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Throughout the 40 years I worked in the private sector and the past six years I’ve been working as a full-time managerial coach, I’ve engaged with very few “natural managers.”

By “natural” I mean men and women who seem to effortlessly get the best out of their employees; these are managers who can tap into their reports’ inherent work ethic in order to encourage them to do their best.

In my experience, when it comes to getting work done through other people — whether those people are direct reports or are aligned with the need to complete the task at hand but are not in their direct reporting line — many managers just don’t know how to start. Those who do often figure it out through a painstaking process of trial and error (and sometimes take years to get it right).

So, how do you improve?

Trial and error is an inefficient way to learn to be a complete manager, or someone who is both substantively and behaviorally competent. I’ve observed it is the behavior component of management that is almost always lacking in mediocre managers.

Just what is the behavioral component? It is managers’ ability to know themselves and to accurately understand what motivates their fellow employees. It starts with two concepts…[Read more on]