Leading The Way

Leading the Way

By Dave Baragrey


Attitudes toward managers seem to fall in one of two categories. The staff either hates the manager or would follow them into battle on any front. The leadership characteristics the manager shows seems to be what determines the difference between the two attitudes?


In every part of our society we hear what people think of their boss. This is a critical relationship for most people. It determines the work attitude of the staff both inside and outside of the office.


The staff member that hates the manager always complains about their job. Criticizing the business and management, giving the impression that their place of employment is the last place anyone should work. Managers that treat their staff with little respect, placing themselves a level above the people they supervise, usually results in developing a critical attitude in their staff.


So what makes the difference between hating your manager and loving your manager...Leadership.


Great leaders typically show five characteristics that endear them to their staff.


Be Bold – Set your targets with confidence. Develop good plans that are challenging but achievable. Most people on your staff want to accomplish great things. They love to be a part of something significant. Set your sights on lofty goals and lead your staff with confidence. Wimpy goals show you lack confidence in their ability to carry out the plan. Of course, setting goals too lofty is disappointing when they are out of reach.


· Good Example – After conducting a market study you find your paper is fourth in market share of media in your area. You share this information with your sales staff and together decide what accounts to target as key prospects for the coming year. You assign those accounts to various staff members and begin helping them develop a plan of attack to obtain more of their advertising budget.


· Bad Example – After falling short of your budgeted sales target this year you set a target of a 1% increase and hope for the best. Setting any target without changing the way you did business this year is just hoping, not planning.


Be Compassionate – Show that you care about the people that you work with. Be understanding of their lives outside of the office. Attend weddings and funerals of family members. Allow them time to attend their children’s school Christmas play. If you notice that something is bothering them, take the time to find out what it is and if you can help.


· Good Example – Whether I was invited or not, I always purchased gifts weddings of staff or members of their family who were getting married. If I was invited, I always attended the wedding ceremony or reception.


· Bad Example – The third grade son of a staff member has his school Christmas play on a Friday afternoon (your busiest deadline day). You tell them they can’t attend because we are too busy at the office.


Act with Integrity – You lead by example. Everything you do is magnified, whether it is a good example or a bad example. Never lie or exaggerate to a customer or your staff. Inappropriate language is always offensive. Bad habits are often exaggerated. I always smile when I hear someone say they “Don’t drink, smoke or chew or go with women that do.” But it is not bad advice.


· Good Example – A staff member offers to buy you a drink at the chamber’s Business After Hours event. Even though it is 7 PM, you thank them for the offer but refuse the drink because you are representing your paper at this event.


· Bad Example – We always put up this scrawny, artificial tree in our front office for Christmas. It looked fine once the decorations were on the tree, but without them it looked awful. I asked the front office staff to put up the tree and decorate it one morning. They began the process but got delayed when the phones began to ring. Late that afternoon, I walked by the front office and told them to finish the project or take the damn tree down. The next day, one of our front office staff quit stating she couldn’t work under those conditions. I was out of line and it cost us a good staff member.


Set the Pace – Your work habits are scrutinized by everyone in the building. Be the first one to work and the last one to leave. Make the most of your workday. Limit (or eliminate) personal phone calls and e-mails, regular work breaks and non-productive time. You must make every minute count.


· Good Example – Always take your lunch break between noon and 1 PM. Make it no longer than 45 minutes. When someone calls for you at 1:15 PM, it appears you are taking a long lunch regardless of the time you left the office.


· Bad Example – I employed a Sales Manager who wound down at the end of her day by playing solitaire on her computer. I’m sure she spent 15 minutes or less doing this, but it left the impression that she played computer games all day long. Consequently, she lost the respect of her sales staff and other staff in the building.



Share the Vision – It is impossible for your staff to travel down the same road if they don’t know what direction to go. Share the long term and short-term goals of the business with your staff. Include them in planning. If they are going to be the ones to carry out the plan, they will work harder to accomplish it if they had a part in designing the plan.


· Good Example – Each year we would sit down with each display salesperson and have them identify the competition’s largest advertisers. Upon completion of the list, our sales managers would spend time with the salesperson and design a plan of how to obtain this key prospect. The plan included where they were currently advertising, who the media buyer was, their personality type and how to deal with them, their market area, what they were looking for from print advertising along with a time frame for completing each task.


· Bad Example – The corporate COO determines changes for the coming year without considering local input about strengths and weaknesses within the local market. His/her plan is based solely on a financial statement without getting the local staff and management involved in developing the plan. If you have no involvement in the plan it is not your plan, it is his/her plan...of course, this never happens though.



Here is a quote to remember:

“Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest.”

Mark Twain


Dave Baragrey is a business consultant and sales trainer for Publishers-Edge, a Special Section syndicate for print and on-line special sections, and Consulting business specifically designed to help newspapers and shopping guides.

Websites – www.Publishers-Edge.com, www.Coupon-America.NET and


E-mail dbaragrey@Publishers-Edge.com

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