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    Leadership & Team Advisor

    Improving Leadership ROI through daily leadership and team development practices. Mark McCatty, Inc - Leadership & Team Advisor

    Getting Teams Moving

    I was called in to work with an existing team. This team was a highly-motivated team working in a manufacturing environment. The management structure wanted teams. Well, they wanted people to take accountability and manage the process. So, management supported the team effort. And the hourly employees were hired on with the expectation that they would be working in teams to manage their daily production [and related] activities. The problem was that…well, there was little observable productivity coming from these teams.

    John Maxwell, in his book on the laws of leadership, talks about the law of The Big Mo – Momentum is a leader’s best friend. All leaders will face a challenge when they try to start [or change] a process. No matter how much everyone wants to change, there are natural drivers against change. We are plagued with inertia.

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    The Human Cost of Lack of Engagement

    Studies tell us that fully 50% of employees today are not engaged at work. These employees do just enough to avoid discipline. And an additional 1 in 5 are so unengaged that they have become cynical and negative about their work. There is a significant cost to businesses with only around 1/3 of the employees engaged and motivated at work.

    Beyond the more obvious costs of lost production, lower quality, and dissatisfied customers there is also a human cost. There is a social impact from low engagement work environments that reach far beyond the balance sheet. There is a cost that can never be recovered.

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    Who is Affected by Today's Technologies

    By Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    I recently promoted last year's Live2Lead leader event in my home town. The Live2Lead event was viewed by thousands around the globe. Along with John C. Maxwell, Simon Sinek was one of the key presenters and he was highly appreciated for his presentation. Simon Sinek has been viewed by thousands talking about the challenge of technology for our younger generations. He talks about the addictive effect that using technology provides and how it destroys the ability to develop positive relationships.

    There is a lot of talk about the challenge that younger people face because of dealing with technology. Along with the talk of the problem younger folks have with their addition to technology is the [sometimes] disgust that is expressed with the impact this dependence on technology has on those who live and work with this younger generation.


    But let's be real about the issue with technology.

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    The Sound of Silence in a Culture

    by Mark McCatty, Mark McCatty, Inc. Leadership Results Through People

    Company culture represents the values that are elevated within the organization. It’s how things are done. A healthy culture is robust and full of ideas and exchanges. A healthy culture is a noisy place; Full of positive activity. This does not mean that everyone is always in agreement. It does mean that everyone knows full well where everyone else stands and that they respect the positions that others have taken even if that position differs from their own.


    The “happiest companies” [What Happy Companies Know] have warm corporate cultures, modest, sincere leaders and flexible, engaged employees. Positive companies have an invigorated company culture where there is an expectation and appreciation for true honesty. As Bill Gates says, “Bad news must travel fast.” Microsoft employees are encouraged to speak their minds even if they must deliver bad news.




    Culture Trumps Strategy

    The sound of silence can mean discord and disconnection. You know what it’s like when you walk into a room that immediately goes quiet. It is not a good sign when the breakroom buzz goes still when the manager enters. Therefore, many managers tend to shy away from employee meeting areas. They may say that they “want to give the employees their space.” This is the same management who believe that they cannot be friends with the staff; no fraternization.  They do not understand the leadership power of their ability to connect with other people.


    When there is no connection there is distrust and fear. An autocratic leader acts like they believe that they know best. This causes others to shy away from giving input. It causes cynicism and fear. I was working with a bank where such a condition existed. The staff was so fearful of management’s perceptions that they were not even comfortable giving hypothetical examples of poorly handled customer situations as training examples. They were so afraid that the leadership would misinterpret these examples as real and seek to find and punish the infractions. 

    Those That Know Need to Speak Up

    Over the years, I have surveyed thousands of managers and supervisors. I ask for their chief expectation for how their employees should interact with them. The top answers are:  don’t surprise me, tell me if there is a problem, don’t hide it; and be honest with me. Interestingly, these are the very results gained through a positive culture.


    Openness, lack of surprise, ability to resolve conflict, and productivity are all products that can be developed in a company culture. When companies follow the “Rule of 3” [The Orange Revolution] the outcome is a more productive and positive social environment.

    1.       Every individual adopts unforgettable, “world-class performance” as a model to create a “wow.”

    2.       Each team member keeps others apprised of current and upcoming activities so there are “no surprises.”

    3.       Team members praise each other’s success and “cheer” for each other.


    This “Rule of 3” environment generates greater levels of employee engagement.


    Leaders bring value when they help others add value. ~Mark McCatty

    Leadership’s Role in Creating Noise

    Top leaders and teams work to expand their competency by focusing their efforts on priorities as: “goal setting, communication, trust” and “accountability.” They readily recognize their colleagues when they do well. Research shows that when team leaders focus on the priorities and publicly acknowledge positive achievements, their teams have the best opportunity to excel.


    Confident leaders encourage respectful dissention, allow questions, learn [and help others learn] from set-backs, and they model desired behaviors.  To get employees on your side, be honest and transparent and let employees know what’s going on, good or bad. Show your trust by sharing insider knowledge. Withholding information can make folks suspicious of their leaders, and they feel less connected to the company.



    Accountability [employees’ acceptance of personal responsibility for meeting their work goals] is essential to cultural success. Increase your workers’ accountability by establishing clear expectations. Help them to succeed through there being the best at what matters most.  Keep them informed about company performance management standards. Establish systems to monitor employee progress against their goals and deadlines. Celebrate achievement whenever possible.


    No matter how accomplished or well compensated employees are, people need to feel appreciated. Show your employees that you recognize how hard and how well they work. Employees can feel more secure in their jobs and more passionate about their work when their leaders single them out for recognition. They become more productive when their colleagues are “empowered” to applaud their accomplishments.



    A positive culture can be challenging for many leaders. When you begin to engage, and empower employees they feel more comfortable to share all their ideas. Frankly, some managers just want employees to be quiet and do their job. In today’s world, we need positive cultures. This means good leaders leading good interactions and aligning people around common, purposeful jobs. Be that leader!


    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    Improving Leadership ROI


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    SCRUM Team Leaders Learn from Failure

    by Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor
    “To err is human.” The reality is that humans err. We all make mistakes. Some errors go by hardly noticed while other errors people make cause catastrophic consequences. So, the issue is not whether errors will occur; they will. The issue is what do we do with the tendency to make mistakes, and how do we benefit when they occur. There are some pretty interesting results from research about why we make these annoying errors. Some of the more commonly known causes of errors are:

    ·         Stress. Mental stress increases as familiarity the decreases. When under stress we tend to operate emotionally and not cognitively.

    ·         Fatigue. Fatigue is affected by on-the-job demands, and off-the-job life style. Trying to do complex tasks while recovering from a late night out can create errors.

    ·         Difficulty seeing one’s own error. We all think that what we do is good. People may fail to detect abnormalities when working closely to a task, especially when preoccupied. How many times has someone pointed out a needed edit [to a document] that you failed to see?

    Some of the more interesting ones are:

    Failure is not a permanent break. It's just a temporary bruise..jpg

    ·         Avoidance of mental strain. Seems we are all a little bit lazy. John Maxwell says that few people really think. Turns out, people tend to look for familiar patterns and apply the-way-we’ve-always-done-it solutions to problems. They may use short cuts because it’s easier and faster.

    ·         Limited working memory. The limitations of short term memory are at the root of forgetfulness. We are learning that we are not good at multi-tasking.

    ·         Limited attention resource. Attention is a limited commodity. Many times, we operate on auto-pilot. Our ability to concentrate depends greatly on the intrinsic value of the current object of attention.

    SCRUM project management is growing, yet it is mostly new for many project teams. If SCRUM leaders know that people will make mistakes, then they should be able to predict, mitigate, and learn from these events. Ah, that would take farsightedness and patience, though. True leaders have farsightedness; they see tomorrow’s possibilities in today’s reality. True leaders have patience; they see the potential in the erring human. Allowing people to make [and learn from their] mistakes is part of what increases competence, trust, and motivation in the performer. The wise leader manages the size of the mistake so that nothing catastrophic [damage to life, limb, asset, or customer] comes from the mistake.

    Boiling it down: Learning within the SCRUM organization requires an acknowledgement that errors will occur, and a process that enables everyone to learn from them. [Of course, this is different from willful violations and sabotage.] Leaders lead learning organizations that can allow the team the right to make mistakes, admit them, and share their learning with others. Or, the leaders can punish mistakes, and push them below the surface. Oh, the mistakes are still there, though. Errors still occur. Only in this instance, we find them when they are catastrophic.

    Many times, I am called to work with a project team that is suffering from a recent catastrophic failure [a failed project deliverable or significant customer problem]. The signs were there. Apparently, people did not want to look at them. Get your people and your team involved early. Make learning easy, acceptable, and profitable. Don’t be that project team! 

    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor


    Improving Leadership ROI – MMcOnlineTraining.com

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    Transformational Leadership in the USMC

    by, Mark McCatty, SAMC, SCT.

    Organizations exist and survive because of the good people within the organization. There are those in leadership who can create a vision and inspire, while others catch the vision and provide their part through person effort. But all involved are adding by using their strengths and willingly contributing their abilities to the vision.

    Every organizational leader desires to have a followership that is committed to, above all else, providing their unique set of strengths, and their discretionary effort to getting the job done. Having this type of followership does not guarantee that things will be easier, only that goals would be more fully realized through the committed effort of all those involved. Many hands make the load light.

    What I learned at Parris Island

    Earlier this year I had the opportunity to see behind the curtain of the USMC Boot Camp on PI. It was a rare opportunity to participate in an Educator’s Workshop on Parris Island. This experience gave me an insight into the leadership approach that is used to transform young recruits into committed, dedicated US Marines. What I experienced on PI [as a civilian] was an impactful leadership lesson.

    The Drill Instructors do their job well. They have a reputation for being hard, almost unbearable. And as part of my experience there I could get a very small taste of the way the DI’s welcomed recruits to their island. From the very first interaction, the DI’s create a very clear expectation for what the recruits will experience over their next 13 weeks. But it is their ongoing leadership and the personal connections that they develop that allow the DI to build a positive relationship with the young Marines. The Di’s consistently demonstrate their ability to be trusted and respected by their young protégés.

    In her book, “Presence,” Amy Cuddy says people quickly answer two questions when they first meet someone: “Can I trust this person?” And, “Can I respect this person?” Psychologists refer to these dimensions as warmth and competence respectively, and ideally you want to be perceived as having both. These positive perceptions are critical to being an influential leader. “If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative,” Cuddy says.

    “A warm, trustworthy person who is also strong elicits admiration, but only after you’ve established trust does your strength become a gift rather than a threat.” Amy Cuddy, Presence

    Let me just pause and say, “Happy Birthday USMC!”


    Transformational versus Transactional Leadership

    What I hear from today’s leaders is that they desire their staff, crew, or teams to demonstrate a sense of ownership and accountability for their own individual tasks and responsibilities. The result of this sense of ownership is the self-motivation and recognition is a willingness to take required actions without being prompted to do so.

    Transformational Leadership is required to accomplish this level of commitment. Wiki describes Transformational leadership as a style of leadership where the leader works with their employees to identify the needed change, creating a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executing the change in tandem with other committed members of the group.

    As opposed to transformational leader there is transactional leadership. Transactional leadership is more extrinsic and dependent upon incentives and punishments to induce action. Although transactional sounds efficient it does not deliver the long-term transformation and commitment required to sustain success.

    The 4 Attributes of Transformational Leadership

    There are 4 attributes that we find is effective leaders. They are:

    1. Inspire – ability to motivate and excite others to action
    2. Innovate – ability to think outside the box
    3. Collaborate – ability to work with others for the good of all
    4. Execute – ability to get things done while supporting core values

    Through these 4 attributes we see the leader serve as an ideal role model for followers. The leader “walks the talk,” and is admired and respected because of their consistent example. These leaders have a charisma about them. As such, they have the ability to inspire and motivate their followers. They show genuine concern for the needs and feelings of their followers. Their personal interest in each person, as an individual is a key element in bringing out the very best efforts. The leader elevates values, priorities, and cultural expectations of the organization. These values include collaboration and demonstrating respect for the ideas and contributions of others. The effective leader challenges followers to be innovative and creative. This enables the freedom to be inventive and experiment.

    A common misunderstanding is that transformational leaders are somehow “soft,” but the truth is that they are constantly challenging their followers to higher levels of performance. The Drill Instructors of Parris Island understand what it means to be rigorous in their expectations for the recruits. Yet, they can demonstrate an appreciation for the contributions of each member of their platoon. The DI’s realize, better than most that failure in action may result in a tragic and irreplaceable loss. Lives depend upon the ability of the DI to properly train and prepare their Marines for duty. They may begin the process as transactional leaders for training purposes, but they quickly develop a transformational style of leadership. It is this transformational style that induces commitment to a set of values [honor, courage, and commitment] that sustains the all-volunteer military. It is the graduates of PI and their commitment to these same values that make a significant contribution to our society.

    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor


    Improving Leadership ROI

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    The GIFTS of Great Leadership

    by Mark McCatty, of Mark McCatty, Inc. Mark is a Leadership & Team Advisor. Helping organizations get results through people.

    I have been asked to re-post this. It’s that time of year…

    At this time of year with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, our thoughts turn to gift giving. But, gifts aren’t just for family members.  Great leaders bring GIFTS to their organizations, too! A leader cares about the employees in his or her organization and recognizes their contribution.  As a result, the leader has a positive impact on the organization and its people. The GIFTS a great leader brings are:

    • Goals
    • Inspiration
    • Focus
    • Teamwork
    • Success

    Another GIFT great leaders can bring to their organization is their leadership style.

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    What Value Do You Bring?

    By Mark McCatty, SAMC, SCT

    I was humbled by a compliment I received when I was visiting a client’s office. When I walked in I was greeted by several of the team members. As I was leaving one of them said that they were glad I stopped by. They continued to explain that they feel a welcome calmness come over the office whenever I am there. It stopped me cold. Wow! That’s one of the best complements I have ever received.

    It reminded me of the book by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown, Multipliers; How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. [http://www.getabstract.com/ShowAbstract.do?dataId=13031.]  In the book they describe the two dominate types of leaders in organizations today; Diminishers & Multipliers. Diminishers sap people’s energy while leaders who act as Multipliers magnify and extend the results of those around them.

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    Managers, Let Your Team Work

    Time management or lack thereof, is a frequent complaint that many managers have of their team members. These managers frequently say things like “they don’t complete their work on time”, or “they always wait until it nearly becomes a crisis to get things finished”. The manager often throws around words like lazy and procrastinator when describing their people.

    What I find, in many cases, is not a situation where time is not well managed. Occasionally, I do see a case of deliberate procrastination or lazy work ethic. But this is the general exception and not the rule. Rather, most times I find that priorities are not clearly understood. In fact, many managers create ADT [Attention Deficient Trait] characteristics in the team members.

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    Quickest Rate of Change

    By, Mark McCatty

    There are two types of change that organizations deal with. The two types of change are planned change and emergent change. Planned change is top-down and mainly driven by management. While emergent change is bottom-up and comes mostly from employee levels.

    Planned change is compelled by a business need that the management structure observes. The desire of management is that those responsible for implementing the change will understand, accept, and be fully devoted to carry-out the change initiative.

    Emergent change is driven from lower in the organization. Emergent change, at this level, is driven by those lower in the organization while the change needs to be supported by those higher in the organization. Support from those at the top is needed because it’s those individuals that have the authority and capability to support the emergent change effort – or quickly kill it.

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    Goals for a Self-Organizing SCRUM Team

    By, Mark McCatty

    An important SCRUM principle is the principle of self-organizing team. As opposed to traditional command-and-control style of management, SCRUM utilizes teams more fully. SCRUM offers that today’s workers have much more to offer than just their technical expertise and that the team can deliver greater value when self-organized. By making these teams cross-functional they have the ability to handle all the work tasks within their areas of responsibility. By arranging the teams into self-organized units the teams have the ability to be flexible to respond to obstacles quickly.

    There are very measurable team characteristics for determining effectively self-organized teams. These characteristics are:

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    Improve Your Leadership ROI

    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    Leadership is influence.

    Leadership Return on Investment reflects the amount of value that a leader generates through their leadership efforts. Leaders are judged by the results they obtain. Leaders are influencers and have the power to generate change. The hard truth is that a manager who is unable to effectively create desired change improvements through the people in their area is judged to be an ineffective leader. Remember: that leadership results come through people.

    Creating change is always a challenge. People go through predictable stages when faced with the possibility of having to change. These cycles of change have been compared to the grieving cycles. When people are presented with the need to change, when the change is dictated to them, they will go through a stage of initially denying the need for the change. Then they may move to resisting the change.

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    Characteristics of Successful SCRUM Teams

    by Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    What makes SCRUM so effective as a project methodology is its team aspect. Projects fail, not for lack of process. Rather failure occurs in projects because of a disconnect in the social environment.There are specific characteristics that high performing SCRUM teams have in common.

    1. The team is cross-functional. Cross-functional teams are multi-disciplined. They can bring a holistic context to their effort. Sometimes this diversity creates slightly longer delivery times than the functional teams. But this loss of efficiency is covered by the significant increase in effectiveness. Cross-functional SCRUM teams deliver a better, higher quality end product.
    2. The team is empowered. The teams that are self-organized, self-managed, and properly directed are more engaged and productive. The good news is that team members are motivated and productive. The bad news [for some managers] is that these team members, because of their empowerment, feel a sense of ownership and motivation to contribute their ideas to other areas, too. Managers should welcome this involvement from their team members and focus their team’s motivation on areas that would benefit from their insight.
    3. This leads to the next characteristic, the team has a sense of purpose. Because of their autonomy and their diversity of membership these SCRUM teams feel a stronger sense of purpose. This purpose ignites their motivation. The properly structured and led SCRUM team perform and exceedingly high levels. They can initiate and implement changes that would be difficult for many organizations to acquire.

    The smart organizational leader will take the time to structure their SCRUM teams correctly, and provide the required support to nurture and sustain the team’s efforts. This investment in the team will deliver greater ROI results that will exceed the expectations of customers.

    Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor

    Improving Leadership ROI

    MMcOnlineTraining.com – Helping You Learn More

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    Good Conversations Lead to Trusted Relationships

    Leadership is influence. Leaders influence others to work together to accomplish shared goals. Effective communication is an operational means of influence. By sharing ideas, discussing concepts, and seeking common values to align around, leaders are able to utilize their influence to obtain mutually beneficial results.

    True leaders understand the value and influence that come from having strong connections to others through positive conversations. Good conversations lead to trusting relationships. Having a trusted relationship is critical to a leader’s ability to influence. Challenges that organizations face, and the obstacles to successful outcomes are frequently found – not in the technical environments – but in the social environments. The social environment is where the value of affirmative connections yields positive results.

    Conversations Create Connections

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    Practices of Authentic Leadership

    By, Mark McCatty, Leadership & Team Advisor with Mark McCatty, Inc. Authentic leadership describes the character and intentions of the leader. These traits compel the leader to work to remove obstacles – not impede progress – for those who trying to accomplish the vision. They engender feelings of comfort and competence from those that are lead. These leaders help others see what is possible.

    Leaders that lead intentionally and with authenticity have a sense of purpose that extends beyond their own person benefits. These leaders build positive relationships and connect with others. They lead from their heart and operate with the right motives. They have a clear understanding of their values and they discipline themselves to hold to these values.

    Sense of Purpose

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    A Leader's Role in a Healthy Organization

    As was stated in a previous post – An organization that sustains success is one that has 2 critical elements. The organization is smart and it is healthy.

    The leadership of an organization has four primary responsibilities regarding the development of organizational health; the ability of the organization to grow, and sustain that growth. Those four responsibilities for organizational leaders are: Inspire; Innovate; Collaborate; and Execute.

    It is not the leader’s role to fulfill each of these responsibilities personally. Rather, the leader must develop a climate that nurtures and encourages these characteristics in the culture of the organization.

    To inspire the leader must work to motivate and excite others to take action for common purpose, model positive leadership by treating others with respect, and by coaching and developing others. To innovate the leader must generate and support innovative ideas, encourages calculated risk-taking, and foster and encourage innovation. For collaboration a leader must act for the good of the organization, collaborate with others across the organization, and be a team player. To execute the leader must possess an orientation for results and promote the health of the organization.

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    SCRUM Can Get it Done

    What is the SCRUM Methodology?

    SCRUM is a popular agile methodology that helps organizations manage a project faster and more effectively. SCRUM is sometimes referred to as agile project management because it provides an adaptive, flexible framework designed to deliver working products in incremental steps throughout the project.

    The project is divided into a series of concentrated work cycles, called “sprints,” in which the project team works on a set of features from idea to implementation; these features are then integrated into the developing project.

    Why SCRUM Works

    Although SCRUM is often used to deliver software, the agile SCRUM framework is structured in such a way that it provides effective results within all projects and industries.

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    The Challenge for Change Remains the Same

    I was speaking with a group of non-profit leaders recently and we had a very interesting conversation about organizational change. From our discussions I learned that non-profit organizations have the very same struggles that other organizations have. These leaders shared some frustration with the fact that there is some hesitation to accept and adopt to change, even among those we would call engaged employees. This is the same frustrations I’ve heard for years  from leaders in manufacturing, financial institutions, and higher education/university work environments.

    There are two types of change that organizations deal with. The two types of change are planned change and emergent change. Planned change is top-down and mainly driven by management. While emergent change is bottom-up and comes mostly from employee levels.

    Planned change is compelled by a business need that the management structure observes. The management group decides that a change is required to support business values. These business values may be related to safety, productivity, customer satisfaction, quality, or budget/profit. The expectation is that the decided change must be implemented in order to achieve the desired positive outcome goals for the organization. The desire of management is that those responsible for implementing the change will understand, accept, and be fully devoted to carry-out the change initiative.

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    Health is Important to Culture

    Health is Important to Organizations, Too

    An organization that sustains success is one that has 2 critical elements. The organization is smart and it is healthy.

    To say an organization is smart refers to the competence in functional/technical areas.  The organization performs well strategically, financially, in marketing, and technology. To sustain the success an organization must also be healthy.

    Health [for an organization] refers to the ability of people within the organization to learn from each other, identify critical issues within the organization, assess risks appropriately, take initiative, and recover from past mistakes.

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    Effective Performance Management

    Some managers believe that they must be a ruthless manager. These ruthless managers operate with a theory X [Douglas McGregor] management philosophy. They use an extrinsic [carrot and sticks] approach to getting others to do their bidding. These ruthless managers believe that anything else would be wreckless; and would mean allowing employees to do whatever they want. This would result in failure.

    Allowing employees, who may not have the company’s best interest in mind; to do whatever they want would be wreckless. Even the best intentioned employees, who may not know what’s best for the company, can make poor choices if left on their own. Being wreckless also results in failure.

    That’s why the better choice for managers to use when leading others is rigorous. Rigorous involves having clear goals, objectives, and boundaries. And rigorous management ensures that these are all clearly and thoroughly communicated. Rigorous management allows for true commitment and knowledgeable empowerment from dedicated employees.

    Image result for keys to success

    Keys to Successful Performance Management

    Clarity: an important element is clarity. Managers need employees to be the best at what matters most. Employees need to understand exactly what is most important. Lack of clarity around goals/priorities and roles/responsibilities are common dysfunctions. Mixed messages around priorities is a common cause for failure.

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    As a leadership and team advisor, I have helped numerous organizations, through speaker presentations, group training, and individual coaching, to meet the challenge of creating engaging and purposeful work environments. 

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