The ‘TOUGH’ Leader

Suresh was a highly energetic and a fun-loving person and also always polite and respectful to one and all. As part of the production team he was responsible for generating
10 Dec 2016 11:00
The ‘TOUGH’ Leader

Suresh was a highly energetic and a fun-loving person and also always polite and respectful to one and all.

As part of the production team he was responsible for generating the targeted output and that too with least errors and wastage.

In the team, along with him were four other people and each one of them had his own specific target of producing a specific amount of output with the highest quality.

After the first month, when the review was being conducted it was seen that the performance of Suresh was very low and far below the expectations.

His and also the entire team’s leader Mr Mathew was visibly upset.

“I am quite surprised at this performance.

“You are one of the most energetic and enthusiastic members of the team and yet I wonder as to why were you not able to channel this energy in the right direction towards enhancing your performance.

“This is the third time in a row that you have completely under-performed.

“After the last time’s below par performance I personally had provided you with specific and beneficial inputs.

“I had also sent you for two trainings related to your work and attitude development and yet with all this guidance and help you have shown no change.

“I need to do something about this.

“Suresh! If this happens again then I will have to take some tough decisions.

“I want to see a positive change in you and your performance and I am very sure you will show me that change.”

Suresh, who was listening to all this stood up and confidently assured Mr Mathew that he would bring that positive and necessary change in every aspect of his work.

The meeting was over and everyone returned to their respective responsibilities.

Time kept flowing and eventually another month had passed by and the day arose for the next review.

Mr Mathew walked in a bit late and saw all the others already seated. Suresh was there too.

Mr Mathew looked extremely upset and almost out of control. He looked towards Suresh and asked him to stand up.

“I have had it enough Mr Suresh. What is wrong with you?

“This morning, I was looking at each person’s output and I was shocked to see that you have not improved at all.

“Your performance has in fact worsened.

“I also have been told that there has been indiscipline in terms of your punctuality which also therefore reflects upon your lethargic attitude.

“In the last meeting, I had expressed my confidence in you and I really thought that you would make some efforts and show better performance.

“But I am unpleasantly astonished to see that you completely ignored your own commitment which you had given me in the last meeting.

“I had told you that if there is no improvement in you as a performer then I will have to make some tough decisions.”

Saying this, Mr Mathew slowly reclined to his chair and instructed Suresh, in a rather firm tone to be seated.

The atmosphere seemed highly tense and Mr Mathew looked visibly very dejected and also angry!

There was, for a few moments, complete silence and everyone in the room sat there upon their chairs anticipating what Mr Mathew would do.

Suresh himself was extremely tense and nervous.

After a long pause Mr Mathew stood up and again addressed Suresh, but this time, in a soft tone.

“Dear Suresh, you have for the fourth time failed me and failed the entire department.

“I have tried to help you, guide you and have had to even listen to my seniors questioning my decision to keep you in this department and yet you have betrayed my confidence in you.”

Suresh heard these words and his head fell.

“I sincerely apologise Sir.

“I will give you my final commitment right here which is, that I will surely change and make you proud of me.”

Many of Suresh’s colleagues had hidden smiles over their faces as they could feel the absence of sincerity in his tone.

They knew that Mr Mathew will make the tough decision and saw him rising once again from his chair.

“Suresh, I will give one last chance, and this time you must really show me the performance. Will you do that?” He asked Suresh.

“Yes Sir,” he enthusiastically replied.

Everyone was quite shocked.

They expected their boss to make a tough decision but he did not and ended up giving their colleague another life-line.

The meeting was over and just like the last time everyone returned to their work.

As days passed by murmurs began to emerge about the toughness of Mr Mathew or rather the lack of it.

What was most shocking was Suresh himself telling a colleague from another department that his boss could be convinced easily and that there was no real pressure on him to perform.

Seven months have passed by since that review meeting.

Suresh is not only still in the production department but is unfortunately still under-performing and this now has also affected the overall performance of the Department.


The decision

Finally it happened! The decision was taken.

He was asked to resign…Mr Mathew was politely asked to resign by his superiors and they had some very good reasons for it!!!

The non-performance of Suresh and that too for such a long period of time was affecting not just the production but also the attitudes and the morale of the others in the team.

Suresh himself was getting all the more casual and disinterested in his work as he knew that his boss was not tough enough to make the tough decisions.

Mr Willi, the new team leader was different.

After taking over from Mr Mathew he had a one on one interaction with all of his team members which also included Suresh.

Without waiting for the review meeting Willi made his decision. “Based upon my individual interactions, I have decided to give each one of you exactly ten days to show specific changes and these ‘expected changes’ have been communicated to all.

If these changes are not made within the specified time, then tough decisions will have to be made.

Hearing this, Suresh was smiling again almost in an irritating manner as though he knew that nothing really would happen.

Well! Not ten but fifteen days have passed by and Suresh is not with this organisation anymore!!!

He was asked to tender his resignation.


Tough decisions

Dear friends, Tough leaders are those who do not only talk tough but execute the tough decisions in the positive interest of the organization as a whole.

The truly tough leader must be fearless and courageous in all his decisions.

Mathew gave too many chances and was unwilling to make the decision to relieve Suresh of his duties.

Was there justification in letting Suresh go?

I believe there was.

Did Suresh get ample chances to improve and bring a positive change? Absolutely yes.

Did his boss try to help and guide him?

Yes, is the answer and yet why was Mr Mathew unable to make that decision?

As they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”!
Mayur Kalbag is a Leadership Coach, Corporate Trainer & Author. He can be contacted via email:



Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus