The Good News Bear Leader

Written by Yiramiilan Services


Good News Bear Leadership.

People who know me well know about my passion for leadership development and in particular the development of emerging leaders.

One thing that I would often say to new leaders is that it’s easy for anyone to be the ‘Good News Bear’.

What do I mean by this? I’m glad you asked.

What I’m referring to is the leader who is the one who is one who likes to make sure that the team is always happy and is very understanding and accepting when people haven’t done what was required of them, and makes sure that team meetings are stocked with cakes or biscuits. They want to be liked by all and love to be the first ones with good news for their team.

Now, of course there is nothing wrong with wanting a good dynamic within the team. The problem comes when there are difficult situations to be managed and the ‘good news bear’ leader is unable to deal with the situations appropriately. From my experience, the good news bears don’t want to tackle the tough issues for fear of harming the working relationship with their team.  

The downside to this is that there is then a tendency to be accepting of poor performance and hope that some miracle will occur and the recalcitrant team member will magically improve and ‘do the right thing’. Sadly, miracles are few and far between. This is where the leader needs to reflect on the situation and determine what action to take.

 When it comes to this, there is no one best way.

Though out of all the possible solutions, what I can tell you is that the ‘do nothing’ approach is probably the worst.

There was a time when I was running a ‘New Leaders’ workshop and recall discussing with a participant a very serious safety breach that he was aware of that was being performed by some of his team members. When asked why, if he knew is was an unsafe act, did he not take action to prevent the team members from doing this his response was “But, the guys won’t be happy with me if I tell them to stop”.  Of course, I found this of great concern and we began to explore why the leader was so uncomfortable in being able to address it with his team members. There were multiple reasons for the issue not being addressed and I’m pleased to say that it didn’t take us long to develop a strategy and build some skill in the team leader to address the situation.

Leaders who are confident in giving feedback that may be seen as negative are a valuable asset to an organisation. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for many organisations to have an abundance of ‘Good News Bears’ and that holds back the performance of entire businesses. This doesn’t mean to say that leaders have to turn into fire-breathing dragons. What is needed are leaders who have the capability of being the “Bad News Bear’ when and if it’s needed. Doing this the right way is a key leadership skill.


Many team leader/manager position descriptions talk, in one way or another, about ‘support, lead and develop their teams’. This isn’t a surprise to people in leadership, however the problem seems to develop when people are appointed to leadership roles, and we make the assumption that they already come with the complete skillset to deal with any performance issues.

It’s an insidious situation where people get appointed to team leadership roles without a clear understanding of any skills gaps that need to be addressed. The leaders get into these roles and try to work things out and try to cajole their team along with positive upbeat motivation and find they are not getting the success they seek. Then they get into a deeper hole and don’t want to ‘s acknowledge, or bring to their managers attention, that they haven’t got the confidence and skill to address poor performance with their team members as part of their job.

When I’ve coached people in the past to develop these skills it is so satisfying to see the confidence they gain and the relief they feel when they can tackle things they have been avoiding and do it is such a way that maintains respect and dignity of those involved.

I find that helping new leaders in this area in particular provides long lasting benefits for them personally and also for the organisations in which they work.


If you would like to know more about how your business can be improved through the team leadership coaching get in touch to discuss your need and how we can assist. 

Remember, being more productive is not about how much sweat you put into a problem, it is about getting the desired outcome in the most effective way possible. When I work with a client, I like to look for the barriers that prevent them from doing the things they are employed to do and to give people tools that can be used immediately.


I like to give people back the time to do their core job.

John Yealland is a management consultant and business improvement expert who has worked with leaders in a wide range of industries to help them improve the performance of their organisation. 

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