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Have you ever had someone on your team who defies your best efforts to lead? No matter what you try, you just can't seem to get the best out of him or her? And as a result, the team never quite reaches its potential?

Everybody faces that situation. It's a part of leadership. But how do you solve it? What do you do with the person who is too tentative to be an impacting part of the team? Or the grandstander who wants glory more than anything else? Or the past high performer who has been in a slump so long that he no longer shines?

Do you cajole them into moving forward? Do you give them a swift kick? Or do you simply show them the door and move on?

If you are a leader, then you have probably spent a lot of time trying to answer those kinds of questions. I know I have. Building an effective team is not an easy task. Being able to do it while including difficult people is even harder. But it can be done.

I believe the key to moving people forward involves four things:
  1. Consider
    The first thing you must do is consider whom you are working with. Whether you are dealing with a difficult person or an all-star performer, you need to know who he or she is. Who is that person as an individual? What motivates him? What does she need?

    Part of the art of leadership is discovering the unique relationship between the needs of the individual and the organization. As the leader, you should already know what the organization needs. Learning about your people is the other part of that equation.
  2. Communicate
    The only way that people will know that you and the organization intend to meet their needs is for you to tell them. The better communicator you are, the more vivid the picture you will be able to create.
  3. Connect
    Once you've figured out what you can do to help the person and told him how you will do it, you need to follow through -- before asking the individual to do things in return for you. If you make your goal to add value first, you will almost certainly make a connection.
  4. Commit
    The last aspect of moving people forward involves commitment - from you and the individual you are leading. People working together ultimately succeed or fail based on their commitment to one another, whether they are in sports, business, or ministry.
Right now you may be saying to yourself, "Okay, the guidelines you've given are fine, but what do I do with my difficult person?"

Over the years, I've found that the most difficult people I've had to lead fall into seven categories. Beginning today and continuing during the next few months, I want to teach you how to connect with, lead, and succeed with those seven most difficult types of people.

If you're ready to begin turning around the people who are bringing down your organization, then start this month by reading about Fearful Fred.

This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's free
monthly e-newsletter: Leadership Wired available at

Author Biography

John C. Maxwell
Web site: Injoy Group
John Maxwell grew up in the 1950s in the small Midwestern city of Circleville, Ohio. John's earliest childhood memory is of knowing that he would someday be a pastor. He professed faith in Christ at the age of three, and reaffirmed that commitment when he was 13. At age 17, John began preparing for the ministry. He attended Circleville Bible College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1969. In June of that same year, he married his sweetheart, Margaret, and moved to tiny Hillham, Indiana, where he began his first pastorate.

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