It’s a great feeling when someone says they believe in what you’re doing and want to figure out a way to support you. It confirms that you are doing something right – and if someone wants to help with the workload (for the rights reasons), it’s good to have that kind of framework around you.

But what are the right reasons?

Before you invite these people to the table, take a very close look at their movements. The first method to decipher ‘leech or lieutenant,’ do they have their own thing going on? A leech is a parasite attempting to latch on to what someone else is doing. They eat what you eat. A worthy lieutenant however, may respect your command but is bringing their own food to the table and sharing with the team. They aren’t in it to gain solely from your success. They have their own plan, their own goals and make moves for the sake of the bigger picture. Find out what goals they have. Pay attention to their appetites.

There’s also a difference between McDonald’s and good quality cuisine. It’s not just a matter of ‘that’s not good food’ – it’s the pace at which these leeches are eating. Fast food is less work for short term gain. However, working hard for longer to put good food on the table is a sign of tenacity and longevity. These are the people you need riding with you. And, if someone’s eating at multiple tables, remember their loyalty will be divided.

What’s the harm?

You may ask, “why not have some people around you that are willing to do the work that some others aren’t?” Well eventually, someone riding on your coat tails will drag down the momentum. A worthy member of any formation will carry the weight forward with you. Back end weight will be become exhausting and unproductive.

Desperation stinks.

This stench will eventually permeate and affect the team. Be cautious if someone is trying to work on something that isn’t in their wheelhouse. Is this someone just trying to expand on their skill set, or have they not done enough of their own self-reflection to know what their identity is? These motives can be disguised. People are very good at becoming chameleons, but once you get a whiff of desperation, without the motivation to put in the work to actually get there – get the Febreeze.

There are leeches but also vultures. Vultures may come from a different direction and seem more attractive than the leech. They are still on the lookout for a carcass. Be smart with your decisions. Trade in taking on a whole army for the quantity and work with a small group for the quality. You will eat better and sleep better – knowing you are not feeding someone else’s agenda.