You know the person. You are thinking of them right now.
Negative Nancy. Gloomy Glen. Pessimistic Patty. Bleak Bill.
Every team has them. If you don’t know who that person is on your team, you’re it.
These are the people who have the ability to walk into any room and suck the air right out of it. No matter what suggestion is brought forward, it is never good enough. These people can see the worst in any person or situation.
Yet, you need them.
You need negative people on your team and in your organization and here’s why:
- Negative people are not easily enamored with flashy people or ideas.
- Negative people have no problem communicating the blind spots of everyone else and of the team or organization.
- Negative people will help team members see a problem or solution from a different perspective.
- Negative people can more easily see bullshit and call people out on it.
- Negative people help new people on the team earn their way through teamwork, knowledge and capacity rather than charm.
- Negative people place expertise over politics.
- Negative people probably care more about the team, organization or idea than the other members of your team.
Negative people are good and necessary for every team.
Notice, I did not say, “toxic people.” Toxic team members must be thrown off the ship as quickly as possible. Toxic team members are those people who want authority and respect yet lack courage. Toxic people move behind the scenes and in the shadows through gossip and causing unhealthy divisions on the team. Toxic team members are dangerous for any team or organization.
Healthy negative people truly want what is best for the organization and it’s team members. They simply see the sides of people and ideas that others refuse or choose not to see.
If you find yourself getting rid of negative people because you don’t like what they have to say, that says more about your leadership than it does about their negativity. Truly great leaders seek out and empower people with opposing points of view. Truly great leaders recognize the importance of seeing all sides to people and arguments, not just the sides they want to see.
Keep the negative people on your team.
And listen to them.
You will be a better leader (and person) for it.