by Dr. Chaz Austin, Ed.D.


There are two kinds of bosses: the kind you want to kill, and the kind you’d kill FOR. Leadership (vision) and management (execution) are not about theory – they’re about how to deal with and empower your most important asset – your people.

  1. HIRE GREAT PEOPLE. In addition to the hard skills someone needs in order to do the job, you’re looking for the things that cannot be taught: intelligence, good critical thinking skills, a willingness to learn, being personable – and someone you can get along with. These essential character qualities – combined with their knowledge and experience – will make them win with you, your team, and your customers.
  2. CREATE A JOB DESCRIPTION. Put the most important qualities at the top. You will probably not get everything you want. Get MOST of it, and then train people in what they need to learn. Because of their personal qualities (see #1), that should be relatively easy.
  3. HAVE YOUR TEAM BE INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS of hiring new people. Don’t play “boss” by forcing your choice on others. Your employees will have to live with this new person. If they didn’t have any say in bringing them on board, you’ll be injecting a virus into your environment. Viruses get rejected by the host.
  4. TRAIN YOUR PEOPLE. One of the dysfunctional characteristics of American business is that companies don’t train people. They just throw them into work without mentoring, without even showing them where the land mines are buried. People want to do well. Guide them in understanding how to navigate the culture of your organization. The most important thing a new employee can learn is “how things work around here.”
  5. EVERYONE’S DIFFERENT. Treat all your employees as individuals. What motivates one person may not necessarily motivate another.
  6. ACKNOWLEDGE THE MEMBERS OF YOUR TEAM. Thank your employees every day before they leave work. You know they do good work, but you want them to know you recognize and appreciate their efforts. And be authentic about it – people can smell a phony.
  7. SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION. Reward your team in tangible ways, too: lunches, drinks after work, birthday and work anniversary celebrations, raises, bonuses, days off, etc. Trips to conferences and conventions are a great perk – everyone needs to get out of the office occasionally, no matter how good a work environment you’ve created.
  8. DON’T TAKE YOURSELF (OR THE JOB) TOO SERIOUSLY. Unless you work in an E.R., no one is going to die. Have some perspective – and a sense of humor – about your work environment. Send everyone home (including yourself) at the end of the day to have a life. The problems will still be there in the morning. I promise.
  9. BE THE CALM CENTER. Your job is to handle problems, to be the calm center of the storm when they arise – which is constantly. See #8 when the problems start bothering YOU.
  10. DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE. I hold a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership, and all theories of leadership and management can be reduced to four words: Don’t Be An Asshole. Don’t play “boss” and lord your position over your team. No need to be abusive. Show some restraint.
  11. BE A GIANT EAR. A leader/manager needs to be a combination amateur therapist/priest/mommy (or daddy). The members of your team may come to you to fix a problem and “make it all better.” Maybe there is nothing you’ll have to do. Just listen. People need to vent. They can often find the solutions themselves.
  12. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR TEAM’S BODY LANGUAGE. It never lies. Ever notice how there are 12-Step Programs for alcoholism, drug dependency, gambling addiction, etc., but none for workaholism? Companies encourage overwork. Don’t YOU do that. People tend to work too hard and too much, and their bodies rebel and then they get sick. Part of your job is to monitor your team’s well-being. Encourage them to maintain balance in their lives. They’ll often be harder on themselves than you could ever be. Be kind to them, and train them how to be kind to themselves.
  13. LEAVE YOUR PEOPLE ALONE to do their jobs. You hired great people; encourage their ideas. They’re “on the ground,” the infantry, so to speak, while you’re somewhat removed from the day-to-day. They see things you don’t (and vice versa). Be humble: they’ll have ideas for improving process and workflow that would never have occurred to you. Embrace their ideas. Tweak those ideas as needed, but make it okay for them to suggest the outrageous.
  14. PROCESS VS. RESULTS. The mantra needs to be: “How LITTLE work can we do?” (in other words, how efficiently can we use our time?). Let your team be responsible for the process (HOW things are done). YOU focus on quantifiable RESULTS. Work with your team to set goals they can accomplish, so they can WIN.


A great leader is a Gardener.

He or she creates a safe environment for their people,

and protects and nurtures that environment so they can grow and flourish.