The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them 1

“We are being judged  by a new yardstick: Not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other”. – Daniel Goleman – Working with Emotional Intelligence. 

We aren’t born knowing how to manage people effectively. (It’s a learned behaviour) We all start out making certain assumptions based on our own perceptions of what a manager should be. But our perceptions can be wrong. I hope you are able to learn from my sins. And trust me – in my 40 plus year career as an award-winning entrepreneur and general manager for one of  Canada’s best run and most profitable companies I’ve made my fair share. I’ve committed each one of these sins at one time or another. I’ve been there – done that – and have the t-shirt to prove it. I hope you gain some valuable insight into what it takes to be an effective 21st Century Manager.

  1. There is No Such Thing as Common Sense: Don’t rely on common sense as part of your training program. If you haven’t taught someone how to complete a task the way you want it done, then don’t assume they know how. Remember – Common sense is not common practice.
  2. You Can’t Motivate People: You can’t motivate people to do anything they don’t want to do. However, what you can do is create an environment in which they will want to motivate themselves. If you know what they want – and you have the power to grant it – you can use that understanding to get them to do what you want.
  3. You Ruin Good People by Promoting Them: Just because people are good at what they do – it doesn’t mean they will be good at doing something else. Not everyone has what it takes to manage others. Managers must be teachers first – technically competent second.
  4. You Don’t Have to Know Everything: It’s OK for managers to let their people know that they don’t have all the answers. What’s important is that they know where to go to find them. Always be honest and up-front with your people.
  5. You’re Not The Most Important Person in The Conversation: Communication is everything. If the other person doesn’t get the message the way you intended – then whatever you said – means absolutely nothing. Effective communication takes two.
  6. Park Your Ego at The Door; It’s Not About Being Right: You and I both know that there are a number of ways to accomplish the same task. The more that you allow your people to get involved in the process, the more likely it is that they’ll be interested in the results. It shouldn’t be just your way – solicit their input. Build collaborative teams.
  7. You Can’t Control Everything All of The Time: Your job as a manager is to teach someone else what you know. You can’t do that if you’re not sharing your responsibilities with the people around you. If you don’t delegate, you are robbing your people of their opportunity to grow. Resist the urge to micro-manage.
  8. You Can’t Demand Respect; Respect is Reciprocal: You’ve got to give it to get it. Gaining respect is a process. You must first build rapport, then develop a relationship – before you get mutual respect. People won’t trust anyone they don’t respect first.
  9. People Hear What They See, Not What You Say: You must lead by example. It’s not what you say that’s important. It’s how you go about doing it that matters most. If you look like a pro, and act like a pro, then people will perceive you to be a pro.
  10. There Aren’t Any Negatives; Everything is Positive: Your attitude is the only thing that you can control 100% of the time. Only you get to decide how you want to react to any given situation. React in a way that is going to get you what you want. People choose to follow winners not whiners. Always choose to be a winner.

To order your advanced copy of Brian’s book  – “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them” contact the Author – Brian Smith at or call 613-868-5698.

One comment

  1. Thanks Brian for your thoughts. I was a little taken back by number one: “There is no common sense,” because I do believe there is such a thing as common sense. But what I think I here you saying is that we shouldn’t trust that people will use common sense.. We should train them to make sure they use common sense. Kinda like the saying “trust but verify.”


Comments are closed.