When to Give a Second Chance and When to Draw the Line

I give second chances reluctantly. I don’t want you on my team if you don’t work hard and bring your best.

Drifters, excuse-makers, and blamers freak me out. They don’t deserve second chances.

My closest friends think I’m too quick to rule people out. They’re right.

I’m thankful for friends who look me in the eye and confront narrow thinking and small-hearted behaviors.

12 reasons to give people a second chance:

  1. You gave confusing instructions.
  2. Lines of responsibility were fuzzy.
  3. There’s a history of delivering results. History predicts the future.
  4. Failure occured around new responsibilities.
  5. Screw ups were owned, not buried.
  6. A next-time plan is offered and endorsed.
  7. You expected someone to perform in their weakness.
  8. Your ambition for them exceeded their competencies.
  9. Effort was high, but results disappointed.
  10. You didn’t offer training, coaching, or support.
  11. There’s improvement and potential.
  12. A different, more suitable role, is available.


The uncomfortable truth is leaders are responsible for people’s failure. You hired the wrong person and put them in the wrong role, for example. Perhaps you didn’t properly assess someone’s strengths.

When people on your team flounder, look in the mirror before casting stones.

Draw the line:

Give no patience to people who don’t care and don’t try.

Drifters deserve a kick in the pants, not a chance to drift again. You get what you tolerate.

A second chance is an endorsement.


Passion, energy, resolve, character, and responsible mistake-making deserve second chances. But if people give up, don’t seem to care, make excuses, or just pretend like everything is OK, draw the line.

Don’t give second chances to excuse-makers unless you want to hear excuses in the future.

When people don’t own their failure, draw the line.

Remember your own struggle, failure, and frailty. Competence is won through hard fought battles. 

When should leaders give second chances?

When should leaders draw the line?