“You work with good people, you win.”

I had breakfast with Robert and Jonathan Kraft today, and at the risk of seeming a name-dropper or a sniveling kiss @ss, spending time with them is like a lesson in the values that contribute so much to the success or failure of a business. Among Robert’s most often sited maxims, reinforced at every opportunity, is the importance of working with “good people.”

What does he mean by this? Of course “good people” means competent people, people who are good at what they do. But he means more than that. He means people of high moral character. He means people who are decent, sensitive, smart, ethical, and loyal. “Mensches” who not only do their jobs well, but who make doing yours that much more enjoyable.

It can be a trivial thing to say this. It’s almost a truism – you hear it all the time from parents, teachers, coaches, and CEOs… I mean who’s out there looking for the really bad people?

It is a decCharacter 2×2idedly non-trivial, and altogether more rare thing, to stick to this value when put to the Tyrant test.

Tyrants are people with high job performance and low character, the upper left folks in the matrix. We’ve all seen them – the high-performing sales guy who abuses the delivery team; the departmental superstar despised by his peers and subordinates; the external media darling who puts style over substance. There are more than a few archetypes in this quadrant, sad to say. All of them can seem invaluable to a business in the near term, which leads managers to overlook their “personal issues.” Tyrants interpret this as reinforcement of their own power, which engenders further bad behavior, and the cycle continues. Value is destroyed in the enterprise – friction is created, and good people leave.

Only leaders with the conviction to dump the Tyrant without hesitation hold “good people” as a value rather than a slogan. This is the Patriot Way, and it will be ours as well.

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4 Responses to “You work with good people, you win.”

  1. Outstanding post. One day we must talk. I just came here to see if you had something new to read after posting my own new entry and was surprised by how similar our topics were. I must admit a little envy though, I’m not having breakfast with Robert Kraft… Very nice.

  2. Tod says:

    We all face interesting decisions when it comes to joining/leaving a company, both as employees and employers. The decision to hire or keep a Tyrant can be a difficult one, particularly when that particular Tyrant is a huge producer. However, the decision can be made easier if the framework around work is changed to incorporate more than just production, to include ‘softer’ metrics like satisfaction, growth, societal contribution, relationships, etc. In this frame, where focus is put not just on the bottom line but on greater things, the Tyrant often has no clothes (to butcher a metaphor.) Of course, companies are in business to make money, that’s what they do, but there are so many choices to be made along that objective that can maintain the bottom line and improve the lives of those served and those serving.

    To my eye (and here i apply mike’s initial caveat about being a kiss @ss) matchmine, under Mike’s, Robert’s and Jonathan’s guidance, is well on its way to incorporating that greater sense.

  3. David Cutler says:

    My favorite bumper sticker is “Mean People Suck”

  4. Ash says:

    I work for a startup and my boss attitude is sale, sale and sale. But he fails to understand that the client may not be as interested in buying and need time to understand the product and work on it. If the client doesnt harp the sound he wants, the answer is they dont get it.
    Right now he is flying high as board considers him straight shooter. After reading your column, i think i would rather call him a tyrant.

    anyways good write up and a very interesting post.

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