Training Industry

The Best Practices Of Effective Leaders & Managers

  • The Best Practices Of Effective Leaders & Managers

As a leader-manager, consultant-coach, and author whose works and services have been used by thousands of other leaders and managers, many years ago it become obvious to me how valuable it would be to provide them with practical, useable guidance about the high impact practices required for their own, others, and their organization’s success.  Blessed with the collaboration and brilliance of my co-author, Dr. Drea Zigarmi, fourteen such ‘best’ practices have been identified. We further discuss these in our book, THE LEADER WITHIN, and how to put them into personal action in our program, THE LEADERSHIP BRIDGE: Situational Leadership II® & DISC, that identifies which are common strengths and which need to be developed based on 16 personal style performance patterns. 

For now, a few key points can be most helpful to the reader. First, hardly anyone is likely to be characterized by all 14 of these practices. Based on that reality we can see that each of us has our own continuing leadership and management development growth opportunities.  And, that in the short-run, effective teammates (whether peers, direct reports, or others) can help us with our short-suit practices.  Dr O Blog 9

It is also very valuable to know that these best practices are vital at all levels of management and leadership for any organization, regardless of size, industry, or culture.  Their common focus is high performance, a universal requirement for the sustained success of any organization, private or public. In this regard, we have found these 14 ‘best’ practices essential for sustained success in all four areas of our Life Associates business model—culture, strategy, processes, and people performance.   

We describe and make practical use of these ‘best’ practices’ in our work using Situational Leadership II® in training and coaching managers and leaders. In more favorable situations, 7 Supportive practices contribute to effective individual, group/team, and organizational performance. These include such supportive practices as listening, praising, seeking input, team building, and problem-solving.  

And, in less favorable situations, 7 different Directive practices are essential to shaping successful performance. When effectively executed, these include setting goals (clear expected results), prioritizing, planning work in advance, clarifying roles, and methods for monitoring and managing performance/ progress.  

Once again, it is essential to realize that no individual is likely to naturally exhibit all of these, especially in less favorable situations.  In fact, my colleague Dr. Zigarmi has completed research that has shown that while virtually all of the supportive practices are positively correlated with Emotional Intelligence, none of the Effective Leader-Manager Directive Practices are correlated with it! The implications are significant, given the fact that unfavorable business conditions and situations like those being increasingly faced by leaders and managers in the current and future environment will require both of these types of effective practices for sustained personal and organizational success. 

If you would like further information about the above resources, you can contact me at my website address noted below.  

Dr. Michael O’Connor is a recognized thought leader, executive coach and founder of Life Associates & The Center For Managing By Values.  Michael is the co-author of “The Leadership Bridge Program (Situational Leadership II® & DISC)” several books, “The Leader Within,” “Managing By Values,” “People Smart,” and more.  For additional information visit  


About the Author

Michael O'Connor

Dr. Michael J. O'Connor is the Founder and Executive Vice President of Life Associates and The Center for Managing by Values.

He is an internationally recognized THOUGHT LEADER who has contributed several different types of breakthroughs for producing higher personal, group/team, and organizational performance and purposeful fulfillment.  He has often been referred to as a practical, problem-solving visionary.  He is called upon daily to provide his expertise in the areas of personal, group and organizational behavior. Michael has dedicated his life to helping others of all walks of life, positions and types, as well as levels of organizations, through his coaching, consulting, speaking, training, writing and resource products.

His past 30 years research has translated into many best selling books including THE LEADER WITHIN, PEOPLE SMART and MANAGING BY VALUES.  The same research and practical expertise has enabled Michael to act as coach and advisor to many businesses across the United States, Canada and Europe.  He is recognized for his accomplishments in the fields of leadership assessment development, conflict resolution, behavioral management, building winning business cultures and strategic development.  Michael is the creator of the Global Profiles System (GPS) which includes Analysis Profiles for Personal Style, Personal Values, Personal Interest, Personal Capabilities and Personal Adaptability.

Michael holds a B.S. in the social sciences, an M.A. in the behavioral sciences/psychology and a Ph.D. in management. He has served as the Vice President of Resources Development & Consulting at Carlson Learning Co. and been a university professor. He is the founder of both Life Associates and the Center for Managing By Values

You can contact Dr. O’Connor through our website and see resources he has developed, including free webinars, at


The insight about needing BOTH directive and supportive behaviors in your leadership/management toolkit is critical in times like these. This becomes even more important considering almost all of us use ONLY directive or supportive behaviors when in stressful and unfavorable situations. While recently working with a group of "leaders of tomorrow" it became apparent that many of these budding leaders felt that supportive behaviors meant being a pushover and directive behaviors meant being a micromanager or dictator. Only after case studies and role playing did they realize that a supportive approach can be firm and a directive approach can be compassionate. Another example of where a "both-and" approach is needed instead of an "either-or" approach.

David SpaderAugust.17.2009 (3:03 PM)

David Thank you for your thoughtful and important reinforcing comment and personal illustration for your own experience with managers. It is most valuable for us to realize that people, like the group you mentioned, often have a negative view of that leadership/management practice that differs from their own. And, in both cases, their view reflect the reality of the too often found ineffective attitudes and practices of such managers. Your experiential learning activity with them is one of the types needed for most to gain both an appreciation and understanding of what effective management/leadership practices look like (whether directive or supportive). Thanks again for sharing for the benefit of other readers of this leadership blog and keep up your great work with managers/leaders!

Dr. Michael O'ConnorSeptember.09.2009 (10:35 AM)

David, Michael. I advocate the development of awareness as a stimulant for change. I have found in my coaching endeavors behind a computer game that discrete approaches can give people options that they have not previously considered and challenge 'the habitual' behavior as well. I agree with disrupting habits to grow people. HOWEVER, scratching the surface may be dangerous. Managers are eager to try out new behaviors before they understand how to use them and so when they do or don't work out they either think they have mastered it or that the coaching was misguided. I think we all know that the context and nuance of the situation will dramatically affect the balance of positiveness and assertiveness. The more depth we can give managers to understand why the get the results they get, the more they learn how to reflect, adjust and become more resilient to the challenges of their managerial career. The learning shouldn't stop at the level of "both positive and assertive behaviors are needed" (or any other approach) but at the level of "why positive and assertive behaviors work and why they do not". Managers need to understand how communication affects emotions and how that affects motivation. They also need to understand that their own emotions are part of that mix as well. The more we can teach people to think for themselves, apply common wisdom and have the courage to change their behaviors, the more difference we will make in their lives and those they affect. Feel free to push back on this. The learning is in the discussion.

Graham CourtneySeptember.22.2009 (1:08 PM)

Thank you Graham for your very thoughtful and insightful response. It enriches the original blog I wrote by focusing on the underlying sources of successful leadership and management practices as well as the importance of understanding how emotions shape our thoughts (or lack of such) and actions. It is also important to emphasize both the “context” and “why” dimensions you mention. Without this, both the practical “what” and “how” actions of a manager-leader are quite likely to have a sub-optimized impact on the intended results—or, worse yet, adverse consequences.

Dr. Michael O'ConnorOctober.09.2009 (11:37 AM)

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