Out with the Old, in with the New!

How do you know as a manager that you have had a good year
How do you know as a manager that you have had a good year?

Here are the 5 things that will tell you.

1. You have less to do!
Most managers do not believe that their purpose in life is to make themselves redundant! In fact managers generally behave in a way that makes them essential to the business and create work. But if your responsibility is to develop the people who report to you, delegate tasks effectively, increase efficiency and eliminate waste then the logical outcome of great management is that you will have less and less to do. The key question is…… what you do with the time you have freed up?

2. You have dealt with a poor performer.
Sorry about this, but every team, group or organisation will have people who are not making a contribution. No matter how much we focus on positivity, develop high performers and build teams there is always someone to be dealt with. It is difficult and sometimes easier to ignore it. But in my view, confronting the issue always has a positive outcome even though there may be short term pain.

3. You find the business environment is simple, not complex.
Be concise, get to the point, and make it simple. Few people can deliver the simplicity that is the foundation of superb communication. Instead they mistakenly assume that the boss or their direct reports will be impressed by long presentations to show how much they know, or that they will win people over by talking more, not less. There is a lack of appreciation that in today’s world all information is available through the internet, knowledge is no longer power! It is your ability to synthesise, to connect the dots in new ways, to ask the simple smart questions that lead to untapped opportunities.

4. You realise that the right Attitude is the most important thing in an employee.
In recent study the Harvard Business School stated that 14{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} of the success of an employee is related to their technical ability, their skill or knowledge but that 86{aa1e4c34c9c0f46e0a1f04e30c2eb1b9efaea7a47ed6ca6f324476e114da37f4} of an employee’s success is due to their attitude, intention and sense of purpose.

5. And finally, you have performed well with your Key Performance Indicators.
This is obvious, I hear you say, except for the many people who have been too busy to develop KPI’s. Or maybe you have agreed them at the start of the year but you are not sure what they are now. Many companies lack the discipline to agree meaningful performance indicators and regularly review progress. This discipline is fundamental to avoiding the “busy fool” behaviour which is all too common in business today. If we take the points 1 to 4 above seriously then we will avoid the “busy fool” syndrome.

Don’t worry, in a few weeks you get the chance to start again. Happy New Year!

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Team Leaders Should Always Be Improving

Team leaders should always be improving


John Raftery explains why team leaders should always be improving in order to keep staff engaged across the whole organisation and develop a successful company culture. Leaders need to create the right environment where employees at every level strive to maintain high standards and help them to reach and exceed company goals and objectives.

Effective team leaders build confidence in other people

In terms of interpersonal skills and the relationship between senior managers and the people who report to them, it’s very important to strike the right note with the people who are reporting to you. You need to encourage them and develop them, and get them to work with you. On a surface level your personal appearance and body language is very important. Body language is one of the key factors in creating confidence in other people and in yourself. It’s about sitting up straight, standing straight, looking people in the eye, having a firm handshake. All of these things are important in terms of body language, because you are sending out signals to people all the time. People pick up on these signals very quickly; it becomes a hidden dialogue between people.

Leaders behaviour dictates company culture

If you’re showing any kind of frustration, anxiety or impatience, people will pick up on it even if you’re trying to cover it up. If you’re showing any doubt or uncertainty or if you are slow to make decisions, all of these things create an atmosphere around you and this can permeate throughout the organisation. What I’ve learned above all else is that the behaviour of the leader of any organisation dictates the culture of the organisation. While personal appearance and body language are very important, ultimately the most important thing is the behaviour of the senior people in the organisation; their behaviour dictates everything else.

Empathy is one of the key skills of influential people

One of the key things you try to develop in working with senior executives in a coaching programme is trying to get them to develop empathy. Empathy is one of the key skills of influential people and a vital component of leadership. Empathy is being able to see things from another person’s viewpoint, to put yourself in their shoes so that you can try to understand them better, and be able to influence them more. Where you show high levels of empathy people will be drawn towards you. You will begin to understand people better and you can even start coaching them yourself. Ultimately executive coaching is about trying to bring the best out of people. It’s about winning people over and getting them to perform at their best because they want to perform at their best.

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 Why do an executive coaching programme?

To a large extent we live in our own heads to a large extent. We find it difficult sometimes to step outside of ourselves to see how we behave, to understand ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses a little better. You need that external viewpoint, you need somebody who can hold up a mirror to you and give you a clear picture of who you are and how you behave. To help you discover what is working and what isn’t working , and be able to discuss these things in a confidential and safe environment. A good executive coach will really challenge you and your behaviour. If you can become more aware of your behaviour and if you can control your behaviour better, this will affect the behaviour within the organisation. The organisation itself then becomes more controlled and aligned with the goals you want to achieve.

Setting standards across the whole organisation

One of the most common problems for managers is accepting shoddy work from staff. Employees come to them with information that’s half-baked or incomplete, or in a format that is unclear and some managers accept that. These managers often end up sitting down and trying to make sense of the information themselves. What they should be doing is sending these employees back out of the room, and telling them to come back when they have all the information clearly presented in the format you require.

Team leaders should always be improving

It’s about setting standards, that’s the important thing. We often get used to doing things a certain way over a long period of time. Sometimes we are just not aware that we are accepting mediocrity, we start to believe that what we do is ‘good enough.’ But if we personally raise our own standards then we will challenge other people who work for us to raise their standards too. That’s the key thing that you as a business owner, or as a team leader, should always be trying to achieve; raising the standards of the whole organisation.

Interview by Des Kirby


John RafteryJohn Raftery is Executive Coach and Senior Partner at LEAP.

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To Be A Great Leader You Need To Get The Balance Right

To be a great leader

Business leaders often have boundless energy and enthusiasm that reflects their role as entrepreneurs. However some leaders, and senior managers, have a habit of moving forward too fast and end up leaving their management teams behind. To be a great leader you need to get the balance right between your desire for success and your team’s need for a clear system of communication. John Raftery explains why self-awareness is a vital factor in this process.

John what are the most common problems you encounter with management teams?

The big difficulty managers have is a lack of self-awareness. The more self-aware they are the more they can control their environment. There’s a phrase that goes “what I’m aware of I can control, what I’m unaware of controls me.” The biggest fault I find with entrepreneurs or senior executives is that they move too fast, way ahead of everyone else. They are hungry to achieve more and they see further ahead than everyone else in the organisation.

But the people around them may not be able to see that far ahead and so frustration often builds up. Where you have frustration you can get continuously changing priorities and then confusion, and people start getting get angry or impatient. Short tempers and moodiness can start to surface in the organisation purely because the business owner or senior manager is forging ahead quicker than the team can handle.

This frustration is due to a lack of self-awareness?

Well they may be aware of what they’re doing, but their desire to succeed can be greater than their ability to control what’s going on around them. The team may get left behind. It’s difficult for some to get the balance right. It requires systems and processes in place to overcome a lot of that. Like proper communication systems, clarity regarding expectations, measurement of results, milestones to be reached by certain times, clear time management schedules – they all help to overcome these issues.

To be a great leader you need to get the balance right

‘Communication must be clear and consistent’

Communication is important but the communication must be clear and consistent. Some people confuse communication with engagement. There can be lots of team meetings where people feel obliged to contribute by constantly changing priorities, targets or schedules, but this more often results in confusion. Outwardly it appears to be a system of regular communication, but it’s more a system of constant confusion. Team leaders need to distil the information down to a clear message and format, and be consistent with it.

The ‘No Frills’ Approach

Take Ryanair for example. Regardless of how you feel about Ryanair they are a great example of what I’m talking about. They successfully distilled their entire philosophy down to just two words – ‘no frills.’ Both their customers and Ryanair staff understood that simple message, and that’s what the organisation stood for. Everything they did was about reducing bureaucracy and costs, and keeping things as simple as possible.

Recently that ‘no frills’ philosophy has changed again. Now it’s three words instead of two; the ‘always getting better’ programme. Now they’re making people aware that they are trying to improve customer service, and it seems to be working as passenger numbers are increasing. Running an airline can’t be easy, it’s a complex business. But Michael O’Leary keeps the business model simple, he keeps the message simple so everyone knows what they have to achieve. That’s your challenge as a manager.


Interview by Des Kirby.

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