There are leaders at all levels, whether we identify them with a special title or simply recognize their ability to direct their colleagues. Managers, on the other hand, have responsibilities to the organization to achieve results, often by working with the leaders.

Here are my ABCs on what managers need to know:

A is for advice. Good advice doesn’t get old. Good advice is never cheap, and cheap advice is never good. B is for bringing out the best in others to get them to believe in what you believe in: your employees.

C is for caring is contagious. Help spread it around. D is for diverse. You get the best results from people with diverse ideas who respect each other and are committed to each other’s successes.

E is for excellence. Managers should demand nothing less than excellence because they have set an example of demanding excellence from themselves. F is for first. Running your own business is no endeavor for anyone who feels anything other than the urge to be the first person in the door in the morning and the one they have to drag out at night.

G is for good. The trick isn’t to get good at everything in your business. The trick is getting to know what you are good at and figuring out how to get better. H is for hero. As much as you would like to be a hero, look to the heroes in your company and acknowledge and encourage their contributions. I is for impression. What’s the easiest way to check the first impression you’re making? Have someone call your company to check up on how the call is handled. J is for judging. We consciously or unconsciously judge a lot of companies by the attitudes of their average workers — the store clerk, driver, receptionist and so on. Don’t underestimate their impact.

K is for kindness. Treat yourself and others with respect. Plant seeds of kindness by doing something kind every day. L is for listen. You can’t learn anything if you are doing all the talking. Listen to your staff because they often have great solutions and ideas for improvement.

M is for money. Managing money is as important as managing people. If you don’t manage your resources well, you will have to manage the mess you have made. N is for nice, as in nice guys can and often do finish first. N should never be for nasty. O is for obligation. Your first obligation to your company and employees is to set them up for success. P is for pride. Take pride in your company. Take pride in your employees. Take pride in your products. But check your personal pride at the door.

Q is for qualifications. Help your employees develop the qualifications they need to take the next step in their careers. R is for right. Always make time to do it right the first time. Otherwise you will have to take time to do it over. S is for sales. A manager needs to sell ideas, plans and products to staff before a project can take off. T is for team. The people who make it big in business are those who are able to put together a team and know what to do with it.

U is for upfront. Being upfront builds trust. Customers and employees appreciate honesty and will be more willing to work with people who respect them enough to tell them when there’s a problem.

V is for versatile. Of the many skills managers need to bring to the job, versatility is key to understanding the different challenges they face daily. W is for walk your plant or office floor at least once a day. Be visible and available.

X is for eXpert. Spend at least 10% of your budget on the best professional advice available before you spend a nickel on anything else.

Y is for yesterday. The decisions you made yesterday will determine where you go tomorrow. Z is for zenith. An exceptional manager guides a company to its zenith.

Mackay’s Moral: Managing people is an art; strive for a masterpiece.


Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail