Rules To Lead By

Post by Ray 6 years ago - Social Business - 0 Comments


I don’t usually do this; reprint in almost it’s entirety an article I’ve read. But when I came across this on Amber Nasland’s blog: Brass Tack Thinking (a must read, BTW), I thought you would benefit reading these very wise leadership tips.

None of the management tips that guest blogger, Tamsen McMahon has listed below are revolutionary. We’ve likely heard them before. But if we only needed to hear something once, we wouldn’t have an industry built on management advice. (And I wouldn’t have a job.)

So here’s a refresher: Are you the best boss?


March 25, 2011 | by Tamsen McMahon

People are at the heart of any change. To make change happen, you have to have people who can make change happen.

So consider this a tribute to all of those people I’ve known—whether as manager or the one managed. This is what you’ve taught me:


1. Understand that your primary job is to remove obstacles from your staff’s path. That includes you. If you’re in the way, move.

2. Empower them. Give them authority, give them confidence, give them space to do their job.

3. Be their best advocate. Your staff always gets the credit for a job well done. You take the blame when things don’t go well. This is a conscious decision. Never throw your staff under the bus.

4. Be empathic. Empathy is required, and can’t be taught. Improved, yes. Taught, no.

5. Don’t give anyone a task you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. And if it’s a real crap task, make sure you acknowledge that. Bonus points if you apologize for it, too.

6. A corollary: Don’t establish (or enforce) rules you don’t follow yourself. What’s good for you is good for them, and vice versa. Different sets of rules for management and staff breed discontent.

7. People will reach the bar wherever you set it. If you set the bar low, don’t be surprised when they don’t aim higher.

8. Set expectations, not executions. Your way is not the only way—and their way could be better.

9. If there’s a problem, address it. Right away. Privately. Problems don’t just go away. Respect your staff enough to give them a chance to correct what’s wrong. Shame doesn’t motivate.

10. Go for “no surprises.” Just like a performance review shouldn’t be the first time your staff hears about a problem, the day of a deadline should not be the first time you hear something’s not getting done. Don’t blindside them, and they won’t blindside you. But set this expectation up early.

11. When hiring, temperament is more important than experience. Typically, we hire for skills and fire for personality. But skills can be taught, fit can’t.

12. Your staff don’t belong to you. You have succeeded as a manager when you coach someone into a higher and better position—whether in your organization or out of it. Don’t be selfish.

13. 99% of the time people do the right thing without being told. Don’t manage to the 1%. Trust people to do the right thing. They will.

14. Tell them what you know. Tell them what you don’t know. And tell them what you know but can’t tell—and why. Over communicate. Lack of information causes many more problems than too much.

15. Praise in public. Critique in private.

16. Only critique the professional, not the personal. Yes, that’s hard to do when you’re addressing a personal behavior, but you have to do the work of figuring out how to relate that to the professional environment. Otherwise you’re in the realm of telling people to “wear more lipstick.” Not acceptable.

17. Respect their time. Especially when they’re meeting with you. Be punctual. Be relevant. Be useful. If you meet over lunch, feed them. If you ask them to work late, let them have that time somewhere else.

18. Let them vent.

19. You don’t have to know how to do what your staff does. But you do need to know what they need from you, what they care about, what gets in their way, and what their goals are. And you need to know why they consider what they do important.

20. Don’t micromanage. Goldfish will grow as big as their tank can accommodate. Give your staff an ocean, not a teacup.

21. They don’t have to like you, but they do have to respect you. But you have to earn respect. You can’t legislate it. Oppression breeds rebellion, especially if it seems arbitrary. You’ll get as much respect as you give.

22. Mistakes are fine. Just not the same mistake, and not more than once. The first mistake is usually your fault. The second is theirs. Or yours, if you didn’t address the first one.

23. When something goes wrong, blame is useless. Find out what happened only so you can help your staff figure out how to avoid repeating the mistake. If you use the discovery process to lay the basis for punishment, you’ll never, ever get the real story again.

24. Your staff will do what you do, not what you say. Your staff is a reflection of you. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, look to yourself.

25. You are nothing without them.


About Ray Hiltz

Thanks for dropping by. I'm the Director of Digital Marketing for My background in business includes non-profit (performing arts), restaurants and Promotions. Having moved on from my own strategic consulting company, I now write about what interests me. So in this blog, you may read about my thoughts on marketing, health issues and business culture. You can follow me on Twitter @rayhiltz or @image24Call

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