It’s no secret that many people in management shouldn’t be there, but some are world class managers and build inspired, dynamic teams. So how can we all be in the latter category and become leaders that others follow because they want to and not because they have to?

When I was at business school, and even when I upgraded later in executive management studies, soft skills training was scarce. There has to be an easier and more effective way to acquire these essential soft skills other than through trial and error.

If you want to become a more effective leader, or you want to help someone who is struggling with management, here are some strategies that will help you and can be implemented immediately.

When you are an employee, it’s all about you – your performance, your development, learning and growing into a more valuable employee, delivering the results the company needs. When you go into management, it suddenly stops being all about you and becomes all about them – it’s all about your team.

In my corporate days, I was considered a high-performing sales rep. I was asked to teach others my systems and even wrote a national training manual for my programs, but initially I was held back from management for two reasons: 1) my company didn’t want to take their money maker out of the field and 2) there was a concern that I’d burn out the sales team by expecting them to perform just like me.

It’s a common problem, when top producers are promoted, they don’t always understand why everyone doesn’t work just like they do. This is an oil-and-water combination for most teams – teams need leadership and direction. We know that 80% of a company’s revenue is generated by 20% of their sales team and the majority of people are not naturally top producers. Therefore, they need different assistance which the top producer (now manager) never required to achieve their full potential.

Leadership is all about transitioning from being you-centered to being team-centered. When you’re in management you don’t excel because of your own abilities, you excel because of your team’s abilities and you are recognized for building great teams. When you’re used to having control of your outcomes and getting recognized for outstanding performance, it’s difficult to transition into coaching other people and doing what it takes to build and upgrade your team. Successfully making that transition will determine how far you go in a corporate world. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a little different for you because there is no ladder to climb, only the reality of maintaining your business – but it’s still vitally important to coach other people and have a great team of people who contribute to the success of your business.

If you are not investing in your internal team, then your team may not be at the skill level needed to bring in world class results. Remember: the bigger the goal, the better your team must be. Having an under-performing team will result in the lack of a succession plan and you’ll be forced to go out and buy your people. Why? You don’t have the skill within your own company because you didn’t invest in your people’s training and mentoring. This is the reason we have overblown salaries for the “top dogs” we bring in to get the job done.

When you recruit in a “top dog” you also run the risk of your new hire being headhunted out before you get the return on your investment. A prime example is any Fortune 100 company CEO who has a shockingly high salary and severance package. If the company had an internal succession plan in place, they would have had the control and would not have needed to buy a CEO at an outrageous price.

The job of a leader is not to sit in an office going through stacks of paper – it’s to do real things like picking the team who can win and helping them to win.

How do you identify who is the best leader? Find out why they want to work with your company (or why they want the job if they are internal) and why they are leaving their own business or position. They need to have a passion for working with you.

There are specific personality traits that make strong leaders: the ability to energize people, passion, compassion, determination and the ability to fully execute a plan. Don’t make the mistake of hiring a “nice” manager. Your manager needs to be respectful and inspiring, but they also need to be able to tell the team when they are not doing a good job.

Don’t wait until you have to let someone go after five years of non-performance. Sit down with them to discuss how and why they are not performing up to standard so you can both make a plan for improvement. In all likelihood, if you tell them and they are not willing to change, they will find a new job on their own and save you from having to let them go years down the road.

A strong manager needs to be able to have these discussions. As a leader, you have the obligation to let people know where they stand – what you like about what they are doing and where they can improve – not just once a year, but through continued open dialogue. Don’t forget to reward great people – not everyone, but those who are performing at an outstanding level. Recognition is extremely important. Recognize their achievements and have fun! If your boss isn’t giving you feedback on a regular basis, challenge them on it and find out where you can improve.

Don’t forget the impact of a big dose of positive energy. No one wants to be around someone who sees the glass half empty.

Great leaders come in different packages – one may be loud while another may be quiet, but the outward shell is not what matters. Always over-deliver in every way – it’s not simply about hitting your goals, it’s about over-delivering on your goals. Be staggeringly great at what you do and your audience will be compelled to work with you.

With a can-do attitude, over-delivering mentality and making your boss and your team look good, the results will come! Right now, we’re finding that a number of leaders are doing two things to move their teams forward: 1) They are in summer school with us, taking advantage of one-on-one strategy time and developing action plans and honing their skills. 2) We're having a lot of meetings with teams for training and development for Q4. If you want to further develop your leadership skills and cultivate superstar employees, contact us to learn more about our programs.

Author's Bio: 

Nancy Drew, founder of Drew and Associates International, is a real-world expert on dynamic sales with a passion for sharing her unique, proven methods for igniting business sales and success. Nancy's custom training programs, seminars and coaching help entrepreneurs around the globe grab hold of their business's full potential by giving them the tools for successful business setup as well as creating money and revenue generation. Contact her at or visit