Most managers and business owners do what’s easiest, most beneficial, and least painful for them, not what’s best for the company. They kowtow to troublemakers and let dysfunctional situations fester instead of getting tough and dealing with them head-on as they should.

That just incentivizes bad behavior. Like coddling whiny children or negotiating with terrorists, it perpetuates the problem. It rewards employees who create drama and disrupt the organization while penalizing those who do the best work.

Those with new ideas that challenge the status quo, call out sacred cows, and propose improvements are inevitably shot down because they rankle the squeaky wheels and bureaucrats who revel in a corrupt system.

Mounting friction eventually slows the wheels of progress. Performance and effectiveness slowly erodes. Innovation and quality deteriorates. Unable to scale, growth flatlines. That’s what happened to the likes of Radio Shack, Kodak, Sun, Yahoo, BlackBerry, HP, and Twitter.

Real leaders do the right thing. They take action. They confront trouble immediately and deal with it head-on. They do what’s best for the company, not what’s easiest or best for themselves. And they teach their people to do the same, creating a self-perpetuating, high-performance culture.

Image credit Alice Carrier via Flickr