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Executive Development tips from Conselium Executive Search

Updated on July 28, 2008

Becoming a Great Manager

by Maurice Gilbert

Long-term organizational success is built upon a foundation of reliable and skillful leadership. Jim Collins, renowned author of the influential business tome Good to Great, defines a top-level leader as one who is able to “channel their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company.” The key for any manger is not to suppress ego, self-interest, or ambition; rather, truly effective leaders are able to channel their ambition first and foremost for the organization, not themselves.

What are some specific steps that you can take to become a great manager?

Build Great Teams

First, examine yourself and your management strategy. Understand that being a great manager does not require being a micro-manager. Your people want to taught, coached, and led by someone they admire and respect. Your job is to built and effective team, and then lead that team to success.

Here are some ideas to build your team:

• Hire smart people - they make you and your department look good.

• Hire positive people - you cannot change attitude.

• Provide encouragement - threats detract from morale and lead to turnover.

• Openly acknowledge the successes of your staff - praise is powerful

• Allow your staff to make mistakes without reprisal - we grow from our setbacks more than from our successes

Build Your People Through Employee Mentoring

You must also be ever mindful of the example that you set on a day-to-day basis. Your actions will have a profoundly greater influence on your ability to lead your people than any confluence of charismatically spoken words. Furthermore, when you combine a consistent example with active mentoring, your ability to build trust and motivation in your people multiplies.

You can be an effective mentor by:

• Being a positive role model and identifying other managers who can do the same.

• Supporting your staff in calculated risk-taking that is essential for their growth.

• Working with your staff individually to understand and help them develop their unique skills

• Supporting continuing education efforts that are available through professional organizations

Actively involving yourself in mentoring will make it possible for each member of your staff to develop to his or her fullest potential; this will then make each of your people more valuable to your department.

Accelerate Change

Becoming a great manager who leads a great department also requires the ability to accelerate change. Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. If you want to be better than you are, and get more than you’ve gotten, you must be willing to do things differently. As Peter Drucker said, “Every organization must be prepared to abandon everything it does to survive in the future.”

Your role as a manager is to help facilitate change among your staff so that your company can adapt and change to the demands of a competitive global economy. It is human nature to resist change. So how can you help your staff “buy-in” quickly to make the necessary adjustments?

Here are some steps for effectively accelerating change:

• Explain how embracing the change will benefit you, them and the company.

• “Sell” the change - communicate ideas enthusiastically; do not be apologetic.

• Make it clear to your team that effective change is an ongoing part of growth for a company and for individuals.

Be the Cause, Not the Effect

For people to follow you, especially during times of change, they must trust you. You must have credibility and be able to galvanize enthusiasm for your goals and vision. As Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “Shallow people believe in luck, wise and strong people believe in cause and effect.” One way to build your peoples’ belief in you as their leader is to have them see you as the cause rather than the effect.

A true motivator of others asks, “What do we want to cause to happen today? What do we want to produce?” These are the best management questions of all. When your staff sees you as a cause instead of an effect, they will begin to think the same way. People who have a hard time managing other people often have a hard time asking these questions. Ineffective managers think about what is happening to them instead of what they’re going to make happen.

Be a Successful Corporate Athlete

So be like Michael Jordan and make something happen. Think like a successful corporate athlete. What do I mean by this? Simply put, ask yourself who you would want on your basketball team taking the game-winning shot with two seconds left? Would you want a confident and relaxed teammate like Michael Jordan, or a stressed out teammate? The answer is obvious.

Let’s apply this in our business environment. You, as a manager, will perform better when you stay relaxed and confident. If you stress out, you lose your ideal performance state. There is also a residual effect that you have on your staff and your customers by staying calm and in control. They will admire your spiritual and emotional strength, and in turn they will feel that they can learn and perform better when around you. By becoming more tranquil, especially in times of personal or organizational stress, you increase your ability to lead effectively.

In summary, you can become a great manager by focusing on these five key ideas:

1. Build great teams – your success as a manger is determined by the success of your people.

2. Build your people through mentoring – great teams are comprised of people fulfilling their potential.

3. Accelerate change – sell change as a vehicle for growth.

4. Be the cause, not the effect – lead through credible motivation.

5. Be a successful corporate athlete – stay calm and think like a champion.


Maurice Gilbert is the founder and Managing Director of Conselium, a personalized executive search firm that specializes in placing executives in the areas of governance, risk, compliance and business ethics. Call 972-934-8444 or visit for more information regarding Conselium executive placement.

Maurice Gilbert, founder of Conselium

In addition to founding the executive search firm Conselium, Maurice is also author and presenter of dynamic and interactive seminars such as "Building Your Career - 5 Secrets of Success".
In addition to founding the executive search firm Conselium, Maurice is also author and presenter of dynamic and interactive seminars such as "Building Your Career - 5 Secrets of Success".


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