Don’t “wuss out”

On Friday, I attended a Vistage webinar featuring Patrick Lencioni, the writer of 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, The Ideal Team Player, and The Motive. Lencioni has a new assessment he has developed called “Working Genius“. It is a great tool for assessing the “right seat on the bus*” for your team members. Assessment requires communication with the team member: letting them know regularly whether they are performing to your expectations. Lencioni said one of the biggest failures of many leaders is that they “wuss out.” I burst out laughing.

The interviewer, Sam Reese, CEO of Vistage also laughed. He asked, “Is that a technical term?” That was what I was thinking, too. Lencioni laughed at that. He said he “wussed out” by avoiding giving feedback on performance by his team. So people were surprised when they got low ratings or were asked to leave. This should not happen. There should be no surprises. According to Lencioni, he had very low “working genius” in Tenacity and Enablement. Becoming aware of your weaknesses gives you an opportunity to address them honestly.

Listen to the excuses you make to yourself.

Lencioni says he made excuses like: I’m too busy, or I don’t have the energy for this. While it may be hard for you, you should constantly and intentionally catch your people doing the right thing, or the wrong thing and comment on It.

The consequence of not making this part of our leadership practice is that you get mad or fire people. Then, they are surprised that you didn’t communicate that it wasn’t working long before you took this action. This is your bad when you have “wussed out” on hard conversations.

When Alan Mulally took over at Ford he realized he had to change the culture quickly to get the results he needed. He told his team that they could opt in to the new way of doing things, or they could opt out. Many on his team changed their behavior and opted in. Those who opted out got a package. As a leader you need to be clear on your expectations and follow through on assessing performance. Yours and theirs.

This week, look at your own tendency to “wuss out”. Where does it show up, when does it show up? Make a commitment to stepping up in one area where it will benefit your success in 2022 and that of your team.


If you are a Vistage member you can watch the webinar and take the assessment. If you are on my groups, you HAVE to do this before our next meeting!


Let me know if you like this new posting time.


  • From Jim CollinsĀ Good to Great