Leadership – 5th in A Series

Ed BurghardPractical Tips On Getting The Most Out Of People You Lead

Enabling people to achieve their maximum potential is both challenging and rewarding as a manager. But, it is an integral part of being a great leader. Development happens best when there is a genuine partnership between a leader and the person they are leading. It requires a level of trust where both parties know the other person “has their back”.

Clearly, it is not easy. And, there is no single way to effectively develop people. You need to find a way that work with your personal style. But there are some tips I can offer based on what I learned in my career that you might find helpful (or at least interesting).


This blog post is the 5th in a series on the subject of leadership.  The following links will take you to the other posts.

1st in a series

2nd in a series

3rd in a series

4th in a series

Leadership 5

Tips For Success

  • Invest time in creating a work relationship. It is important to get to know the people who are working with and for you. Share backgrounds, interests, and your core values. Find common ground to make a personal connection. Talk about your preferred way of working and communicating. Importantly, talk about how you will give feedback so the person is not surprised. To get the most out of somebody, you have to know them well enough to assess their true potential. Talk about what you like and dislike (what motivates or de-motivates you). It doesn’t mean you need to make the person your closest friend, but you do need to know them as a person.
  • Set clear performance expectations. You need to invest enough time when assigning a task to talk about what success looks like. Explain how completion of the task helps achieve the bigger organizational objectives. Ensure the person knows how his/her work fits in strategically. People want to make a personal difference, but it isn’t always clear how their role contributes to the bigger picture. If there are unwritten protocols, let the person know. Set measurable and time bound objectives so there is no surprise when you check-in on progress.
  • Don’t assume people understand. Create a relationship where it is okay to ask questions. Make time to be a sounding board for ideas. Coach on how to anticipate questions and/or problems so the information needed to resolve them is available. Emphasize the need for follow-through on commitments. Create a sense of urgency to ensure work gets done expeditiously. Take the time to review the status of projects weekly. You may be amazed how much you can accomplish over a cup of coffee.
  • Regularly provide direct and honest feedback. People need to know you care about their individual success. This is accomplished by having an honest discussion on how well the person is meeting your expectations. Many leaders gloss over in-process feedback and deliver a “judgment” during an annual performance review (if ever). You need to adopt the mentality that the person’s success is your success, and their failure is also your responsibility. Bad behaviors need to be addressed and corrected quickly before they become career-limiting habits.
  • Provide examples of what good looks like. Spend the time coaching to ensure quality of work and effectiveness of results. How a person achieves a goal is important. Encourage approaches that build a positive reputation for the person so people want to work with him/her. Don’t give the person answers, give him/her guidance. If a problem needs to be solved, teach the person how to solve it so the next time it can be done without your help. Teach skill development and problem solving methods.
  • Don’t confuse a person’s style with results. There are typically many ways to achieve an objective. Your way is not the only one, nor is it necessarily the best one. Keep your focus on the end result and allow the person as much latitude on the process as possible. Course correct only if you feel the path will not lead to success. As a leader, you need to be able to motivate and get the most of people who are different than you. Often, this requires you to step outside your comfort zone. View it as a personal growth opportunity and seize it enthusiastically. You will probably learn something.
  • Deliver the right level of coaching for the person’s experience. New people require more coaching than experienced people. The conversations you have with people will be impacted by how much they do or do not know. Be more directive with inexperienced people and give people with experience greater latitude to be innovative.
  • Encourage a reasonable work/life balance. Don’t encourage a 24×7 attitude in the people you lead. Make it okay to invest in interests outside of work. Lead by example. Studies show that people with a balanced life are happier and more productive. A little encouragement on your part will have a profound positive impact on the people you lead.
  • Use other resources to help the person develop. In addition to your 1:1 coaching, encourage people to leverage all resources (e.g. training sessions, reading books, online seminars, conversations with subject matter experts, etc.) that can help them be even more successful. Getting a well rounded look at a challenge helps deliver a more robust and sustainable solution. It takes a village to develop the next generation of leaders. Encourage the people you work with to be proactive in using the resources around them to be successful.


The above is not intended to be a comprehensive description of a leader. The list simply represents notes I took from a lecture or training course. But, I hope the concepts have the power to make you reflect on the subject, and maybe do a little introspection regarding your leadership mastery.

From the list, was there any thought that struck you as an “Ah Ha”? Did you disagree with any? Which thoughts in the above list do you feel are the most important?

Please leave a comment with your point-of-view.

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