By Colleen Kettenhofen

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”
Albert Schweitzer

  1. You set the standard: Work as hard, or harder, than your employees. Be a role model. Strive to know more than your best employee (or best sales rep) about your product line, industry, and their jobs. This doesn’t mean you have to know everything. Still, educate yourself. I frequently hear in my seminars, “My boss has no idea what I really do in my job. The challenges, the pressures I face, and the time constraints.”
  2. Be an effective communicator: Communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly at least weekly. In study after study, employees and business leaders overwhelmingly want a leader who is “straightforward.” I hear this over and over in my teambuilding seminars and workshops worldwide.
  3. Be authentic, be real: The #1 trait people want to see, to willingly follow their leader is…honesty. How can you expect them to look up to you if they don’t trust you?
  4. The top 5 things: Ask your people point blank, “What are the top 5 things I can do to help you succeed?” For example, if they are salespeople, what can you do to motivate them to be out in the field instead of in the office?
  5. MBWA: Management by walking around. Be accessible to them. Get in the trenches with your team. Nothing will gain respect for you more than that. This is another trait I consistently hear from my participants that they want to see in their leaders, their management team.
  6. Be willing to fight for them: But before that, set the standard so they know how far they can push something before they ask for it. And when is enough… enough
  7. Get the facts first, listen: Never question their integrity without first gathering all the data. Have an open mind. Let them tell their side of the story.

This leadership article represents the opinions of a large cross section of employees, most of whom are managers themselves. In presenting approximately 100 programs a year worldwide, these are the top 7 “common sense” traits I hear employees most want from their managers. I refer to them as common-sense as it seems most leaders would know how important these people skills are to possess. Yet, many in management have risen in the ranks due only to their “hard skills” or technical skills. Many managers are promoted to management positions without any formal training in the area of communication and managing people. As a result, they can be too overbearing, or just the opposite, non-confrontational.

If nothing else, develop your communication and conflict-resolution skills. It’ll save you money in the long run. As a manager, it’s imperative to know how to manage people. The courts are filled with hotheads, people who said the wrong thing at the wrong time. Or worse, said nothing at all, and enabled the behavior of a difficult employee until it reached a crisis point.

“Sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
Mark Twain

January 31, 2006

You are free to reprint or repost this article for use in your newsletters, association publications, or intranet provided Colleen Kettenhofen’s contact information (name, website, and email) is included with the article. Colleen Kettenhofen is a Phoenix, Arizona motivational speaker, trainer, & co-author of “The Masters of Success ,” featured on NBC’s Today Show, along with Ken Blanchard and Jack Canfield. For free articles, video clips, and e-newsletter, visit Colleen’s area of expertise are leadership, managing people, life balance, difficult people, presentation skills. Colleen is available for keynotes, breakout sessions and seminars.


She can be reached at contact information listed below:

Colleen Kettenhofen

(971) 212-0479


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