5 Tips for Being A Better Manager

November 3, 2014

BY Alan C. Fox, author of PEOPLE TOOLS FOR BUSINESS: 50 Strategies for Building Success, Creating Wealth, and Finding Happiness

I’ve been “the boss” for more than 45 years, running my own law firm and commercial real estate company, and I am constantly learning new things about what it means to be a good manager. Below are 5 lessons that I’ve learned over the years.

1. Applaud

Praising people for a good job is a far more effective motivator than criticizing them for a bad one. As the great English writer Samuel Johnson once wrote, “The applause of a single human being is of great consequence.” Publicly praise others for their triumphs, both honestly and often.  You will add luster to their lives and you will motivate them to excel.

2. Advertise Your Mistakes

It may be counterintuitive, but admitting that you’re wrong doesn’t have to be a sign of weakness, even in the often-competitive atmosphere of today’s workplace. In my experience, it actually makes you a stronger leader. Practice advertising, rather than hiding, your mistakes. People trust you more when you’re open about your imperfections. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, and if we can admit that to ourselves and others, we’ll build much stronger and more authentic relationships.

3Leave Grumpy at Home

As the leader, you are responsible for the mood and morale of your business, team, family, or any other kind of group you’re a part of. How you are has a significant effect on everyone else around you. That means that even if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, argue with your spouse before heading to work, or are aggravated for any other reason, you shouldn’t spread that negative vibe amongst your coworkers. Instead make the effort to “leave grumpy at home,” so you don’t infect your workplace. When you do, you won’t just help everyone else feel better, you’ll end up feeling better yourself.

4. Listen. Really, Listen.

“Many receive advice, few profit by it.”(Maxim 149, Publilius Syrus). Whether it be from the newest employee or the CEO, being open to feedback, suggestions, or ideas is crucial to determining what will be most productive for you and your organization. No single person has all the answers and new ideas and solutions can often come from the most unexpected places. And of course, you shouldn’t just listen as a courtesy to others to make them feel heard. You should actually hear them. Take them in and consider a new perspective. More often than not, you’ll be glad you did.

5. Improvise

How many times have you shown up to work expecting the day to go a certain way and then had things go exactly according to plan? You can probably count the number on one hand. Life and business are unpredictable. While there are physical, social, and psychological guidelines you can count on, there is certainly no script. So in order to succeed, you always have to be ready to improvise. As the leader or manager, adapting to change and solving unexpected problems are your primary responsibility. As the old Chinese saying goes, “A tree that is unbending is easily broken.”

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About The Author

ALAN FOX is the president of ACF Property Management, Inc, and author of The New York Times bestseller PEOPLE TOOLS: 54 Strategies for Building Relationships, Creating Joy, and Embracing Prosperity. He is also the author of PEOPLE TOOLS FOR BUSINESS: 50 Strategies for Building Success, Creating Wealth, and Finding Happiness. Fox has university degrees in accounting, law, education, and professional writing. He was employed as a Tax Supervisor for a national CPA firm, established his own law firm, then founded a commercial real estate company in 1968 that now owns over one billion dollars in real estate. Fox is the founder, editor, and publisher of Rattle, one of the most respected literary magazines in the United States, and he sits on the board of directors of several non-profit foundations. Visit

One Comment »

  1. avatar

    I love number 5, it is so true, the best plan is subject to external forces and we have to adjust successfully. Great article….

    If I may, suggest one more…Servant leadership. As managers we have to serve our internal and external customers, our staff, and the mission of the organization. It is important to portray our willingness to serve others while supporting the cause.

    AMA is such a wonderful platform, thank you for everything you do!

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