If there is one single rule to stick to as a team leader, it is the one that tells you should NEVER talk about other team members, if they are not in the room. Such a behaviour kills trust, which is the very foundations of a team. Each and every member of a team is in need of a secure environment and it is the task of the leader to protect the team from this kind of destructive behavior.
All too often, though, the team leader is the first person who starts to talk with team members about another one – in his absence. “What do you think of Bill ?” or “Don’t you think that Jane has …” It even goes further when the leader asks questions like : “What if I changed John or Sarah’s role ?” etc. By putting these kind of conversation on the table, the leader is giving a very bad signal : at anytime, anybody in the team can be “discussed” about in a conversation with the leader with him not being present.
This is a very difficult discipline, because we – as humans – are so prone to talk about everybody, even if they’re not in the room. But the best teams are masters in this self-discipline of refusing to talk about others when they’re not there. Too radical ? Well, maybe only radical teams can achieve superior performance. So, it’s your choice as a leader : What kind of results you want to create? Are you ready to pay the price for it? Are you ready to be an example and to protect your team from these type of killing conversations.