Let's face it, nobody thought the Washington Nationals were going to amount to much this season after the departure of outfielder Bryce Harper in free agency. When you lose the face of your franchise, one that is considered one of the best players in the game, it's hard to imagine things going well.
Yet here they are, and there is a simple reason-- the old adage about "culture eats strategy for breakfast" is as true today as it was when it was first said.
Hire the right people, not the right person.
Jim Collins in his book Good to Great popularized the terms, "Right Person, Right Seat." Someone who is in the right seat is an individual who really excels at their role, with the God-given talent, passion and drive who constantly delivers superior performance.
It's hard to question that Harper was in the "Right Seat" in Washington, with six all-star appearances and an MVP award among his many accomplishments. His dominating skills and star power made him one of the richest people in sports when he inked his new contract with the Philadelphia Phillies this past offseason.
So again, how could a team that didn't make the World Series with Harper, lose him and then achieve what they never could before?
It's the importance of having a group of people who are all "Right People" and are deeply aligned with your culture and core values. These individuals live those values every day, and strive to make the whole better than any individual parts.
For all his impact on the field, Harper was simply never "Right People" in the Nationals clubhouse. During his tenure in Washington, there were issues with Harper's hustle, attitude and ego. He was ripped by several teammates even while he was still considering a return to the Nationals during the offseason. The impact of someone like this, no matter the performance in their actual role, impacts everyone around them.
Don't be afraid to say good-bye.
There is a clear lesson for business leaders in all of this. We've all had team members who absolutely rocked at their job, but were clearly not aligned with the company values. It might be the salesperson who exceeds his numbers every month, or the operations manager who constantly delivers her quality and volume quotas, yet everyone goes out of their way to work around this person. It's hard to imagine the impact of losing this person, yet in your heart you know they wreak as much havoc as they create value.
I have one word of advice. Cut the cord. If someone does not fit your culture and core values, they are doing more damage than good no matter how well they are performing. It may seem incredibly hard in the moment, but the impact of making this tough call will enable everyone else to perform their best, and deliver better results in the end.