Skip to main content

Are You A Leader Or Are You the Weakest Link?

The weakest link in the company

The quality of your team is only as strong as your least effective member.

This isn’t just a thought exercise; it’s a challenge to LEAD. Think of your least effective employee by name, not to share, but to fully appreciate the impact this individual has on your team and its performance. Your worst employee interacts with your best, your valuable customers, and in fact, your entire organization.

Inaction addressing their subpar performance not only diminishes customer experience but also demoralizes excellent employees forced into mediocrity by less capable colleagues. The resulting workload inequity creates resentment, dissatisfaction and ultimately, a problematic turnover.


“I believe in my capabilities — which some do notice and appreciate! — but it feels like my drive and skill gets taken advantage of over and over.”

I’m Tired of Dealing With Incompetent Co-workers’, The cut, November 2023


Why then do organizations enable underperformance? While often cited, financial reasons are not always the culprit. Frequently, the reason is more personal and entirely within your power to correct.

The question is: are you a leader or are you the weakest link?

Managers might hope for improvement, that others would cover for the under-performer, or customers happily lower expectations. But, hope is not a strategy. Poor performers, especially in customer-facing roles, erode the trust of your customers, create toxic environments and most importantly; irreparably harm a company’s reputation.


“[…] there’s a shared understanding on our team that Ronald is incompetent, so I don’t think I need to speak up. I would desperately like to implement some processes […] However… a lot of these fixes will just add to the additional work that is not part of my job […]. If Ronald leaves (or is fired), I also worry that some aspects of his job will fall to me because I’ve demonstrated proficiency in those areas.”

I’m sick of having to do my incompetent colleague’s work‘, Ask a Manager, January 2024


As a leader in your organization, ask yourself what role(s) you would upgrade, if necessary. Likely, you can quickly name an under-performer and qualify the reasons for termination. Still, the employee remains, often justified by the self-serving rationale of a weak leader. This not only reflects poorly on the employee but even more so on the supervisor’s own capabilities. Identifying and upgrading your weakest employee is one of a leader’s most crucial contributions. Not doing so all but guarantees YOU ARE THE WEAKEST LINK!

Don’t delay, take action.


Who is your worst performing employee and what steps will you take to address this before you are revealed as the weakest link by those you serve?



Share It