What we can learn from the best — and worst — leaders


By Bob Paladino, CPA, CGMA

1. Develop a coaching, can-do demeanour.

The worst leaders point out problems without offering solutions. And they often withhold plans or prevent colleagues from contributing to the decision-making process. The best leaders:

  • Offer guidance to those tasked with achieving the goals.
  • Foster a can-win approach and find a way to correct, coach, and motivate when employees don’t meet expectations.
  • Praise and celebrate employee accomplishments.

2. Have self-confidence to empower others.

Weak managers blame the team for failures. They are less transparent when it comes to decisions or information vital to a team’s success. And they discourage others from taking risks. Strong managers:

  • Deliver a clear message with appropriate tools and accountability.
  • Delegate tasks that develop and stretch the team.
  • Train, coach, and provide feedback — regardless of how well a job is done.
  • Provide incentives for team members to understand the business as a whole.

3. Respect others and act with class.

Ineffective managers can be dismissive of others’ opinions or insensitive to professional issues. They have side conversations during meetings instead of listening to speakers. The best leaders:

  • Allow others to have different opinions without belittling them.
  • Respect individuals’ abilities and contributions to the business.
  • Listen, understand, and then speak.

4. Build diverse teams.

Ineffective managers limit feedback to small groups and fail to integrate new or different people. They forget to seek counsel or collaboration from team members on different continents. The best leaders:

  • Learn other functions in the company to gain a global perspective and break down silos.
  • Seek people with different backgrounds, experience, skills, and culture to improve a team’s abilities.
  • Create an open-information environment, looking for different points of view to help analyse scenarios.

5. Thrive on teamwork.

Leaders who have little reliance on the team can kill communication. They think about “me” rather than “we” and make important decisions without buy-in or understanding of those impacted. The best managers:

  • Forgo personal gain for the benefit of the team.
  • Help everyone understand the strategy, plan, and progress.
  • Identify and support the role of each team member, set goals and rewards, and strive to improve communication.

Bob Paladino (bobpaladino@paladinoassociates.com) is an adviser and trainer and author of three books on performance management.