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What do leaders do to create self-motivated high achievers?

When working with clients I find a common question they ask is “How can I motivate my staff? “

I recently read “The Best Damn Management Book Ever: 9 Keys to Creating Self-Motivated High Achievers” By Warren Greshes

Here’s the low down according to Warren – see what you think….

Why does having self-motivated high achievers matter? Because you need consistency in performance, and sustained passion in your workers for their work. This comes from you, however you can’t be the answer! You can’t be there all the time. You need to be able to generate a team who can manage themselves. If people work just as hard when you aren’t around then you are a great leader! If they don’t, then you need to look at what you do first!

Self-motivated people are the linchpin to any business. They offer great value. This is a trait that beats everything else, hands down. How do you tap into that attitude?

Greshes says that you need to understand what makes your people tick. You need to know your staff as individuals. It’s so tempting to treat everyone as a block. That’s not helpful! It’s almost worse than not knowing your clients well enough!

Greshes is sure that money is NOT a motivator. It just stops people hating what they do. He believes people are motivated by meaningful careers. What can you do to meet that need in your business?

Communicate great expectations! Expect the best and communicate this expertly and you will see results. 100% confidence at all times in your great staff (because you hired then) creates the right atmosphere for highly self-motivated high achievers. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Set high standards and allow for innovation - which is led by your team - for improvements. Innovation comes from creativity - crush that and crush your team’s attitude. Allow for a dialogue about the best way to do things. Use a systematic approach to things, but include review as part of the system.

Don’t creep up on people! Fear of failure is a huge obstacle to motivation. Learning happens best when we make mistakes! Allow for mistakes with a culture of learning from them and people will stop being afraid of failure and relish feedback.

Teach people to listen to you by making as much effort to feedback about great work as you do about rubbish work! It’s just as, if not more, important.

According to Greshes, most staff groups break down into three groups. 10% are superb, 10% are awful and 80% are average. He suggests not focusing on the top 10% as they don’t need you so much. They are already self-motivated. Manage the bottom 10% out. Quickly. They are a distraction and will most likely never change. Don’t make everyone else carry them. The middle 70% need you most. If you can impact on just 10% of these you will notice a massive difference. Mix them with your top 10%, use mentoring, the responsibility for the mentors will only add to their effectiveness and motivate them even more.

Allow small steps in improvements to take shape by offering more opportunities to 10% you choose from the average ones. Give them challenges and support them Bring them out of their comfort zone.

Step back and stop touching everything. Don’t be afraid to fire someone if needed.

Create a culture of internal customers. By this Greshes means that you need to ensure that everyone sees the importance of all the roles within the company, especially their own. They need to see that other members of staff need the same, if not even better, treatment than customers. This creates a great attitude.

Greshes provides a short insight into his book in this video link. 

I’m not sure I am 100% convinced that this book goes into enough specific detail but it certainly a good overview to give a potential leader a few insights. I’d be really pleased to hear from you about what you think if you have read it. Please get in touch.



How do leaders do a 1:1 meeting properly?

A 1:1 review system is a formal feedback opportunity to provide two way communication between and employee and his/her line manager. It’s all about the feedback!! Nothing is more important than feedback when managing performance.

These meetings are also a record of the fact that your staff’s performance is monitored.

Feedback happens all the time, informally (or should do!).

The purpose of a review is to discuss a person’s performance against the previous targets and standards and to set new targets. The discussion is recorded. Agreement is reached about what is recorded and targets set.

This is a huge part of being a manager and is part of the performance management process, which is designed to move the company forward towards its goals. Everything a person does in an organisation should directly or indirectly move the company towards the goals that have been set for the company.

What a 1:1 is NOT about

It is NOT an opportunity to save up any irrtitating moans about someone’s performance and to discuss their poor performance all in one go!

It is not a ‘chat’ It is a process.

Usually the process starts with setting goals /objectives with an employee which will be linked to the job description and the company plan. The idea is that when the objectives are achieved the company will be successful in reaching its bigger goals and the person will be happy in their work due to the shared experience of the success of the company and the future job security this brings. Sometimes the process is linked to pay rewards/enhancements and sometimes it can lead to promotion. That depends of the company and its circumstances.

It would be unwise to set objectives for a 6 or 12 month period and only check on progress at the end of that period!! This leaves little room for remedial action to take place!

A handy "How Guide" is attched below- feel free to use this to imporve your skills.

If you would like to really learn about how to lead and manage staff to create excellent results then click here:


Do Leaders Understand Profit?

Profit not as good as you’d expected?You are not alone if profit is a worry to you.  Do you really understand profit?

One of the darlings of the banking industry ( - and you don’t often hear people referring to banks as darlings!) -  the  Co-op - has struggled to make a profit after all if its difficulties recently, but there are glimmers of hope for them thankfully.  More about that here:

However it is often a shock to me when working with business owners and senior leaders that many people do not really understand profit.  Some smaller company owners mistake profit for cash and some bigger company leaders have never had chance to think about what profit actually is, or how to interpret the results they see.  (Actually, many business people just ignore their numbers entirely and wait until the end of the financial year and then dread going to see their accounts!) 

Anyway, the thing is, that having a good understanding of profit is a real boost for a leader and gives youmuch mroe cedibility. 

Please see the attached document as a handy guide to learn about profit if you have never been given the chance to examine what it means, or feel free to share it with your staff to help them get it too!

Until next time





What’s the secret to managing difficult people?

Managing difficult people is a common theme which comes up in my work training and coaching leaders.  The good news is that there are usually very few difficult people in an organisation - the trouble is they do tend to take up the majority of your time if you are not careful!  In fact, try this activity:

Take a piece of A4 paper and draw a line down the middle of it (portrait). At the top left of the page right the name of the person who you know adds most value to your organisation - there will be  a name that comes straight to you. Under that name, write the name of the next person who adds great value. Continue to make a list down the page of people in order of decreasing value until you get to those names that you heave a sigh of frustration and dread the thought of them!

Next, top left of the page, write the name of the person who is a real drain on your time.  Who is it that sucks you dry of time and you just can’t bear it? Carry on with this list in order of decreasing time spent with them.

What do you notice about the two lists?  Are they inversely proportional?  Is that the person who adds least value the one that sucks most of your time?  Is it that the person who adds most value who does not drain you of time?

In most organisations this is what they find.  Like a teacher in a classroom – 95% of their time gets absorbed with the one or two naughty, distracted pupils who are off task and they take all the teacher’s focus and energy.  

What should you do about this? What makes most sense?  To dwell on non- performers or to dwell where the value is added? 

The non- performers need to be managed effectively.  Here is a quick guide on what Ken Blanchard (of the “Leadership and the One Minute Manager series)

In a nut shell people fall into categories based on their competence levels and their commitment levels. How good their commitment and competence levels are described their development (D) level.  There are 4 development (D) levels.  For each development level there is an appropriate style of leadership (S).

Here’s the breakdown:

D1 = low competence and high commitment which requires a Directing Style (S1) of leadership (lots of structure, organisation, teaching and supervision)

D2= some / low competence and low commitment which requires a Coaching style (S2) of leadership (directing, supporting, asking questions, providing feedback, raising awareness and responsibility)

D3 = moderate to high competence and variable commitment requires a Supporting Style (S3) ( lots of praise, effective listening and facilitation)

D4 = high competence and high commitment requires a Delegating Style (D4) (handing over responsibility for day to day decision-making, checking in and recognising results)

In a busy organisation (and especially when staff turnover is high)  leaders sometimes forget to move through this layered system of leadership styles and opt for the one which suits themselves best!

Or they make assumptions about either competence or commitment. Have you checked with your difficult members of staff whether it is in fact a competence issues and not a commitment issue? If you have a difficult member of staff have you ever tried a different approach?  Have you ever examined what could be different about you? 

Very often we see in others what we need to learn about in ourselves.  If course I’m not saying that there are no awkward cusses out there who are bent on making their boss’s life hell!  However these people are few and far between.  Often what is needed with a difficult member of staff is a different approach. Once a competency issue is dealt with (either through training or investigation) then explore the commitment issue.  There is a range of styles available and without having skills in the full range it is easy to plump for what you know and what works with the majority of people.  A “one size fits all approach” won’t always cut the mustard.  Having a range to select from, so that the best style is used to get the best approach for the best result is more professional and is often what makes an outstanding leader what he or she is.  They have what it takes to mould their approach to meet the needs of the person with whom they are dealing at the time. High skills levels don’t grow on trees.  They are honed and mastered with experience and development. 

Taking time out to learn new skills to improve your effectiveness as  a leader is probably the single most impactful thing you can do you grow your organisation and take it to the next level of excellence. A small change in you could bring about a massive change in your staff. 

For more tips and resources on excellent leadership please check out my link:

And my You Tube Channel

Until next time. Rachel x


When do you need to be a ruthless leader?

When I’ve worked with some leadership teams the word ‘ruthless’ sometimes pops up.  Do you need to be ruthless as a leader? 

That depends on what that means.  It depends on where there is conflict. Dan Kennedy’s great book ‘No B.S Ruthless Management of People and Profits’ explains this really well. (Thanks to Nigel Botterill and the Entrepreneurs Circle’s excellent summary, parts of which I’d like to share.) It’s an interesting take on how to the manage people in your business. 

Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that the people working for them care as much as they do about their businesses.  The sad fact is that few rarely do.   Your employees have their own personal objectives, which may not sit comfortably with the ones you have for them to achieve.  There is potential for conflict here.   Your employees can view you as an obstacle to them getting on with their lives!

Kennedy touches on the sensitive issue where another potential conflict can arise – i.e. if you have ‘people pleasers’ working in your business.   He refers to the “Willy Loman Syndrome” whereby this ‘common disease amongst failing sales professionals’ causes them to have a powerful and overwhelming desire to be liked-over and above the desire to make sales. Kennedy says it is a contagious disease and many leaders catch it!

If leaders are also ‘approval seekers’ it makes a huge and dangerous difference to their effectiveness.   They can become paralysed with reasonableness – making them powerless to make a decision and often - worst of all - to become insincere as they switch allegiances to the most dominant person influencing them at the time.  (One particular guy comes to mind and most of the staff soon realised his vulnerability. They took to passing back up all unpleasant decisions to him, giving themselves a few more weeks before anything had to be solved. It was a massive time waster and caused everyone to lose the will to live when they needed an answer, but it helped divert the issue in the short term.) 

A great quote from Kennedy’s book “there is no evidence whatsoever that a manager who is liked by employees creates more profit for the company”. 

Do you need to be liked to be a great leader?  Kennedy obviously thinks not.

He predicts that Google’s ‘fun place to work’ reputation is a fad that will see its demise.  The fact that Google has extraordinary profit margins, with no costs of manufacture and a never ending stream of revenue, hides lots of dysfunctional behaviour, says Kennedy.  He sees the day coming that the ‘accumulated, out-of-control fat and waste and sloth’ will be slashed away by the ‘hatchet man’. 

To give you a flavour of Kennedy’s emphasis on managing people he asks the question “How will you quantify the profit produced by an employee?”

It’s a refreshingly frank view of the nitty gritty of enterprise.  I can’t say that I agree with all that is contained in the book but I can see the logic of looking at things this way.  My personal view is that everything comes back to values and vision in leadership with a hefty measure of proper feedback and follow up.

I’d love to know what you think. Do you feel you need to be ruthless as a leader? 

Check out my You Tube Channel to find out more about my views on leadership

Until next time! Rachel X