The Law of the Leech

Leechology should be a course in business school.

If you’ve been around leadership very long, you know what it’s like to have someone sucking the life out of you and your team.


one leech can suck the life out of an entire team

The law of the leech: everything’s harder with leeches.

Leeches live to suck the life out of others, even if they don’t intend to.

4 signs you’re a leech:

  1. The first things you think when you hear someone’s name are their weaknesses and failures.
  2. Nothing is good enough. Leeches are tweakers.
  3. “No” and “But” are your default response.
  4. Your ideas are the best ideas.

3 types of leeches:

  1. Angry leech: punish everyone for past offenses.
  2. Insecure leech: can’t stand to see others succeed.
  3. Smiling leech: seem pleasant but leave you gasping for air.

6 ways to deal with leeches:

#1. Assume one leech can suck the life out of an entire team.

#2. Assume it’s your job to deal with leeches. If you have authority, you are responsible for the energy of your team. CEO should stand for Chief Energy Officer.

#3. Monitor energy. Walk around listening for the sucking noises.

#4. Protect high performers. Never sprinkle leeches around. You can’t stop soul suckers.

Reform, remove, or isolate leeches.

Bad is stronger than good. If you can’t reform or remove them, put leeches in their own black hole.

Tip: put all the leeches on one team.

#5. Don’t minimize hard challenges and difficult problems in an attempt to be positive. You look like an idiot when you pretend difficult challenges are easy.

Face difficult challenges with optimism, not blindness.

You dishonor hard work and grit when you minimize challenges.

#6. Monitor the impact of your presence.

What is the energy level when you arrive? What is the energy level when you walk out the door?

Be a leader who gives energy rather than drains it.

What types of leeches have you encountered?

What suggestions do you have for dealing with leeches?