Dear Dan: Everyone Wants to Leave!

Dear Dan,

I just inherited a team where they were publicly scrutinized and now everyone wants to leave.

How do I get people to stay when the previous leadership “threw them under the bus”?

Leading Bruised People (LBP)

Dear LBP,

Meaningful leadership often buckles the knees. This challenge is your opportunity to shine. Tighten your belt. Show up with:

  1. Humility.
  2. Confidence.
  3. Forward-facing curiosity.
  4. Resolve to build a vibrant environment.

#1. Confirm the problem.

Offended people may over-state offenses.

Speak to each team member privately. Tell them what you’ve heard. Ask them to describe the team dynamics – good or bad. Ask them to describe the behaviors that caused the dynamics.

#2. Ask them to describe the team dynamics they would like to see.

Focus on behaviors, not people.

#3. Don’t ask them to stay.

Explain that you’d like them to stay but you understand their reluctance. Tell them you will help them move on if that’s their choice.

Call them to step up. “I wonder if you might be one of the people who helps us move forward?”

#4. Practice humility.

Ask them to give you a chance to create a team environment where people thrive.

Ask for their help. Be a learn-it-all, not a know-it-all. You don’t have THE answer.

Express confidence that things will improve if you work together. Use words like, “I believe…,” And, “We.”

#5. Rebuild trust:

Publicly acknowledge public offenses.

The extent of offenses determines the extent of corrective measures. If an offense happens behind closed doors then correction, restitution, and/or reconciliation needs to happen behind closed doors.

Apologize, even if you didn’t do anything wrong.

You’re the leader now. Don’t apologize for someone else’s offense. Apologize that your team was treated poorly. “I’m sorry you have been embarrassed publicly.”

Openly discuss, describe, and commit to shared behaviors that move the team forward.

You have my best,


What suggestions do have for LBP?


*I didn’t include the “Dear Dan” part of this post in my 300 word limit.

Added resources: