One of the most important lessons I learned during my leadership years was how to hire and fire people. My mentor promised me that those two things would shape my success or failure as a leader...and they did. Because at first, I hired too quickly and fired too slowly.
Whenever I had an opening, I tried to keep our corporate momentum going by filling the position immediately. Big mistake. But an even bigger mistake was hoping that bad performers or bad attitudes would get better simply by the power of my management skills.
I quickly realized that great leaders are prepared for turnover. I started recruiting and training replacements on a regular basis--and even then, I took my time and hired only when I knew I had the right person for the job. And if an employee was becoming a liability, it was important to get them "off the bus" as soon as possible, as Jim Collins advises in his masterpiece, Good To Great.
Building an effective team is your most important responsibility and the most expensive decision you make as a leader. Remember, hire slowly, fire quickly.