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55 Ways to Be a Better Manager

Here are 55 quick and easy ways to take your leadership skills to the next level. Let them inspire you, and you'll soon be more productive than ever.

Sometimes, the most useful advice is the advice that you can tape above your desk, in order to have a daily reminder. Here are more than 50 thought-provoking questions, statements and truisms in the categories that most managers encounter daily. So print them out, tape them up and prepare to see inspiration in front of you every day.

Setting Goals

The best goals are...

  • Few in number, specific in focus
  • Not too hard, not too easy
  • Mutually agreed upon
  • Visualized and written down

Process Improvement

  • Imagine you were doing the task for the first time--how would you do it differently from the way you are doing it now?
  • If you had to, how could you do the task twice as fast? Five times as fast? Ten times as fast?
  • Do you really need to do the task? What would happen if you skipped it?
  • What would be a completely different way of doing the task?
  • Who can do the task better or more efficiently?

Innovation and Creativity

  • The heart of creativity is making new connections--constantly seek out new connections
  • Ask "What if?" or develop "what-if" scenarios
  • Consider approaches you've never considered before
  • Brainstorm with others

Capitalizing on Opportunities

  • What's good about a recent change?  What can you do to make it great?
  • What other aspects of your business are impacted by a change?
  • Many opportunities are disguised as problems--find them


  • If it's important, make it personal
  • Choose the best time for maximum impact
  • More communication is not necessarily better communication


  • What actions give you the greatest impact?
  • What one thing will you do differently? How will you keep your commitment to doing that one thing?

Strategic Thinking

  • Ask: How will a new strategy improve the organization's competitiveness?
  • How will it be perceived by customers?
  • What's the long-term impact of your planned actions?


  • Start on time and end when you said you would
  • Have an agenda
  • Only invite the people who should be in the meeting
  • Create action items with schedules

Time Management

  • Do your most important task first
  • If your most important task is too difficult, divide it into smaller tasks
  • Have a system for managing your time

Taking Action

  • Do it now!
  • If you can't do it now, do it quickly (you can always make improvements later)
  • Remember: It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission


  • Have clear rules and expectations
  • Compromise to make progress
  • Listen more than you talk


  • Influence = Power
  • People are persuaded differently, so find out where the hot buttons are
  • Individually ask for people's support


  • Create a file of new people you meet each day, and the context in which you met them
  • Seek out people who can help you achieve your goals
  • Join a professional association and be an active participant

Doing Your Homework

  • Get background on the situation
  • Think it through
  • Anticipate additional needs

Above and Beyond

  • Deliver more than you promise
  • Do it better than you did before
  • Imagine what would "wow" the other person 


  • 90 percent of the value occurs in the last 1 percent of effort
  • Always do your best
  • Never, never ever give up


  • Learn something new each day
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Ask others how they would have done something

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Last updated: Oct 30, 2013


While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest columns, and visit him anytime at

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