A Toxic Lie Being Spread At Your Company: To Be a Manager is Bad – To Be a Leader is Good

VL_Facts_mythsRecently I noticed a post saying similar to this: “Managers make themselves feel important and leaders make people feel important.” There are many messages similar to this one floating around all over social media. Do you agree? It is tempting to want to believe it at face value. However, when you give it some thought, you may realize this is not only a lie, it is toxic and dangerous thinking.

In my book Viral Leadership, I make it a point to call out and confront these misleading and toxic messages. I say these messages are misleading because they are comparing bad managerial behaviors and attitudes with the behaviors of great leaders – not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison.

The fact is that there are great managers and there are horrible managers, just as there are great leaders and bad ones too. After all, Hitler was a leader. So was Osama Bin Laden. Should we start bashing the concept of leadership based on their example? If we are going to make comparisons, let’s at least be fair about it.

But before we even start making comparisons, let’s be clear about one thing. Management and leadership are two sides of the same coin. To be a great leader, you must also be a great manager. What good is a leader that does not respect a budget or deadlines? On the other side of the coin, we observe that to be a great manager you must also show great leadership skills. Managers who can’t inspire their teams won’t get far.

So why do we feel the need to give the word “manager” a bad reputation? To make ourselves feel good when we say we rather be leaders? Imagine the damage this message causes to the image of thousands of great managers who are out there doing a fantastic job with their teams.

For this reason, I say this ridiculous comparison between the concepts of management and leadership is toxic and needs to stop. Instead, give your good managers and leaders the respect they deserve, and build up the skills of those who need improvement. And most importantly, teach them to be viral. Teach them to pass on these great skills to the rest of their teams, and build up a viral chain of performance improvement.

I also encourage you to share your stories of managers and leaders, good or bad, who may have left an impression on you and shaped you into the professional you are today. Enter your story and you’ll earn a chance to win a Free Webinar (up to 50 participants) for your team. To enter, FOLLOW THIS LINK.

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About Learning4Managers

Are your goals right for you?

Do you have personal and professional goals? Are you on track to meet them? How do you know?
Ask the average person if they have set goals for themselves. Many will say they have. But when you ask them to describe their goals in detail, most people either hesitate describe a hope or a dream they have for their future instead of an actual goal. This is why we spend a significant amount of time training leaders about goal setting.

First, let’s be clear about what a goal is. The easiest way to know if your goal is a true goal is to test it using the S.M.A.R.T. Goal model. Is your goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely?

Let’s look at an example. Nora is a busy professional and she wants to optimize her day. However, her goal is stated as a wish: “I’d like to have more time.” Because this wish does not meet the S.M.A.R.T. criteria, it isn’t likely Nora will achieve her desired goal.

Let’s take that wish and turn it into a S.M.A.R.T. goal: “I will free one extra hour a day next week by creating a time log to track my activities at my desk and at meetings in order to identify which time-wasters I can eliminate each day.”

Here is a challenge for you: Set a S.M.A.R.T. goal today! Prepare a personal and a professional goal for yourself by the end of the day.

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Be Careful What You Ask For

Many managers struggle with employee performance. It is evident when you look at job description that often list “self-starter people” or “independent thinker” and other similar statements as highly desired characteristics.

The fact is that at work you’ll find different kinds of individuals

  • Those who need prompts to do their job
  • Those who are self-motivated
    • to perform their job functions
    • to look for additional duties beyond their own

Leaders hope for the last type listed here to work for them because they believe that these individuals will work with as little supervision as possible. And how could this be a bad thing after all? They also hope to avoid those who appear to need direction because they appear to be the least motivated individuals in the group.

The issues leaders face with highly motivated people are not as obvious as those you’d expect from low-motivated individuals.  It begins when these highly independent and self-motivated people start diverting their attention to extracurricular work activities that are not aligned with the corporate objectives.

High energy and motivation can be an asset, but only when it is pointed in the right direction. Don’t assume just because someone shows initiative that that they will know what they are supposed to do or what their boundaries are.

Always set clear expectations with individuals and discuss clearly what the boundaries are, both in terms of minimum expectations as well as how far their independence can reach.

To discuss how you can get access to training about alignment and how to maximize the potential of highly motivated employees Contact Us Today.

TRAINING GREAT MANAGERS – PART 3

What can we do to prevent resignations?

In the first to portions of this report we learned that around 2.5 million workers in the USA quit their jobs voluntarily each year. In the second portion we also learned some of the main motivators why people may decide to leave and why they may decide to stay.

Before we start taking action based on this information, we need to decide if we even want to do anything about it. Some of you may feel like this is simply part of the cost of doing business, while others may think this will never happen to them.

In the first article in this series we learned that there is a real economic impact to losing an employee. Each person that quits can cost the company between $22,297 and $222,975 depending on salary and expertise of the individual. But the cost of resignations goes beyond simply dollars and cents.

What makes things worse for all of us is a discovery made by Right Management in a 2011 survey. The results revealed that three out of four organizations lost people they hoped to keep that year. It is one thing to lose any employee. It is another to lose someone you wanted to keep.

If these numbers are reason enough for you to decide to make an effort to keep valuable employees with you, then we need to discuss what we can do to maximize our retention rates and minimize these high quit rates.

First, we need to recognize that all of the reasons for leaving mentioned in the many different surveys are all matters that we can control or influence. The problem is that companies seldom take a proactive approach to addressing these matters. It simply isn’t in their culture to do so.

If the company promotes ongoing management training and coaching, and this training teaches managers to listen to their employees for specific cues, then they will be able to pick up on signs and triggers they can act upon to keep top talent from quitting.  Let’s take a look at the different issues to watch for and address.

The top issue to discuss is the desire to become your own boss and own your own company. Managers need to pay attention to these aspirations and take them seriously. Once we learn that someone working for you has aspirations of this kind, we can take steps to keep them engaged with us.

While many people may have fallen in love with the idea of being a boss and to own a business, they may know little about the responsibilities and effort it takes. Defining the role of a boss or owner and discussing the skills necessary for the role may help the person have a more realistic view of what that means.

More importantly, identifying why people want to be their own boss may lead to a set of underlying needs that could be met in alternative ways. Specifically, many of these individuals are simply asking for more meaning in their jobs and more autonomy.  A well-trained manager with advanced communication skills will be able to identify these underlying reasons, and build a career path for the individual that allows them to earn their way into independence and autonomy at work.

Next comes the issue of compensation. As many of us have learned with experience, throwing money at problems is seldom the most effective strategy. First let’s keep in mind that, at least in the published surveys, this is an issue of bigger importance for men than for women.

Is there anything we can do other than to offer a raise or a promotion to somebody to keep them with us? Managers need to remember the top reasons why people choose not to leave: the relationship with their peers and their managers. We may not always be able to simply offer more money to staff, but we can minimize the desire for more of money by improving the relationship with the employee.

Finally we need to address work-life balance. This issue too can be addressed if a manager takes the time to build a relationship with the employee and works on a plan to help with the employee’s needs. A simple change to a more flexible schedule might be all it takes to keep an employee with us for years to come.

We should work under the assumption that our top staff are being actively approached by recruiters ready to make a better offer in pay and benefits. Other offers may include the promise of upward mobility.

The best way to prevent finding a resignation letter on our desk is to get to know our staff better, build a closer (but professional) relationship with them, and help them see the value of working with a strong team. The better they feel about their relationship with their peers and managers, the harder it will be for them to want to leave.

What does this all mean? It means we need to ensure managers are continuously improving their communication and relationship building skills. From a strategic point of view, the investment we make on developing these managerial skills is well worth preventing high quit rates.

Training Great Managers – Part 1

The Economic Impact

As of August of 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that approximately 2.5 million people in the USA quit their jobs voluntarily in the last 12 months. The good news is that this number has been steady for quite some time and remains below pre-recession years. However, it is still a very large number of people.

Consider the cost to the employer to replace each one of these employees. The US Census states that “In 2013, the median earnings of women who worked full time, year-round ($39,157) was 78 percent of that for men working full time, year-round ($50,033).”  Some people estimate that an employer may need to invest between half and up to five times the employees annual salary to replace them.

Under these circumstances, if an employee earns $44,595 a year (the average between the median earnings of men and women according to the Census), then an employer would need to spend between $22,297 and $222,975 to replace that employee. Multiply that by 2.5 million and you can quickly see the real cost to our economy.

The questions we need to address are a) why do these people quit? And b) what can we do to keep them from quitting?

In the next section of this report we’ll explore the reasons why people quit and the expectations these people have. In the last section of the report we’ll explore if it is even worth trying to retain these individuals and how to do so effectively.

Don’t forget to enroll in our October 22 Productivity Strategies Webinar.

A note about self motivation

I am convinced that people have immeasurable potential. I also believe that some people’s potential is suppressed by factors like fear, procrastination, etc. These suppressors have a dual impact. First, they keep individuals and teams from excelling at what they do. Second, suppressors keep people from going beyond what they think they can achieve, and this keeps them from realizing their true potential. Each person would do well to take a look at themselves beyond what they are able to achieve now. Each individual should take aim at what they can achieve based on their potential and pursue it with fanatical determination.
From Leadership: A Moving Target by Jorge Acuna

Valor Latino Interviews Learning4Managers

Perfecto Rivera, host of ValorLatino on WISN 1130 interviews guest speaker Jorge Acuna, president of Learning4Managers.com.

Listen to the second part of the interview here:

Effective Time Management & Your Online Presence

To manage a business effectively, today’s world demands having an online presence. That means having a Web site, using email for communications and marketing, and networking via social media. Here is the catch. Have you noticed how easily some people can spend hours on emails or on social media sites like Facebook? To manage your online presence online effectively it takes planning and discipline. Here is a tool that might help you plan and manage your time online better: the 30-30-30-10 online presence management model.
First, decide how much time per day or week you are willing to dedicate to your business’ online presence. Then distribute that time into four areas as follows:

Spend 30 percent of your time online focusing on business and logistics. This is the time you devote to fixing a graphic on your Web site, writing your next email campaign ad, or adding a blog about a relevant topic and sharing it on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The next 30 percent should be spent communicating directly with prospects and customers. This is when you post your “likes” and comments on prospects and customers. This engages them online.

Another 30 percent is used for networking to continue building your relationships with colleagues, peers, or employees if you have them. This is your opportunity to see what others are doing well and to coach others.

Finally spend the last 10 percent of your allocated time to planning for the future and tweaking your strategies.


This simple 30-30-30-10 model will allow you to maintain and grow your online presence at a steady rate. You may certainly adapt to changes in circumstances. The important part is to have a plan and the discipline to follow it.

30 30 30 10

Three lessons learned from the conference

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 This past weekend Jorge Acuna, president of Learning4Managers, presented for an audience of 6,000 business owners and professionals in The Orleans Hotel Arena in Las Vegas. Here are the top three lessons learned from discussions with participants after the event.

Show your passion

Passion is contagious, and when you want others to believe in your product or service, your passion will be the most important factor in making a decision.

Never stop learning

There are learning opportunities all around us all the time. Becoming an expert does not mean that you stopped learning about a topic. On the contrary, it means that you continue to learn about it.

Everyone has a story

Every individual you get in touch with is like a brand new book. Learn to appreciate their story, and you’ll watch them open up more and more.