A Practical Guide To
Leadership and Management

This web site is a free, practical, resource to help leaders and managers grow their knowledge and skills.

Who will find this site helpful?

My personal experience is that of starting companies and growing them to 100+ employees, being Managing Director of companies with up to 450 employees and consulting into organisations of 2000+ employees. I will only write about what I have had personal experience of, therefore this site is aimed at managers, middle managers and small to medium sized business owners.

It is full of practical, hands on information for managers or entrepreneurs who are at the coal face, managing front line staff or managing managers who deal with front line staff, it is based on actual experience learned through trial and error and a lot of self learning. Throughout the site you will see:

On a personal note: Where I will relate my personal experience of a situation, invariably this is me showing where I went wrong and the lesson learned!

For me Business = People and the role of leaders and managers is to create an environment where people can learn and grow and want to put their maximum effort into their work. The challenge is closing the gap between people putting in the bare minimum needed to collect a pay check and doing the best they can possibly do. The gap between these two positions is massive and is the difference between an outstanding organisation and one that is mediocre.

On a personal note: When I look back on my business career one mistake I made keeps rising to the surface of my mind to be one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. I was running my own business that used a lot of casual (part time) drivers, mainly students. I had a very strict policy about drivers not turning up for work, if they did not have a valid reason and give us adequate notice it was one strike and they were out. The business was my life and my attitude was if drivers were willing to compromise my service and my livelihood by not turning up I didn't want them there. One of my best drivers, a fellow by the name of Dave was out partying on the Friday night and did the classic 'get a friend to phone in' and say he was sick the next day. It left us in the lurch and I was hacked off, without speaking to Dave I let it be known to other drivers that I intended to fire him for this transgression. When he found out, through one of the drivers phoning him, he was very upset and got his father to call in to verify his story. I reversed my decision but the change in Dave when he returned to work was immense. It highlighted to me the massive difference between an excellent employee who comes to work and does the best they can do and someone who clicks into 'minimum requirement' mode and is there to do the minimum required to collect a pay check. I apologised to Dave for my mistake of not speaking with him before I let everyone know I intended firing him, but things were never the same. Dave never again came to work as he was before, enthusiastic and keen to help, he came and did the minimum that was required to stay out of trouble and showed me what a difference bad management can make to how much work employees are willing to put into a job.

Managers should never underestimate how powerful their influence is over how much people enjoy their job and how much work they are willing to put into it. I remember as a student working as a delivery driver for Dominos Pizza. There were two managers, one was arrogant, unhelpful and suffered a severe lack of personality, the other was a short wee Geordie who was the opposite, cheerful and helpful, always friendly and polite. I was two different employees depending on which manager was running the shift. Under the arrogant one I pushed everything to the limit, was 5 minutes late to work, stopped off after deliveries to have my dinner or visit friends, did nothing in the store unless asked etc, whilst under the other manager I was early, was helpful in store and rushed back to get the next orders because I wanted to relieve the pressure on the manager. Same company, same premises, same pay and incentive scheme - the only difference was the manager and the difference in the work I put forward was poles apart!

I have covered what I feel to be the most important topics for effectively running an organisation, although the site is very much a 'work in progress' It is designed to be able to 'dip in' to any topic that you feel a need to learn more about. Is your team looking to implement Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)? I can show you what to look for. Restructuring? Check out Change Management. Want to improve your knowledge on empowerment or performance appraisals? I cover those and recommend the best books if you want a more in depth learning experience. Want tips on how to motivate your staff, I have many and much much more!

Although I studied Business Science at University, majoring in Economics, and I have nothing against formal business education, I feel it lacks practicality. It's too theoretical and doesn't equip students with the knowledge or skills necessary to effectively lead or manage people. I sold my first business to a large conglomerate and was tied into working for them for 5 years. The CEO of the group, a fellow by the name of Zed Koudonaris, was a brilliant individual. Back then he was still in his late thirties but had a conglomerate that employed many thousands of employees and did everything from fast food chains to supermarkets to bakeries to hotels and crocodile farms. He pulled all his managing directors in one afternoon and gave us a talk on how to manage our businesses (see 'Zed's Lesson' in the contents) I remember leaving that day thinking 'I learned more useful information in one afternoon listening to him than I did in a whole year at University'.

I have a love and fascination with leading and managing individuals and learning how to bring out the best in them. As a leader and a manager, bringing out the best in your people means your customer gets superior service, your organisation thrives, and everyone is happy and fulfilled! Nirvana!

This site is designed as a free resource to help managers bring out the best in themselves and the people they work with and as a result experience greater success and enjoyment from their work.

I hope you find it helpful!