Great Leadership By Dan

15 Ways to Set a Positive Example as a Manager

Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Great Leadership By Dan | 0 comments

“I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

– Charles Barkley

When you’re a manager, like it or not, you ARE a role model. All eyes are on you. The example you set has an enormous impact on your direct report employees and those around you. If you are a newly promoted or hired manager, your employees will watch, listen, and learn about what matters to you, what’s important, what to do and what not to do. If you’ve been a manager in the same role for a while, they already have learned, and the norms you’ve perhaps unconsciously established are more powerful than that “Our Company Values” poster on the wall.

In addition to influencing your employee’s behavior and attitudes through your day-to-day behaviors, you’re also having an impact on their long term development. We all learn powerful leadership lessons from the examples – both positive and negative – from current and former managers.

Do you want your employees to conduct themselves with the highest level of professionalism? You may want to review following list and ask yourself the following questions:

Is this what I would expect and want from my employees? Am I setting the right example? What kind of lessons am I teaching?

Note: none of the items on the list below are made up – all are from the Great Leadership files of actual manager behaviors. Hopefully not my own.

1. Arrive to work and meetings on time, and don’t make a habit of leaving early.

2. Pay attention to your own development. Be a humble and continuous learner, and be transparent about your development needs and what you are doing to overcome them.

3. Ask for feedback – be open to it and listen – and be willing to give caring, constructive, and frank feedback to others.

4. Be open to change – especially when the change isn’t your own idea. When a change is announced, employees will be looking at you to see how they should react.

5. Don’t participate in gossip, spreading rumors, or speaking poorly about your boss, fellow managers, or about another one of your employees.

6. Be discreet and respect confidences.

7. Keep your non-work related business to a minimum. And don’t ask your employees to assist with your non-work related business (i.e., picking up your clothes at the drycleaner).

8. Treat everyone – regardless of their level or degree of influence – with respect.

9. Tell the truth – be a straight shooter, with no white lies. Own up to your own mistakes.

10. Keep the cynicism and sarcasm to a minimum. It poisons the work environment.

11. Maintain a sense of humor – about yourself – but never at the expense of others.

12. Pitch in and lend a hand doing the dirty work now and then.

13. Watch your language – with few exceptions, don’t swear. I don’t care what the studies say – there’s no place for F-bombs in the vocabulary of a professional manager.

14. Don’t lavish yourself or your management team with perks that are off-limits to the rank and file.

15. Maintain a professional distance from your employees – you are their manager, not their friend.

While you may not agree with every item on the list, wouldn’t you prefer to work for a manager who follows most of them?
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Three Communication Tips Every Leader Should Use

Posted by on Apr 2, 2014 in Great Leadership By Dan | 0 comments

Guest post from Joe McCormack:

Brief breakthroughs can come at any time.

“I wish I knew how important brevity was for me 30 years ago.” That’s a powerful confession to hear from an accomplished Fortune 500 professional.

I had just wrapped up a “Brief Leadership” seminar with a group of manufacturing managers and one of their senior leaders pulled me aside afterward. I thought he was going to thank me or ask a follow-up question.
“I just can’t help myself with words,” he lamented. I was floored by his candor.
Recognizing that his successful career, nearing its end, had been filled with constant falling into temptation to over-explain, he confided to me that his default mode was to dump on his subordinates and give them lengthy lectures.

He was looking me straight in the eye, completely serious and contrite. “I’m going to change. I just wish I knew this at the beginning of my career.”

I walked away thinking that he’s not alone. Many managers feel that way when they realize the impact they have on others when they get lost in their own words. Their ability to lead, manage and stay ahead is hindered by a lack of discipline when communicating.

In your career, grasping that “less is more” can be a powerful, immediate and profound realization.

So why don’t more leaders catch themselves before falling? Who needs to get the message that talking less and listening more is an essential 21st-Century leadership skill? What can professionals do to avoid the lure to be long-winded?
Here are three pointers that will help you avoid the temptation to pour it on:
1.     Brief means balance.Professionals often think that when they communicate they need to share everything they know, regardless of how long it may take. They’re perpetually running out of time to cram it all in. Brevity means maintaining a fine balance of being clear, concise and compelling. When you’ve made your point, don’t try to make it sharper.
2.     Filling what’s already filled.Your subordinates and colleagues are already flooded with information, constantly interrupted and highly inattentive. Think of their heads like a glass of water with only a few inches left to the top. Your job is to be certain that their minds don’t overflow with your wasted words.
3.     Leave room for a response.Pause to give people time to process. Their minds are so often so burdened and divided that they need to take small breaks to digest and respond. These silent pauses are critical to knowing not only that what you’ve said has sunk in, but that they’re on board not over board.

Long story, short: Choose your words carefully and economically. Effective leaders today are mindful communicators, aware of the needs of their audience as well as the message they are trying to get across, briefly.

Joe McCormack is an experienced marketing executive, successful entrepreneur and author. He founded and serves as managing director of The Sheffield Company, an award-winning boutique agency recognized for its focus on narrative messaging and visual storytelling. His new book, Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less(Wiley & Sons, 2014) tackles the timeliness of the “less is more” mandate. In 2013, he founded The BRIEF Lab as a specialty institute to help business and military leaders become lean communicators. There are currently facilities in Chicago, IL and Southern Pines, NC.
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Key Performance Indicators of Good Leadership

Posted by on Mar 10, 2014 in Great Leadership By Dan | 0 comments

Guest post from Dr. Greg Alston:

“Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.”
– Peter Drucker

This quote by one of the most respected management theorists of the last 100 years crystallizes the essence of how to determine whether someone is a good leader or not.  Good leaders find a way to get the job done.  Great leaders find a way to get their team to perform better than they thought was possible and to succeed despite their shortcomings. Good people like to join good companies run by good leaders. Unfortunately good people also leave good companies because of a bad manager. And bad managers infect every organization.

A bad leader is identified by his ability to destroy the effectiveness of his team. A BossHole is that particularly bad manager who sucks the joy, life, energy and enthusiasm out of their organization. The BossHole Effect is what happens to a company run by a poor leader. Instead of performing high quality work that adds value to the economy they do uninspired mediocre work. Instead of providing great customer service that inspires customers to sing their praises they do sloppy inattentive work that annoys their customers. These BossHole managers are the arrogant, irritating, snarky people who make good people want to quit even though they like the company.

Here are ten ways you can tell the difference between a BossHole and a good boss:
1.     When a good boss does something stupid he will acknowledge the screw-up, apologize for his error and fix it. BossHoles never think anything is their fault and they never apologize because in their imaginary world they are never wrong.
2.     Good bosses normally ask you to do something for them and only occasionally tell you what to do. BossHoles never ask, they always tell. And they demand that you to stop whatever you are doing to get it done for them regardless of what else you have to do.
3.     Good bosses only hold meetings when they are necessary to move the team effort forward. Bad bosses hold meetings all the time so they can hear themselves speak. They do not respect their employee’s time or efforts.
4.     Good bosses’ immediately correct poor performance in an employee before it has a chance to get out of hand. A BossHole ignores poor performance until it festers and becomes such a big deal that he has to belittle and demean someone in front of their peers.
5.     A good boss knows that good people occasionally do bad things and need to be given a break. A BossHole thinks that all employees need to be micromanaged for them to be useful.
6.     A good boss deflects praise for a job well done on to the efforts of his team and steps up to take the blame for any failure. A BossHole takes credit for anything good that happens and deflects the blame for any failure on to his team.
7.     A good leader finds a way to inspire average people to perform at a championship caliber level. A BossHole finds a way to demoralize above average people to perform mediocre work.
8.     A good leader builds consensus and inspires his team to new heights. A BossHole creates a culture of infighting, back biting sabotage of the team’s effort.
9.     A good leader leads from in front a BossHole drives from behind.
10.A good leader won’t allow his team to fail. A BossHole won’t allow his team to succeed.
After 35 years of research in to the key performance indicators of leadership success a new tool has been developed to allow employees to quickly and easily identify BossHole behavior. The BossHole Rating scale describes 5 different categories of Boss. These are: Great Boss, Good Boss, Partial BossHole, BossHole and Complete BossHole. The leadership dimensions assessed focus on the unmistakable behaviors that signal good and bad leadership behavior. Anyone can use the Boss Rating system to rate a current or former boss using the Rate Your Boss Tool or they can rate themselves using the separate Rate Your Self as a Boss Tool.
About the author:
Dr. Greg L. Alston is the developer of the Boss Rating System and the Best Selling author of, The BossHole Effect, Three Simple Steps Anyone Can Follow to Become a Great Boss and Lead a Successful Team. He has owned and operated a variety of businesses, worked for hundreds of bosses and supervised thousands of employees. His no nonsense approach and clear informal teaching style will teach you how to Coach others, Command respect, and Create an environment in which your team can thrive. Leadership is not a personality trait; it is a way of acting. Great leaders build great teams. Great teams achieve great things. The call to leadership is a call to action and this action begins when you buy and read his book. 
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How to Get Recognized as an Emerging Young Leader

Posted by on Mar 4, 2014 in Great Leadership By Dan | 0 comments

This post recently appeared in SmartBlog on Leadership:

I recently asked readers to submit their burning leadership development questions. Those that get picked for a post will receive a free copy of my eBook.

This question from Nicholas:

“What are some good ways to get recognized as an emerging young leader in your organization without sounding like you’re trying to toot your own horn?”

My mother always told me if you just kept your head down and did good work, you would get ahead in your career. While there is certainly some truth to that advice, there’s a lot more too it when it comes to getting noticed for your leadershippotential.

I’ll share some insider information with you as to how most organizations look assess for leadership potential.

According to research by the Corporate Leadership Council, performance was found to be more of a “gatekeeper” to being even considered for promotion to the next level. That is, 90% of “high potentials” were strong performers. So, yes, being great at whatever you are doing matters. If you’re a poor or average performer in your current role, you’ll never be considered for higher level responsibilities.  While we all like to think of ourselves of being a top performer, the reality is, most of us are not. So step one, especially early in a career, is to establish a consistent track record of strong performance.

However, only 29% of high performers have what it takes to succeed at the next level. Other factors come into play when it comes to predicting success at the next level, including aspiration (willingness to take on new, higher level responsibilities), engagement (your commitment and willingness to go the extra mile), and ability (a combination of innate characteristics and learned skills).

The good news is, many of the abilities that organizations look at to evaluate leadership potential can be learned. According to Development Dimensions International, employees that demonstrate the following abilities have a strong chance at being successful in a senior leadership role:

1. Propensity to lead. They step up to leadership opportunities.
2. They bring out the best in others
3. Authenticity. They have integrity, admit mistakes, and don’t let their egos get in their way
4. Receptivity to feedback. They seek out and welcome feedback
5. Learning agility.
6. Adaptability. Adaptability reflects a person’s skill at juggling competing demands and adjusting to new situations and people. A key here is maintaining an unswerving, “can do” attitude in the face of change.
7. Navigates ambiguity. This trait enables people to simplify complex issues and make decisions without having all the facts.
8. Conceptual thinking. Like great chess players and baseball managers,
the best leaders always have the big picture in mind. Their ability to think two, three, or more moves ahead is what separates them from competitors.
9. Cultural fit
10. Passion for results

So, I’d suggest evaluating yourself against these characteristics and see where you stack up. Of course, there are limits to self-assessment (we tend to be clueless as to how we are perceived by others), so it’s even better if you can get some candid feedback from your boss or others.

Then, identify 1-2 things you need to get better at and create a development plan to address those areas. I’d recommend sharing it with boss, for a number of reasons.  First of all, to get your bosses feedback, and secondly, to get additional ideas and support. Finally, going back to the “aspiration” component of potential, to show that you’re interested in leadership development and willing to do what it takes to learn and grow.

Just one more thing when it comes to “tooting your own horn”. That’s something many of us are not comfortable with, and no one wants to be seen as a self-promoting blowhard. It’s always better when other people toot your horn for you. That is, your boss and decision makers are hearing good things about you behind your back, from your peers and others. Given that, managers, as much as they should, are not always aware of every one of their employee’s accomplishments. It’s up to you to humbly let them know on a regular basis during your regular meetings, and especially during your annual performance review. A lot of managers will ask for performance review “input” – this is the one time per year that you are allowed to loudly toot that horn.

It’s the lucky few that can just consistently shine and get picked for one plum role after another. The rest of have to work hard at it, do a little self-promotion, and have the confidence to ask for it when the opportunity presents itself.
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4 Steps for Making Change Happen

Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 in Great Leadership By Dan | 0 comments

Guest post from August Turak:
The main reason why transformation fails is because organizations are very resistant to change, especially in organizations where powerful executives have their own interests and territory. How do you overcome that? Here are four ways to make change happen:
Step 1: Try to be compassionate — Put yourself in the other person’s shoes

All resistance to change is not rooted in hard-headed self-interest. Genetics teaches us that the vast majority of “change” called “mutations” are actually harmful to the organism. Only a tiny few lead to evolutionary breakthroughs. We are all genetically programmed to be conservative as a result. Historically, the vast majority of political and social change led to chaos not utopia. My company sold software and resistance to change was our biggest objection. If the new software implementation went off without a hitch no one cared or noticed. But if it crashed the organization, heads rolled. Our clients’ resistance to change was not irrational and it was up to us, not our clients, to manage it. There is a lot of wisdom in the old adage that “no one ever got fired for buying IBM” — or Microsoft or Google. First of all, put yourself in the other guy’s shoes and realize that the risks involved are real. It may very well be his/her job, not yours, that is on the line if your transformation goes awry.
Also compassionately remember that executives may not have all the power you give them credit for. The days of telling people to jump and having them say “how high?” are gone. Implementing change today relies on building consensus rather than executive fiat. 

Step 2: Have a plan for getting initial buy-in (include contingencies)

Make sure your proposal takes into account all these legitimate concerns and potential dangers surrounding change. Make sure you have a plan for getting everyone affected by the change on board including a contingency for what you’ll do if people turn against you later on.

Step 3: Minimize your risks

The next step is to minimize these risks. Think of all those cleaning solutions that recommend that you try them out on some inconspicuous swath of fabric first. Find some “out of the way” department or project to experiment on where the variables are controllable, the investment is minimal, and results are easily measured. Let the success of your little experiment become contagious. Others will start saying: “Who are those guys? How can we get results like that?”
Soon your experiment will spread virally and top management will no longer be risking a revolution, but responding to a bottom up groundswell backed by hard data.

Step 4: Measure results with hard data

This final point about hard data is critical. If you can’t or won’t measure results don’t expect sympathy from me or any line manager. I don’t care how theoretically “worthwhile” your transformation is, you must link your efforts to the mission of the company and that means, whenever possible, financially. If you can’t measure results then you probably shouldn’t try to bring about change, but you’ll be surprised to find that almost anything, whether qualitative or quantitative, can be measured if we just put our heads to it.

If you are in a business culture that is resistant to change, instead of wasting energy on frustration follow this formula. In the next couple of weeks, research a change that you want to make happen. Anticipate all possible objections and create contingency plans for anything that could go wrong. Put in place measurable goals to track success. Create consensus by presenting your plan to colleagues and stakeholders. With preparation, contingency planning, buy-in, and metrics, you’ll find that bringing about change is far easier than you thought.
Author Bio:
August Turak is a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, award winning writer and author of Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity (Columbia Business School Publishing; July 2013). He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Selling Magazine, the New York Times, and Business Week, and is a popular leadership contributor at His website is
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Leading Like the Energizer Bunny

Posted by on Feb 20, 2014 in Great Leadership By Dan | 0 comments

Guest post by Great Leadership monthly contributor Beth Armknecht Miller:


Guess what?  It can’t be done.  No human can keep on going and going without recharging their “batteries”.  And when leaders start running on empty, bad things can happen.
Leaders who aren’t able to effectively manage their energy are subject to:

·       Making poor decisions
·       Communicating ineffectively
·       Missing the obvious and the subtle
·       Managing their emotions improperly

So what techniques do leaders use to manage their energy?
1. They surround themselves with people who are energy producers not energy users.

Take a look around you. Where are the windmills and solar panels in your organization and personal life? You should be able to think of their names quickly. When you need a boost reach out to them.

These are the people who see a half full glass and immediately start making lemonade out of a pile of lemons. They are also the people who respect you and value the gifts you bring to the organization, and they are the ones who step in to help you when you need help.
2. They take short periods of time each day for just themselves.

We all have our own biorhythms and we know at what point in the day our energy will drop and when we are at our best. Prepare for those drops in energy before they come and take time to reenergize. Talk a walk and visit with your energy producers or find a quiet place to close your eyes and go to your “happy” place.  This is a place that is either real or imagined where you can refuel.  It is a place that only you know; it creates a sense of peace and relaxation.

3. They use their high-energy times like the Energizer Bunny.

Leaders can accomplish a lot when they use their high-energy times to tackle the difficult and important such as decisions and communications. They quickly prioritize and use their energy as effectively as possible by getting the most important things off your list.

4. They delegate effectively.

The leaders who feel drained, more often than not are just saying yes to too many people and projects. They are the ones who want to help solve all the problems because they have the correct solution.

Being able to let go of things that others around you can do, may even want to do, is a great energy management technique. Focus on those things that are providing the most value to the organization and those things that use your strengths not your challenges.
Don’t get trapped into the cycle of low energy.  Use these 4 techniques to manage your energy, decrease your stress, and become a much more effective leader. Not only will your employees thank you but your friends and family will as well.
Beth Armknecht Miller is CEO of Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. Beth is a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer. She is a graduate of Babson College and Harvard Business School’s OPM program. She is certified in Myers Briggs, Hogan, and Business DNA. And she is a Certified Managerial Coach. Beth’s insight and expertise has made her a sought-after speaker, and she has been featured in numerous industry blogs and publications. To learn more about Beth visit BethArmknechtMiller.comor
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