Complete Guide On How To Become A Better Manager For Business.

Ultimate Guide On How To Become A Better Leader And Manager
Everything you WANT to know and NEED to know how to become a better leader and manager for business.


How To Become A Better Leader And Manager Content Overview (Quick Links)


The good news: You’ve been promoted to management.

The bad news: Not everyone wishes you well.

What’s more, your company may not provide the training or the tools that you need as a first-time manager.

6 Management concepts you must master to become effective.

  1. Managing a team significantly differs from being the team superstar.
  2. As the team captain or manager you should keep your eyes on the entire field.
  3. Don’t get lost in minor league details.
  4. Successful managers learn to delegate.
  5. Leaders motivate.
  6. Dictators often fail.

The welcome mat may be a bit dirty to begin with. 5 Lessons you need to know for a smooth transition into effective management.

  • With the new title, you may also encounter jealousy, hidden agendas, pointless flattery and resistance.
  • Fortunately, most staff members regard new managers with a “wait-and-see” attitude, which is a healthy, balanced approach to change.
  • Patience and restraint will serve you well as you proceed.
  • From the beginning, don’t bark out commands from your new dugout, be aware of not talking more than you listen, try not to become falsely friendly with new reports and never turn into a know-it-all.
  • Do seek out each staff member for a one-on-one conversation, maintain an atmosphere of fairness, and express sincere interest in the goals and concerns of your new staff members.

How to cultivate confidence and trust with your team.

  • Face it: You’re not going to win trust, confidence and loyalty overnight. It’s a deliberate process.
  • Think about baseball. Let your players score the runs; your role is to create a strategy that will get your team on base and on the scoreboard.
  • Don’t belittle your employees or impose inhumanely high standards.
  • Perfectionism is a trap that will catch even your best staffers in an atmosphere of resentment and defeat.
  • Set reasonable targets that will develop team spirit and motivate improvement.

How to demonstrate appreciation and create a loyal team.

  • Constructive feedback is an important tool for fostering a positive, productive workplace.
  • Take these steps to make sure that the praise you offer acts as pragmatic feedback:
    • Give specific details – Use concrete facts to praise or change staff behavior.
    • Connect the dots – Demonstrate how smaller details operate within the context of the overall departmental or corporate game plan.
    • Don’t go overboard – Stick to the facts. Avoid extreme dramatizations.
    • Don’t hoard secrets – Chop down the office grapevine by creating an open, secret-free environment.
  • Active listening is also a powerful management tool. As an engaged listener, ask questions, summarize the speaker’s main points, and provide appropriate verbal and non-verbal feedback.
  • Active listeners avoid unnecessary interruptions, self-centered asides and “know-it-all” comments.
  • Smart managers do not get enchanted with their own rhetoric.

Tasks and pitfalls of managers.

  • Managers wear many hats. In different scenarios you will serve as a teacher, motivator, coach, standard-bearer and enforcer.
  • Your different roles fall into six basic tasks:
    1. Staff recruitment.
    2. Communication about department and corporate goals.
    3. Resource management and planning.
    4. Project development.
    5. Staff training.
    6. Personnel assessment.
  • Novice managers often become overly engaged in their old tasks or place greater emphasis on their previous functions within their departments.
  • Although it is difficult, let go of your former roles.
  • Don’t let your old job become your new hobby. Look ahead.
  • Don’t micromanage. Focus on the complete picture.
  • A balanced perspective will help you climb each rung of the corporate ladder.

Hiring 101

  • The hiring process involves a menu of tests, ranging from aptitude exams to drug tests.
  • But very few screens measure or report employee attitude – the most important element in the office.
  • “The best performer doesn’t always make the best manager.”
  • Detecting a job candidate’s attitude is a difficult challenge that demands acute listening and interviewing skills. Three questions will help you assess an applicant’s attitude:
    1. What were your favorite tasks at your previous job?
    2. Describe your last manager. How did you relate to him or her?
    3. What was your least favorite chore at your last post?
  • If several candidates are competing closely for a single position, let the needs of your company be a decisive factor.
  • Choose quickly and inform everyone of your choice.
  • Brief your new hire on salary, work hours and any trial period.
  • Make sure that everyone is on the same page about the job’s requirements, benefits and compensation.

Training 101

  • As a novice manager, you may feel insecure about your ability to perform every position in your department. Avoid that trap.
  • You are responsible for the total results of your department, but you are not expected to carry out every job. Don’t try to do it all.
  • Your job is to make sure that everyone else is well-trained for his or her job.
  • Ask seasoned employees to demonstrate specific chores to new employees.
  • Choose trainers with excellent attitudes.
  • Don’t let a new hire be infected with the bug of discontentment.
  • The training period also provides a good opportunity for reviewing corporate standards and department goals.
  • “People don’t act upon the facts; they act upon their perception of the facts.”
  • Write a complete job profile for each position. Heed input from employees and senior managers.
  • A good job description has three elements:
    1. a list of the job’s requirements, including technical ability and education
    2. an explanation of the required attitude and behavior
    3. an overview of the necessary people skills

Difficult Employees

As a manager, you may also have to deal with a wide range of problem employees. The list of personnel pitfalls includes employees who are combative, ditzy or attention grabbing. You might have to cope with a class clown or an obsessive workaholic. Don’t jump to conclusions, though. Circumstances can intervene to disrupt the performance of otherwise excellent employees, who can be thrown off track by sudden illnesses, personal problems or financial upheaval.

“Don’t give up on people too soon; you may find you have the ability to reach them.”

Don’t try to solve every problem that crosses your employees’ desks. Inappropriate or faulty assistance, no matter how well intentioned, can even create legal liability for you and your company. “Employee Assistance Programs” (EAPs), generally administered by the Human Resources department, offer employees various ways to deal with a wide range of personal, physical, psychological and financial problems. EAPs are also an option for staffers with substance abuse problems.

Discipline 101

Avoid office surprises. Keep your employees updated on corporate standards and provide constant feedback about performance. To handle lackluster performance or wayward behavior:

  • Provide early clear warnings about problem areas.
  • Avoid personal or combative comments.
  • Maintain two-way communication. Don’t lecture. Listen and then speak up.
  • Document warnings and reviews with memos.
  • Consider reducing merit pay – or even firing the employee – if repeat warnings yield little improvement.

Sparking Spirit

Generating team spirit is a crucial skill. Your managerial success will depend on your ability to lead others toward a shared vision. To accomplish this task, provide:

  • Precise goals for each unit and individual.
  • Specific, reliable instructions.
  • Constant feedback.
  • Positive cooperation.
  • A good example.

“You have to keep an honest perspective on who you are.”

If you encounter difficulties, tap into the resources that are available to you through the HR office. Seek out employer-sponsored training to help you establish the right environment in your department. After all, you’re in charge now.


  • The First-Time Manager.  Loren B. Belker.  AMACOM, 2005.  First Edition:1987. Pages: 223.


Mastering Managing, Delegating, & Office Politics.

4 Steps To Managing People.

  1. Clarify your responsibilities – Have a conversation right away to identify your expectations and boundaries. Listen to the other person’s needs or concerns.
  2. Expect to be noticed – People will scrutinize you. Your staff will notice who gets your attention. Flip your relationships by focusing on interactions with each subordinate.
  3. “Be fair” – Adjust compensation and assign promotions without bias or favoritism. Not everything needs to be equal, but your decisions need to be fair. Base your allocations of resources and energy on each person’s performance.
  4. Prepare for changes in your relationships – Recognize that this is a possibility, even with your best friend. Adjust and move on, but don’t burn any bridges.

“Providing positive and negative feedback to your direct reports…is the only way they will know how they are performing.”

5 Ways How To Become A Great Delegator.

  1. Build their reputation – Brag about your direct reports. Let others, including managers higher up the ladder, know about your staff members’ accomplishments.
  2. Provide opportunities – Find ways for them to add new skills or develop their existing skills. Offer instruction, but don’t do the work yourself.
  3. Don’t share too much – Don’t let your staff get bogged down in details that sap their time or put them at risk.
  4. Provide challenging tasks – Inspire your staff members to rise to the occasion.
  5. Give regular feedback – Don’t wait for an annual review. Providing useful feedback – positive or negative – is the best way to tell your employees how well they’re doing.

When the people you oversee are successful, you’ll earn recognition “as a driver of results and developer of talent.” “Stick with your flipped script” as you advance. Your work isn’t just yours anymore.

“Your ability to do all the work, no matter how good you are at it, will not compensate for the inability to lead others doing the work.”

4 Steps To Becoming “Politically Savvy.”

  1. Pay attention to the situation – Build your “social astuteness.” Understand the behaviors and needs of those with whom you interact, and recognize the nuances of the environment around you.
  2. Evaluate, then act – Behave appropriately to the situation. Exercising calmness and “impulse control” guarantees your behavior will meet the needs of everyone involved.
  3. Plan the way you network – A “strategic network” shares varied perspectives and knowledge. Building a diverse network means bringing in individuals from different divisions “across the formal hierarchy” and from different locations or functional units. Adding depth to your network means knowing meaningful details about each person – not only his or her name and title.
  4. “Leave people with a good impression” – When you are authentic, you can be politically savvy without being manipulative.

“It’s not your technical skills that make you a success, but your personal skills.”



How to become the boss. New rules for the next generation of effective managers.

How millennials can become effective managers.

  • Millennials, born between 1982 and 2000, are the youngest, most populous generation in the US workforce, with about 80 million people.
  • Millennials must take charge of their own careers and manage their “personal brand,” particularly as they enter leadership positions.

Skills millennial managers must develop to become an effective manager.

  • Give yourself time to adjust to the difficult transition from employee to manager.
  • Being a good leader requires learning how to listen and communicate.
  • Time management is a critical skill for new managers. Learn to prioritize and delegate.
  • Always engage in networking. Join groups, organizations and sports leagues. Go to events, even if they’re not business related.
  • Be aware of the four different generations, each with distinctive attributes, make up today’s workforce.
  • Be sensitive to differing generational work styles, which can lead to misunderstandings or cause clashes.
  • Older colleagues may criticize millennials for a sense of entitlement and a need for constant feedback.

How to manage your “personal brand” to become an effective manager.

  • Managing your brand includes monitoring your online presence.


  • Becoming the Boss. New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders. Lindsey Pollak.  HarperBusiness, 2014.  Pages: 303.


How To Use Positivity To Create Extraordinary Influence At Work.

Those in command often berate disengaged employees and threaten them.

Executives should try to help their staff members become better employees and better people.

The root of the word “affirmation” comes from the Latin affirmationem, which means “to make steady, to confirm and to strengthen.”

Affirmation reinforces someone’s sense of self.

For affirmation to work, you must address a person’s competence, style and inner core.

In the past, wise people thought of the heart and mind as the home of someone’s core.

Your core acts, feels and expresses itself in a process that scientists call “self-talk.”

The core acquires knowledge, makes assessments and acts as a reference for your beliefs.

When you speak in words that address someone’s core, you are speaking “Words of Life” rather than “Words of Death.”

Most people evaluate others based on what they do, but they evaluate themselves based on what they intended to do.

Newer findings in science teach that leaders who want to inspire people to act must look beyond the tasks they want done.

If they want to foster people’s best performance, they must reach each person on an “emotional and relational dimension.”

Speaking words of encouragement and praise has a lasting impact on people, although “the corporate world has not well integrated the benefits of affirmation,” which can be transformational. Affirmation can:

  • Protect recipients against stress and improve their ability to think and resolve difficult challenges.
  • Activate the brain’s ventromedial prefrontal cortex, which governs “positive behavior change.”
  • Make employees feel better about themselves, and even shape their core beliefs about themselves.
  • Strengthen their ability to control their impulses.
  • Help them be cheerful and efficient.
  • Encourages the recipient’s brain to release hormones like oxytocin and vasopressin, which “play a role in trust and involvement.”
  • Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system – which boosts immunity, keeps the heart healthy and brings equilibrium to the hormonal system.
  • Encourages innovation and helps people become more receptive to new ideas.

For affirmation to work, your words must be sincere and must transcend beyond the level of a simple compliment.

To bring out other people’s talents, affirm them in three psychological dimensions daily, basing your works on their individual attributes:

  • “Customary style” – Your outward style manifests in how you relate to others and act toward them. It manifests in patterns that affect how others evaluate you and how open they may be to your ideas. Different styles in how you relate to others might include being a “doer,” an “advocate,” an “idealist” or a “challenger.”  Each has plusses and minuses. A challenger might have clear goals, but could also intimidate others.
  • “Competence” – Employees’ technical know-how, skill and abilities govern how well they can do things. Employees display competence in how they carry out their day-to-day activities. When you affirm style or competence, you are practicing “tactical influence.”
  • “Core” – This is the inner self that thinks, develops viewpoints and makes decisions. It’s the “entity within each person that acts, feels and expresses itself through…self-talk.” The core is a person’s hidden being, his or her character.

How Belief Systems Work

To affirm and motivate other people, you need to be aware of some of the building blocks people use to shape their belief systems:

  • Beliefs “reside” in the core and govern how people act.
  • People have a great capacity for rationalization, which may lead them to accept falsehoods that make them to act in damaging ways.
  • Great wealth and power can make leaders arrogant. They can come to feel entitled, to have too much confidence in their own intelligence, and to think that the standards others must accept don’t apply to them.
  • When people act on false beliefs, they incur personal damage.
  • People formulate true beliefs in much the same way as they create false beliefs. For example, people who believe in integrity behave accordingly, while people who rationalize bad behavior come to believe “rational lies.”
  • To formulate positive beliefs, affirm yourself and accept affirmation from others.

“Words of Life”

When you speak positively and use words that address people’s core, you speak the Words of Life, which are a gift.

To use the Words of Life effectively, you need to have a healthy core.

To build your core, talk truthfully and authentically.

  • “Integrity” – Commend a colleague for deciding not to sell the company’s products to a country with a poor human rights record.
  • “Courage” – Recognize an executive for courage.
  • “Humility” ­– Praise a colleague for being humble, for instance, for giving a speech that highlighted the achievements of other members of the team.
  • “Judgment” – Commend a colleague for using good judgment, for instance, in a dispute about earnings with a major customer.
  • “Authenticity” – Highlight a co-worker’s ability to earn respect from the team because of his or her honesty.
  • “Self-regulation” – Praise a colleague for restraint in dealing with a difficult situation.
  • “Wisdom – Extol a colleague for handling a hard confrontation wisely. For instance, you could say that you don’t think anyone else could have resolved it better.
  • “Candor” – Commend a colleague for being forthright.
  • “Resilience” – Acknowledge a colleague for the stamina it took to deal with and resolve a persistent problem over an extended period of time.
  • “Influence” – Congratulate a colleague who successfully motivates others.

“Words of Death”

An ancient saying suggests that words can bring strength or diminishment, life or death. Constructive criticism rarely works because in the recipient’s mind, the negative message outweighs the intent to be helpful. Criticism’s potential harmful effects include:

  • It affects a person’s amygdala – the part of the brain that governs the body’s fight-or-flight response – which reacts to any threat, including negative comments.
  • Some parts of the brain shut down.
  • Criticism limits reflection and stress management.
  • The recipient absorbs the adverse emotions of the criticizer.
  • Criticism cripples employee productivity and satisfaction.
  • Employees resist unwarranted feedback even when it might make sense.
  • Corporate cultures characterized by harsh criticism inhibit creativity and innovation.
  • People who experience harsh criticism believe it applies to their essence rather than to their deeds.
  • Criticism can make people feel as if something is wrong with them.

Senior managers face a significant challenge in getting people back on track without using harsh criticism. One alternative is alliance feedback.

With alliance feedback, you show people in a kindly, encouraging way how their outcome fell short of their intentions.

Executives can use alliance feedback in two situations:

  1. to help employees achieve their aspirations, and
  2. to advance a shared mission or goal.

To bring out the best in another person, form an alliance with him or her. Keep these pointers in mind:

  • The amygdala is profoundly sensitive to negativity. Watch for behavior others could perceive as antagonistic.
  • Effective alliance feedback takes effort and emotional investment. Show the other person that you consider him or her important.
  • Ascribe good intentions to the recipient of alliance feedback. Most people evaluate others by what they do and evaluate themselves based on what they intended to do.
  • When you use aspirational alliance feedback, make employees aware of how their behavior might be hampering their ability to achieve their goals.
  • Make alliance feedback challenging and motivational.
  • Maintain a professional tone.
  • Focus on challenging issues, not the personality of the recipient.


  • Extraordinary Influence. How Great Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others.  Tim Irwin.  Wiley, 2018.  Pages: 208.


What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently.

  • A great manager matters more to talented employees than pay, benefits or status.
  • Create four levels of management support: Base Camp and Camps 1, 2 and 3.
  • Base Camp management offers support, clarifies expectations and provides resources to employees.
  • Camp 1 deals with encouragement and job satisfaction.
  • Camp 2 deals with how well employees fit the organization.
  • Camp 3 deals with employees’ progress and personal growth.
  • You can support Camp 1 only if you sufficiently cover Base Camp; and so on up the camp chain.
  • Great managers play favorites because they recognize that different employees have different skills and talents.
  • You can’t teach talent or attitude, so hire for talent and train for skills.
  • Great managers set expectations not by defining the right steps to take, but by defining the right results.


  • First, Break All the Rules. What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently.  Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman.  Simon & Schuster, 1999.  First Edition:1998.  Pages: 255.


How to Be the Boss Without Being the B-Word (Bossy).

  • “Bossy” behaviors include micromanaging, ignoring the suggestions of others, power hunger and aggression.
  • “Bossiness” correlates with negative career outcomes.
  • People often aren’t aware of how others perceive them; a bossy co-worker might not know he or she is bossy.
  • Clear communication, helpful feedback and empathy can combat bossiness in the workplace.
  • The “SBI feedback” method – assessing “situation, behavior” and “impact” – can help when dealing with a bossy co-worker.

When 201 American business leaders responded to a survey about “bossiness” in the workplace, they revealed that “bossy” people were less popular with superiors, less likely to receive promotions and overall less successful in their careers.

“Are You Bossy?”

Try the following exercise to compare your intentions with how others perceive you:

1) Write a description of yourself in the workplace,

2) be as detailed as possible,

3) ask your co-workers to write a description of you and

4) compare the lists.

“Items that are only on your list suggest intentions that are not clear to others. Items that are only on others’ lists suggest ways that you are unintentionally impacting others.”

If people perceive you as bossy, try listening to others’ ideas. Acknowledge the contributions of your co-workers. Encourage people to come up with their own solutions to problems. Give praise when it’s deserved, and offer constructive, specific feedback when improvement is necessary.


  • Report – How to Be the Boss Without Being the B-Word (Bossy).  Cathleen Clerkin, Christine A. Crumbacher, Julia Fernando and William A. Gentry. CCL, 2015.


5 Principles Of Managing From The Heart – Boost Your Leadership, Productivity, & Profits.

  1. “Please don’t make me wrong,” says to communicate your feelings without assigning blame.
  2. “Hear and understand me,” calls for practicing active listening.
  3. “Tell me the truth with compassion,” requires speaking honestly and respectfully, recognizing someone else’s value, and using “constructive confrontation.”
  4. “Remember to look for my loving intentions,” says to be aware of people’s good intentions even when you disagree with their ideas or actions.
  5. “Acknowledge the greatness within me,” says that everyone can excel. People will respond to you positively when you recognize their potential.


  • Managing from the Heart.  Hyler Bracey, Jack Rosenblum, Aubrey Sanford and Roy Trueblood.  Dell, 1993.   First Edition:1990.   Copyright © 1990 by Heart Enterprises. Published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.   Pages: 191.


How To Become A SuperBoss: 5 Traits & 5 Management Styles You Need To Learn.

5 Traits of Superbosses

Though the three types of superbosses differ in their styles, Finkelstein says they have five traits in common:

  • “extreme confidence,
  • competitiveness,
  • [an] imaginative nature,
  • integrity” and
  • “authenticity.”

They are generally optimistic, restless and courageous, impelled by an appetite for competition and risk. At work and outside work, superbosses are zealous about bringing their visions to life. They never waver from their values. People describe them as high-intensity, unforgettable, and “unique, one of a kind, even mysterious.”

5 Management Styles of Superbosses

1.  High-Level Talent Managers

  • Superbosses accomplish their goals by working through other people.
  • Meeting their objectives requires exceptional talents.
  • Legendary football coach Bill Walsh, for example, designed his plays around his players’ talents, creating a new brand of football and dominating the league for years. Superbosses move people around, trying them in different roles.
  • Finkelstein writes that turnover doesn’t concern them; they know people leave for reasons of bad fit or better offers – desirable losses in both cases in the eyes of a superboss who doesn’t need misfits and likes having protégés in powerful positions.

2.  All or Nothing

  • Superbosses demand everything
  • Working for them means putting them and their needs first.
  • Despite their demands, however, people strive to work for them to test their own limits and see what they can achieve.
  • They know working under a superboss might launch or solidify their careers.
  • Superbosses build a “cult” of personality that inspires people to be loyal and willing to do anything to please them.
  • Superboss Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live. NBC executive Dick Ebersol recalls, “Lorne just took my breath away” when he first pitched the show and described how it would change TV. Michaels’ team works obsessively, willingly, six long days and nights, week after week, to fulfill the vision they share with him.
  • For example, fashion king Ralph Lauren worked his people to the bone; even some who idolized him had to move on, if only to catch more than a glimpse of their families. Lauren infected people with his honesty and purpose, worked harder than anyone and gave his people room to do their own thing, to create and to be better than they thought possible – all while doing exactly what he wanted them to do.

3.  Don’t Ask Permission

  • Superbosses thrive on ideas and change
  • They want their people to experiment and break the rules.
  • Hand-in-hand with taking risk, superbosses make it safe to fail and talk about their own mistakes and failures.
  • They give their employees space to create.
  • Superbosses drive their staff members further and higher, never allowing them to grow content with their accomplishments.
  • Everyone on their team, Finkelstein asserts, changes and adapts, exercising agility as needed, anytime and without asking permission.

4.  Renaissance Minds

  • Superbosses teach by using intimate, personal techniques from centuries past, like apprenticeships.
  • Master painter Andrea del Verrocchio worked side-by-side with his apprentices, including Leonardo da Vinci and other famed Renaissance artists.
  • Modern superbosses don’t rely on rigid, structured and “bureaucratized” learning methods. Finkelstein describes the way they treat their people as apprentices, taking ownership of their professional development.
  • Superbosses work with their protégés each day – not necessarily gently – driving learning and progress by whatever means necessary.
  • Finkelstein finds no consistent practice, process or method among them. They all teach, through advising, coaching, questioning and especially demonstrating. Protégés often learn by observing their boss.
  • They discover the importance of finding and hiring diverse, “unusual talent.” They learn to prioritize dedication to their work and commitment to a vision while taking a no-nonsense approach to achieving it.

5.  Paradoxes

  • Superbosses trust their people and delegate superbly.
  • Finkelstein offers Gene Roberts, former editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, as an exemplary superboss. Roberts let his reporters pursue any stories they wanted on any topic, anywhere in the world, as long as they adhered to his standards and vision.
  • Superbosses tend to be “micromanagers.” They have a hand in every detail, while delegating nearly everything.
  • Superbosses balance cooperation and competition. For example, Saturday Night Live program teams work together day and night, in close quarters, and under pressure and deadlines. Though cast members compete for airtime, they cooperate and collaborate.
  • Superbosses like Lorne Michaels can manage such tightropes, Finkelstein says, because they appreciate the power of the team over the individual and understand how competition creates bonds.
  • The atmosphere that Berry Gordy Jr. created at Motown Records in the 1960s emerged from having competing artists and bands share the same small space, nearly always working and playing together – helping and feeding off each other. One artist achieving a hit didn’t mean there were fewer hits to go around; at Motown, hits generated more hits, and everyone, Finkelstein observes, benefited.
  • Superbosses share credit with their teams. Stan Lee, founder of Marvel Comics, was the first to publish comic book writers’ and artists’ names next to the comics they created. Lee once called “midcareer artist” Jack Kirby the “king of comics,” a title that many felt Kirby deserved “regardless of what Lee thought,” but receiving Lee’s approbation validated Kirby’s public status.


  • Superbosses.  Sidney Finkelstein.  Penguin, 2017 . Pages 272


Good People, Bad Managers.  How Work Culture Corrupts Good Intentions.

How To Avoid Managerial “Self-Protection”

When managers feel insecure or vulnerable, they are prey to six kinds of “self-protective” routines. To be a good manager, avoid these behaviors:

  1. “Speak-no-evil, hear-no-evil, report-no-evil groupthink” – Managers at the same organizational level may agree to cover for each other and not to criticize each other or expose negative behavior. Avoid the “denial, false posturing, deception and collusion” this kind of circle-the-wagons strategy entails.
  2. “Be seen as hardworking and overloaded” – Managers pretend to be suffering work overload to avoid taking on additional responsibilities. Instead, be real about your limits.
  3. “You can count on me; I’m a team player” – Managers act out a team-focused, “self-sacrificing” mentality. Instead, seek a valid approach to teamwork.
  4. “Being seen as open-minded and willing to be influenced” – Bad managers strive to appear open to others’ ideas, even when they aren’t. Good managers balance self-direction with staying open to their colleagues’ and team members’ input.
  5. “Borrowed-authority power-taking” – Managers may adopt the voice of a powerful higher-up to advocate for a self-serving purpose. Good managers stand on their own feet.
  6. “Use of process and committees to feign fair play” – Bad managers may exert undue influence on decisions they want to control, like who is named to certain committees. Good managers let processes unfold fairly.

Becoming a Better Manager

Leaders often need to “unlock themselves from the past” so they can shed bad habits that fueled undesirable managerial behavior. But managers who want to change need more than a sudden conversion to “golden-rule values”; they need to eat some “humble pie” by specifying the mistaken ideas they want to change. To make this shift, sit down with your employees to discuss and revise five cultural expectations that you want to “exorcize”:

  1. “Immediate accomplishment” – Expecting fast results creates pressure to meet short-term goals. This undermines the steady processes that strengthen staff relationships.
  2. “Objectivity” – Interpersonal interactions involve three “sets of interests”: your own, the other person’s and the relationship between you.
  3. “Accountability” – A lack of accountability brings negative consequences. Establish “two-sided accountability” to hold each person responsible for his or her results, while also making the relevant manager responsible for providing the support people need.
  4. “Perfection” – Work cultures generally don’t accept that people aren’t perfect. Encourage employees to ask questions instead of making preventable mistakes.
  5. “Competitiveness” – Teams and departments within a company shouldn’t compete. Save that for your rivals in the marketplace.

“Support an Other-Directed Management Mentality”

Creating new systems to help managers do better work and to fix your leadership processes demands a change in your corporate culture and mind-set. When competent managers recognize the mind-set that has restricted them in the past, they can embrace new, positive behaviors. Establish five positive “mind-set destinations” to encourage managers to be other-directed:

  1. “Feel secure” – Managers must be free of concerns about themselves so they can focus on their people. The corporate culture should give managers a sense of “psychological safety and job security.” The most powerful source of insecurity is a manager’s concern about being the victim of another manager’s “competence-disparaging attack.”
  2. Seek “authenticity and integrity” in each interaction – Leaders who set an example of being real, flawed, natural and open-spirited can promote integrity and authenticity. Managers need to trust their people that when they reveal information, no one will use it against them. When an error occurs, admitting and fixing it communicates genuine leadership.
  3. Adopt a “systems view” of how your actions affect others – Organizations are systems; any activity in one work unit is likely to affect other units. Develop a perspective based on “organization-wide teamwork” and a “systems-view mind-set.” Managers who operate with that viewpoint will envision the domino impact of their actions, notify those affected and solicit their feedback. This approach fosters “company-first outcomes.”
  4. “Be self-managing” – Managers are responsible for their career development and skills.
  5. Prioritize relationships – Managers must become better at building relationships.

Approaches to Self-Improvement

Leaders can use two strategies to enhance the “self-effectiveness” of employees at any level and to encourage staff members to discuss management. First, help staffers identify the feelings they have in response to specific managerial actions. Encourage them to explain how an action – such as dismissing their opinions – affects them.

Second, work to create a culture where people can tell you, as their leader, about the management problems they’re encountering. They know change begins with getting the attention of those who set the agenda and create the corporate culture, so be clear that you’re listening.


  • Good People, Bad Managers.  How Work Culture Corrupts Good Intentions. Samuel A. Culbert.  Oxford UP, 2017. Pages: 176.


10 Truths About Leading An Organization.

Executive interviews and a review of the literature reveal 10 topics that are crucial to effective management:

  1. Recruit talent – Hire the best people, keep them and assign them to pivotal roles.
  2. Develop talent – Invest in your employees’ continual growth. Identify the most important 5% of roles in your workforce, and focus attention on getting the best people into those positions. Some people have innate talents in certain skills they need to develop, and once they build their skills, they perform at world-class levels. Put those people into your critical 5% of roles while developing everyone else to competence.  Follow a model with roughly 70% of its focus on on-the-job training, 20% on coaching and 10% on classroom or online instruction. Tailor learning programs to individual needs, and focus on building and stretching peoples’ strengths.
  3. Manage performance – Differentiate between high and average performers. Do more for the best, but keep processes fair and open.
  4. Build great teams – Deploy high-performance teams to your most critical projects.
  5. Make good decisions – Teach people to avoid bias and groupthink.
  6. Redesign if needed – When you reorganize and implement change, consider the impact on people; communicate and gain their buy-in.
  7. Cut costs – Save money relentlessly but without cutting into muscle.
  8. Cultivate your culture – Obsess about workplace culture. Shape it; don’t let it simply happen.
  9. Transform your firm – Embrace necessary change. To make change work and stick, aim at “operational” and cultural factors. Use the “five frames approach.”
    • 1) Know your goals;
    • 2) assess your current gaps to achieving them;
    • 3) devise a plan to close the gaps;
    • 4) implement tailored initiatives to achieve your plan; and
    • 5) generate processes to embed continual improvement. Execute using small experiments; ramp up what works. Integrate new processes into routines to turn them into habits. Involve your employees in planning; offer frequent, small, nonfinancial rewards for good work; leverage their strengths; and connect them to a shared purpose.
  10. Develop leaders – Use planning and coaching to help new leaders make the transition into management.


Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Problems.

Over the course of 20 years, members of Bruce Tulgan’s management research and training firm, RainmakerThinking, asked “hundreds of thousands” of managers in seminars, meetings and interviews which employee situations they find most difficult.

Based on that research, Tulgan identifies common management challenges that he groups into seven areas: being a new manager, teaching employees self-management, managing performance, managing attitudes, handling superstars and managing “forces outside your control.”

Sound management depends on regular, planned communication with the people you supervise and lays out the most effective management techniques.

He emphasizes conducting regular “high-structure, high-substance, ongoing one-on-one dialogues” with each employee that relate to that person’s responsibilities.

Top 10 Lessons For The Most Common Management Challenges.

  1. Typical management challenges include complex technology, employee interdependency, resource restraints, globalization and an increased work pace.
  2. Ultimately, all employees must learn to manage themselves and their attitudes.
  3. Meanwhile, managers must refresh their management style, handle star performers as well as struggling employees and cope with circumstances beyond their control.
  4. Most managers make the mistake of “undermanaging,” which leads to problems.
  5. Effective communication separates sound managers from undermanagers.
  6. Managers waste time attending useless meetings, dealing with daily email and being interrupted. To address these and other challenges, communicate more effectively.
  7. Create “high-structure, high-substance team meetings” and hold “one-on-one dialogues” with your people that focus on their responsibilities.
  8. Use these conversations to set clear expectations, establish accountability, gauge performance, and supply feedback and support.
  9. Keep one hour free daily for one-on-one dialogues with three or four subordinates.
  10. Excellent management requires time, focus, follow-up and overall effort.

6 Ways On “Staying Ahead of the Curve.”

  1. Don’t simply “go through the motions” of being a manager.
  2. Engage conscientiously one-on-one with your people. Regular dialogues offer repeated opportunities to evaluate employees and provide them with helpful feedback.
  3. Insist your employees report to you verbally and in writing about their progress and performance and how both match your expectations.
  4. Don’t expect such intense – but necessary – management to be simple to institute. It will require maximum energy and conviction. You’ll need superior focus to stay ahead of the curve.
  5. Don’t let time and other pressures force you to revert back to poor communications and autopilot undermanagement.
  6. Keeping to the fundamentals is the secret of meeting management challenges.


  • The 27 Challenges Managers Face.  Step-by-Step Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Problems.  Bruce Tulgan.  Jossey-Bass, 2014 .  Pages: 256


7 Ways How to Get People to Do Stuff.  Master the Art and Science of Persuasion and Motivation.

Intrinsic Drives and Real Motivations

What drives people to act? What motivates your employees?

If you knew, you would get more out of your interactions with them, and so would they, including deeper commitment, clearer communication and greater engagement.

You would be able to get them “to do stuff” that you need to get done by working with what they want to achieve.

To that end, turn to scientific and psychological studies that reveal useful information about human motivation.

Applying psychology to interpersonal relations can make you a better leader and communicator. Start by working with the “seven drives” that motivate people:

1. “The Need to Belong”

Most people yearn to be insiders. Humans evolved to want to interact with each other. Use these strategies to evoke people’s “sense of belonging”:

  • Build social connection – Students worked harder on shared tasks when they thought they shared a birthday with others in the group. People care what others think.
  • Use nouns instead of verbs – The way you phrase a request can strengthen people’s sense of group membership. For example, ask someone to become a donor, rather than asking if he or she will donate. Calling someone a donor evokes a “sense of belonging to a group of people who will donate and makes it more likely that they will in fact donate.”
  • Let your body and mannerisms talk – Make sure you subtly copy the other person’s mannerisms and body language during your conversation. Mirroring creates emotional “feedback loops” that aid communication. Be aware of body position and hand and facial gestures.
  • Engage in “synchronous activity” – Being in sync can include laughing together, celebrating and other bonding activities that release oxytocin in the brain, making people more trusting and empathetic. Tone of voice affects synchronous bonding, so enunciate, and don’t rush your words.
  • Consider favors – Give a small gift to ensure a positive response in the future.
  • “ Use competition” – Remember to call on rivalry with care. Men respond to it, but it demotivates women.
  • Look the part – Dress a level up from those you want to influence; adopt the same wardrobe as your organization’s in-group. People respond to those they find attractive.
  • Get the first word – To convey group leadership, speak first and with enthusiasm.

2. “Habits”

To become more efficient, transform a useful action into an automatic behavior. Productive habits help focus overly busy brains. You don’t spend valuable time and thought carrying out automatic actions. A cycle of “cue – routine – reward” triggers and reinforces habits. Use this cycle to understand and influence others’ habits and to “attach” new habits to existing ones:

  • Cue and reward – For example, influence the members of your staff to keep their desks tidy by asking them a question at the same time each day (the cue) so they respond by tidying their desks (routine) and then letting them go home early when they’re done (reward).
  • Break it up – Bring people along in small stages. The “Couch to 5K” jogging app cues you to get moving, guides you through an exercise routine and rewards you with a progress chart. By setting out simple, thought-free incremental steps and providing progress feedback, this exercise app prompts a virtuous, habit-forming loop.
  • Engage autopilot – Once cued, the other stages should be routine and decision-free.
  • Attach a new habit to an old, embedded one – Forming a habit takes 66 days on average. The secret to making it work is “anchoring.”
  • Identify possible anchors – Observe people’s routines to isolate a behavior that would work for anchoring a new habit.
  • Go small – Anchoring works best for subtle change when the existing habit relates strongly to the new one.

3. “The Power of Stories”

Everyone has a self-narrative in mind and a persona that fits that narrative. If you start to believe a different story of yourself, your persona changes. This is “story editing.” You can edit your story and influence other people to edit theirs. A polished story has tremendous power.

  • Telling stories – Turn your requests into compelling stories to get people to respond. Emotional stories engage listeners’ empathy; they respond with their feelings.
  • Editing – People take on varied personas for varied situations. In order to form a new behavior, anchor a persona to one already in place. Edit a persona by gently tweaking it over time.
  • Consistency and persona – People must be comfortable with persona changes in order to integrate them, since they also seek internal consistency. To start a change process, find and build on a small inconsistency. For example, buying one Apple device could be the wedge that changes you from a “Windows person” to an “Apple person.”
  • Engagement matters – People stick to “public commitments.” Get people to endorse your product or service by asking them to give you a review or testimonial. Paying for testimonials doesn’t work.
  • Get it in handwriting – Writing longhand with pen or pencil boosts “memory consolidation” better than typing on a keyboard. It also improves follow-through.
  • Major edits – Story editing can fix even the most difficult self-stories, such as those involving post-traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes, only a brand new story will work. Once seeded – perhaps by listening to somebody else’s story of recovery and renewal – the urge for self-consistency consolidates the new narrative.

4. “Carrots and Sticks”

In his 1890s experiments, Ivan Pavlov made dogs salivate by training them to associate the sound of a ringing bell with the arrival of food. Pavlov named this reflex “classical conditioning.” It resembles automatic “stimulus-response” conditioning, which is also effective. B.F. Skinner, who studied “operant conditioning,” talked of behavior reinforcement rather than reward. To make use of the carrot and stick, or award-based approach to motivation, find a stimulus for the response you would like to get, then add a new stimulus to make the response automatic. For example, to get people to state their ideas (response) ask them (stimulus), then add a new stimulus like turning to a clean page on your flip chart in anticipation of their idea. If you do this regularly, you will “automate” the response; just flipping the page will make ideas flow. Remember:

  • Timing is everything – Reward a new behavior every time it happens. Reinforce an established behavior by changing the “reward schedule.” Vary the ratio of reward (the number of times you give a reward compared with the number of times you could give it) to get the person to stay with the behavior. Shake up the interval (the time between rewards) to get someone to enact a behavior reliably. Make sure that the reward is correct for that person, and give it right after the behavior.
  • Regular rewards – Providing rewards on a scheduled basis (“fixed ratio”) may boost behavior for a while. The “goal-gradient effect,” where people speed up their behavior when a goal is in sight, may help to build the desired behavior into a regular action.
  • “Shaping” – Use rewards only where behaviors are already in place. Encourage people to focus on their remaining tasks, not just on what they’ve already done. Shaping behavior is more operant; use it to active new behaviors by carefully using small steps.
  • “Negative reinforcement” – Reward people by removing something they don’t want or dislike. This is an effective negative reinforcement. Punishment is not a negative or a positive reinforcement; it’s a short-term fix and seldom effective.

5. “Instincts”

Older parts of your brain identify dangers quickly. That’s why you feel fear and why it motivates you. Food, sex, death and fear of losing what’s important to you are human instincts that drive how you respond to and remember life situations.

  • Use the fear – Make people worry they might lose something they value. The prospect of gain motivates, but fear of loss is much more potent. Let people try things, so they value them.
  • Lighten up – A buoyant mood makes people more adventurous. Comfort and safety are important, so put your clients at ease; don’t seat them on the hard chairs.
  • Mood swings – When people feel adventuresome, they’re less likely to stick to what they know. That might be bad for your business. Trigger their fear of losing a familiar product.
  • Choice and control – Everyone likes to feel in control. Making choices gives you control; having too many options can be confusing and even frightening.
  • Attention grabbing – Make your messages novel and unpredictable. The desire to have some touted item can provoke the release of the brain chemical dopamine. Food works as an attention stimulator, as does the merest hint of sex. Scarcity fuels curiosity and notice, so limit the amount of information you give out.

6. “The Desire for Mastery”

People seek expertise in skills that matter to them. This desire impels people more than rewards or punishment. To motivate mastery, a skill should be “moderately challenging.” For a difficult or long-term project, spur the desire for mastery. Consider these motivators:

  • Simple or complex? – Always use rewards and reinforcement to get people to do simple tasks.
  • “Elite” and independent – Self-motivation trumps inducement, so give people freedom to learn and do. Make sure you highlight the prestige of their task to make them part of a masterful elite.
  • Chance to fail – You may need to increase the level of challenge. If a task is too easy, offers no battleground and has no chance of error, people won’t want to master it.
  • “Objective” feedback – People learn better with the right kind of feedback, timed correctly. Having the intrinsic motivation to master a task is the best driver, so do not interrupt that impetus with unfocused comments. Tell people if they are getting it right.
  • Flow state – In the immersive, task-focused mental frame of mind known as flow, a person zones in on a task, and everything else fades to the background. Pursuing mastery creates opportunities for flow. Autonomy, safety, good feedback and clear-cut goals also inspire attentive flow.

7. “Tricks of the Mind”

Nobel Economics laureate Daniel Kahneman discusses two distinct aspects of human thinking: System 1 is automatic, and System 2 takes effort. System 1 makes quick judgments and isn’t as energy-hungry as System 2. Keep these ideas in mind to use this approach:

  • Quick or considered? – For fast decisions, use a simple message that engages System 1. To get people to ponder a decision, use a complex message to engage System 2.
  • “Priming” – System 1 is suggestible; encourage it to react in predictable ways. Primed with thoughts of money, people are less generous. Primed with thoughts of death, they empathize more with their family or in-group and authority sways them more readily.
  • Number anchoring – You can always use numbers to lure people. For example, a price of $19.95 makes shoppers more likely to purchase than a price of $20. Top your pricelist with an expensive item; System 1 anchors to that and sees the prices below as reasonable.
  • Familiarity and truth – When you expose people to the same repeated messages, they tend to believe they’re true. Chain restaurants and such businesses use this “exposure effect.” People overestimate the chance of an event recurring if a similar one happened recently, and vice versa.
  • “Dissonance,” “bias” and “schemas” – The structures you use to group data in your mind are called schemas and they’re unique to you. Never assume others have the same schemas, but try to understand theirs. People fall prey to “confirmation bias” when something confirms their schema; they feel “cognitive dissonance” when it doesn’t.
  • Simple tricks – Use easy-to-remember, easy-to-pronounce names in marketing. Avoid abstractions. Provide regular breaks in the flow of information, putting the most important stuff at the beginning or end. Give people time for “mind wandering,” which breeds creativity.
  • Regret – People avoid making decisions they might rue. Limit opportunities in order to reduce chances for disappointment.



  • iStock Photo

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