs coaching on how to be a leader.

4. Lastly, as a leader, you should always seek to coach people up first instead of coaching them out.

I know a lot of “leaders” that wouldn’t have had the leadership skills necessary to do like John Moore did. They would have folded to HR’s request and let the employee go. No doubt it’s a hard position to be in when you were just promoted and your boss is asking you to do something, but to respectfully push back was worth doing for this boss’ reputation as well.

I loved John Moore’s 3rd point above too: “Every now and then, it is not the employee who needs coaching on how to perform, it is the leader, who needs coaching on how to be a leader.

That’s an important leadership lesson in itself. Sometimes we have to look inward at our own inadequacies before we start pointing the finger at everyone else. That’s what great leaders do.

Have you ever been in a challenging position like this as a leader? What did you do? What did you learn?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Yes, I have been in this position and agree with most of your comments.

    I would proceed with caution in suggesting you “own your employees”. This language perpetuates a less than
    Inspiring leadership style. It would make you very unpopular if you are working in the South…well, probably anywhere. I would suggest you “owe” (not your) “all” employees your time and interest in making them successful. Which also can mean going to bat for them when it is the right thing to do.

  • I had a situation in the late 80’a where I was employed as an office manger. I was only on job for a couple of months when I was asked to fire a secretary immediately. I respectfully advised my manager we had to go by the HR book and give a certain amount time or warnings. He relented and listened to me. But, still in time she was terminated.

  • Kell,
    Good point. I think the idea of being responsible for and caring that much about your employees is a good one, but the idea of owning them could definitely be corrupted in bad ways.

    Nice job sticking to your guns. I try to make sure that I know my employees well enough and that expectations are set well enough that we both know when it’s not working out. That’s a hard goal to achieve sometimes though.

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