"Frank's skill in asking the right questions is un-mistakable, and is at the core of his leadership philosophy.

The power of these questions cannot be underestimated, especially if you want to lead and not manage."
—John Cave
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Flashback: a warm summer night, almost twenty years ago.

My best friend—financial director of a European trust—and I were drinking coffee and philosophizing about business. At one point he makes a statement that changes the mood and makes me pause: “People are born either as managers or as worker bees.”


    Is my friend right? Do you really have to be born a manager, or leader? Is it true that some of those skills can never be learned?

“Management is nothing more than motivating other people.”
Lee Iacocca
“I can do that!” many will answer. “I can motivate others.” But how?

    In 2004 Henry Mintzberg famously asked for “managers, not MBAs” in his book of the same name. In May 2005 the Harvard Business Review published “How Business Schools Lost Their Way,” Warren Bennis’ and James O’Toole’s take on managers failing because of the theoretical-centered education provided by most top business schools.

    Is there really anything new? Can any management guru teach you something that hasn’t yet been discovered and put into practice?


    In fact, when you encounter “experts” who claim they’ve discovered something new, my advice is, run! The truth is that it’s all about existing knowledge presented in new ways. More than that, it’s about teaching knowledge in ways the student understands—and uses.

    Everyone who teaches—and managers should teach their employees—ought to be able to recognize quickly how well the student is taking in the material being taught, and how to adjust the flow of information to each student’s needs. Among the essential components for a successful teaching experience are high standards and expectations, ongoing feedback, and a dynamic that engages both teacher and student. The problem is that too often the process becomes the focus instead of the results. How often have you watched a film touted as an action movie and thought “Come on—where’s the action they promised?”
  1. In today’s fast-moving world, managers have to stay on top of the game constantly if they want to remain an asset to the company. Not only that, they have to learn how to use a wider and more complex array of tools. Having so many tools is actually an improvement; remember the old adage, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” But it’s up to the manager to choose the best tool to meet each specific situation.
  2. A successful manager will offer employees the support, encouragement, and resources necessary to get the job done. No true manager wants to be a puppet master. Support and encouragement are also important elements of implementing change. The successful manager understands that change works when the employees get positive reinforcement along with the proper tools.
  3. The manager’s primary duty is to strike a balance between the goals of the business and the expectations of the employees. We all know managers who only live on one side of the rope—hardliners who figuratively walk over bodies when it’s to their advantage, or sympathizers who listen to every side of an argument but who fail to set goals based on what they’re hearing. One-dimensional managers like these almost never win the confidence or respect of their employees.

    Manager or leader?

    There is a great difference between the ordinary manager and the leader. Managers usually live by the rules made by others. Leaders make the rules.

    Leaders will build up employees and help them grow, giving them real opportunities to one day become leaders themselves. They understand that those following them are not after their job. Leaders motivate, and they listen, so they know what their employees want and the tools they need to get the job done. Leaders also know how to balance between giving employees help and allowing them to make their own decisions.


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    In the fifth century B.C. the Greek philosopher Socrates perfected a method of teaching in which he would ask disarmingly simple questions that actually forced people to admit what they didn’t know. As you read this book, you’ll find a number of questions that follow the Socratic tradition. The reason? Today’s managers need more than the predefined answers we might think are correct, but which seldom fit the problem at hand.

    Stop Telling… Start Leading is a work book and should be used as such. It offers many open-ended questions to the manager, offering ways to determine why something has gone off-center. Because every manager is different—the result of education, cultural background, ethnicity, etc.—offering predefined “one size fits all” answers can’t do it any longer. Managers need to answer tough, pointed questions that will force them to come to terms with their goals. Once they do that, they can manage more effectively and more positively—which helps them and their team.

    Many management books are written with the manager as the sole reader in mind. This book will also help interested team members to better understand how and why their team works the way it does.

    It will be a useful tool for all managers who see the need to implement changes in their business. Don’t expect solutions or well-defined answers to every question here. Sometimes managers need to be able to refine their own solutions to find their way. Many of these questions will serve to guide managers toward that goal.

    Misplaced fear. Some managers fear that implementing any new management strategy will result in a team of matching personalities—all alike, with no dynamism. There’s no need to worry about that. To begin with, it shouldn’t be your goal to change the people you work with; rather, you want to help them implement changes that will motivate and encourage them.

    Remember that managers need to know not only that there are more tools than just one or two, but also where to find and how to use them. More than that, they need to understand that learning and teaching is always a two-way street. If you teach without learning you do not teach. If you learn without teaching you do not learn. Managers and employees have a responsibility to each other as well as to themselves.

“The people who get on in this world are the ones who get up and look for the circumstances they want and, if they can’t find them, make them.”
George Bernard Shaw


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This book is divided into seven steps:

Step 1: What Is Management?

Without the proper foundation, any building will be unable to stand solidly. Different existing definitions are introduced, including the classics from Maccoby, Myers Briggs and Keirsey, as well as some lesser-known ones.

Step 2: Know the Sins

As a manager you must be well aware of the shortfalls that can break your business: starting with the 13 most deadly sins like “Demand and Encourage,” “Ignore Standards,” “Tolerate Negligence” or “Let Everything Go Uncontrolled.” You’ll learn about a manager who punished underperforming employees with a whip.

Step 3: Take Responsibility

Managers need to understand that taking responsibility means standing up for their employees. But employees need to take responsibility as well. Responsibility is more than just focusing on making money. Companies that understand the importance of customers and employees and treat them accordingly, easily outperform those that don’t.1

Step 4: What Do You Pay?

A bonus is worth more than a thousand words. Bonuses don’t have to be cash, but they do have to be meaningful and appropriate to the job being rewarded. Think how the right bonuses could make employees more motivated and loyal.

Step 5: Make Your Team Work

Designing teams seems to be turning into a lost art. Most teams are thrown together too quickly. Just throw in a few folks with a “reputation” and the rest will work itself out-or will it? Can the underdogs outperform the stars? Shotgun teams-just like shotgun weddings, just as unhappy. Managers are proud of their accomplishments, but when things go awry do they take responsibility or blame the team?

Step 6: Change, Growth and Trust

During a speech at a Rotary Club a formerly silent member felt comfortable enough to speak up. What made him feel confident enough? Skilled managers can get the best out of their employees. Through good manners, understanding cultural differences and respecting personal space and keeping things organized (or not).

Step 7: Bring the Fun to Work

Having fun can’t be a requirement, but it’s a desired side effect. The fun has to be added to the work expertly or else the employees will see the fun as just more work. When managers can loosen up the staff, the workplace is more relaxed and productive. The more fun, the better employees work.

1 As described from John Cotter and James Heskett, Corporate Culture and Performance, Free Press 1992, in their research of more then two hundred big companies over an 11-year period.


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