Correctional Leadership

Being a leader is much more than taking a group of people from point A to point B. There are many aspects and traits of leadership that a good leader should have. Throughout the majority of leadership blogs we have produced, you will find topics that help you in specific areas, but one area that is often left out of most leadership content is the topic of correction. How do we deal with people who step out of line, who try and go against the grain, or try and cause mutiny amongst the team? Throughout this blog, I will give you some tips of engagement that might just help you restore harmony in order to achieve the end goal.

An illustration that always sticks in my mind is one that involves a chair (feel free to try this with your team). With one person standing on the chair and one on the floor, the objective is for the individual on the chair to pull the person on the floor up on to the chair with them. The objective of the person on the floor is to get the individual on the chair down beside them on the floor. Sounds simple? Believe me, you will need to exercise caution if you are attempting this! Nine times out of ten, the person on the floor wins the battle. That is because it is much easier to bring someone down than it is to build them up. There is a huge lesson to learn from this. A person with a negative attitude, who fails to encourage and inspire, can be very destructive to the culture you are trying to build and the team you are trying to grow.

So, how do we deal with this?

The answer

By using the behaviours that the negative person is failing with, you, the positive, can change their behaviour. By encouraging and inspiring the negative, you begin to invest time in that person and your energy can then be converted by them to produce the behaviours that you desire for your team. Similarly to the common phrase “It takes money to make money”, I want to give you one that is equally as true; “It takes encouragement and inspiration to make someone encouraging and inspirational”. Using these devices to improve the negative persons attitude will not only help you, but everyone on your team as that negativity begins to diminish. A lot of the time we just dismiss the negative person and expel them from the team, but all this really does is pass the negativity to another team and another leader, and they spread the negativity even further afield. Don’t pass on the negativity, change it!

Are There People Who Cannot Be Led?

This is a question that is far too deep for one blog to cover, but we can look at this from the surface. This answer to this question is, no. Everyone, no matter how sour the personality or how big the ego, can be lead. The question in some cases should probably be, “Am I the person to lead them?” Like-mindedness make leadership all the easier. When we are all singing off the same hymn sheet, we all strive towards the same goal at the same pace.

Singing Their Own Song

There are however people who want to sing their own song. Now, this is different than the people we called “negatives” in the previous paragraphs. Just because they aren’t singing the same song as you, doesn’t mean they can’t sing.

So, how do we deal with those who insist in singing different songs?

The answer is actually the same as the negatives answer. We encourage and inspire. We acknowledge that their vision and passion may be different than ours, we encourage their free thinking and innovation, but this time we look for the comparisons. Can their vision be added to ours, can their alternative views boost our views or compliment them? Work with them, not against them, labelling them as rebellious. This only imparts our lack of confidence in our own abilities and vision and begins to slowly put the fire out of the free thinker. We want to stoke that fire and watch it glow as it contributes light to our mission.

In certain cases where the freethinker's vision is miles away from ours, we help them look for a team that is best suited to stoke their fire and not extinguish it. We don’t want to pass on a potential team member to another leader whose fire is almost out. That doesn’t help anyone get to where they need to be.  Either encourage them to shine brighter with their ideas and passions or give them the confidence to move to a team that they can really add value to.

The "Wrecker"

In some cases, we will come across the stand-alone wrecker. Someone who doesn’t want to be there, who doesn’t contribute and only sees the team as a means to exist in the company because it pays a wage or meets a need. These people can sometimes be the hardest to deal with, because not only do they fall under the negative attitude but they also fall within the free-thinker category. They are like an untrained soldier with a gun.

So, how do we deal with this type of person?

The answer to this one is not a simple as the previous two but can be solved with one word. Why. We need to find out why they are here, why they are negative, why they want to go against the grain and cause disruption, why is the most important element to this equation. When we begin to unravel the "why", the path to progression becomes clear. Sometimes, the path is directed away from your team, but leaving them with no path at all is just as destructive as their behaviour. It comes down to encouraging and inspiring them to pursue the path they choose and help them in every way you can. This is not always easy, but the more you have to tackle this type of behaviour, the more your character builds to be able to deal with it more efficiently.


These are just a few of the challenging behaviours a leader may be faced with correcting. The main elements to take away from this are encourage and inspire. These elements can solve a multitude of issues if directed in the right way. Set yourself goals and targets to inspire and encourage and watch your team perform above expectation.