The lone wolf.  The snarky manager.  The know it all director. The leader who talks about everyone else on the team. The senior team member who smiles but is disrespectful behind your back. The “I did that” when you know darn well you did that Boss.  The downright passive aggressive (Fill in the blank here) person that makes you step back and say, “did they just do that?”

We’ve all had them, and chances are at one point in your career if you’ve run a business or managed a team, you’ve been one if not all of them.  It happens.  The drive for success, meeting numbers and deadlines, and climbing the proverbial corporate ladder breeds this type of behavior.

No judgement zone here – as I said, most of us have done it at one point or another in our careers but successful execs tend to outgrow this early on.  Successful execs realize the power of the team and that being respectful and well, nice, will get them a lot further in life than being snarky and passive aggressive!

Let’s be honest.  It’s not a healthy situation for anyone involved when dealing with someone who puts themselves before others all the time.

Let me share with you an example of what I’m talking about and how I would handle it if given the opportunity!

Valerie is a CEO of a manufacturing firm that deals with parts for the tech industry.  As you can imagine, Valerie is dealing with a very male dominated world.  She’s well known in the industry as being successful, smart, and a nice boss.

Valerie has a great rapport with all her team except sales, who tend to live on an island of their own. They exceed their numbers every year, and clients love them so Valerie hasn’t pushed sales to be inclusive in her company’s culture.  It’s been a problem more than once when her service and production teams complain about how demanding sales is and that they just don’t understand how “things work around here”.   Whenever Valerie approaches Dan on the subject, he pushes back with “I exceeded my numbers, so I don’t see the problem” or “I inherited this problem so don’t blame me”.

Valerie’s Director of Sales, Dan, is coordinating a thank you event for their top clients and decided on having a Bourbon & Cigar shindig.  Valerie has always just let Dan handle these events because again – he’s a lone wolf on his island.  Valerie doesn’t drink nor does she smoke cigars, in fact Valerie just spent the past year investing on a wellness program for her team including the sales people.

Valerie shows up at the event, completely out of place at her own company.  Dan didn’t even introduce her when he got up to thank everyone for being there.

I could go on about Dan, but you get the picture.  Dan is a cancer, is not meshing with the culture of Valerie’s company, nor do they see eye to eye.


  1. Fire Dan and perhaps have mutiny with a mass exodus of a very productive sales team and happy clients
  2. Work with Dan to change behaviors.
  3. Work with Dan to find the better fit role at a firm that aligns more with his values and point of view.

I’m opting for 2, not because I’m an Executive Coach and this is what I do, but because my gut tells me there are some underlying issues as to why Dan acts the way he does.

After meeting with Valerie, I would set up a time off site to meet with Dan. I want to see first-hand what he’s like and get him to talk about his job.  Does he really love his work?  What does he think about Valerie?  Often, I find these employees aren’t being mischievous; they just aren’t thinking, or they are misunderstood – lack of communication.  OR they are miserable in that position and determine they should leave on their own accord.

The key is getting to the root of the problem. What is driving the behavior and then creating a game plan to change it.  Obviously, I would encourage regular meetings with Valerie and Dan where they can come to some common ground.  Valerie appreciates Dan’s work, but doesn’t appreciate his attitude nor his insubordination.

I think this relationship can be saved!  What do you think?  What would you do if you were Valerie?

We are at that point in the year where you both do a little self reflection and also appreciate what is ahead as you approach the new year. I would ask that you also think about those individuals you may have previously managed but who left your team or company to pursue other things. Did you do all you could to help nurture them when they worked for you? Were you transparent and have you been genuine in the relationship after they left. Just because someone doesn’t work for or with you anymore, doesn’t mean they aren’t a valuable connection for you today or in the future. Remember, how you treat others is how others may treat you.