Monthly Archives: January 2021




The High-Impact Middle Management System helps middle managers optimize performance by clarifying which actions improve performance and which do not. The system focuses on developing the skills needed to carry out the most worthwhile practices. As with many areas of management, the 80/20 rule applies. To develop habits that make the most impact, it is first important to understand the management assumptions that are not helpful and the actions that either work poorly or do not work at all.

Haneberg offers five valuable myths about managing people:

Myth 1:Employees Do Not Want Management. Although it is true that most employees do not like micromanagement, it is not correct to assume that employees do not want to work in a well-managed department. Employees expect and hope that their manager will show leadership, plan the work, and make sure that everyone is doing their job.

Myth 2:Performance Evaluation Systems Improve Performance. In most organizations, managers dread doing performance evaluations and employees dislike receiving them. Even though the evaluation system may promote discussions that clarify expectations, it does not always directly foster improved performance. Along with being ineffective, evaluation systems also take up substantial time and resources.

Myth 3:Employees Prefer a Sugarcoated Counseling Session to a Candid One. Managers often sandwich criticism between positive statements, but this technique does not work because employees see right through it. If a middle manager needs to counsel an employee, she should do so in a manner that is direct, clear, and candid.

Myth 4:Positive Reinforcement Is a Great Tool for Improving Performance. According to Haneberg, many positive reinforcement practices backfire because they manage behavior but do not optimize performance. Although employees do want to feel appreciated, practicing positive reinforcement does not accomplish this. When positive reinforcement is part of a deliberate practice, it feels fake and manipulative. Employees may feel insulted rather than motivated.

Myth 5:Salary Increases Improve Employee Motivation and Productivity. According to Haneberg, pay and other extrinsic rewards do not improve performance, nor do they increase an employee’s overall motivation. When lacking, or at an unsatisfactory level, these extrinsic factors can get in the way of employee motivation. Once they are at a satisfactory level, however, they have little or no impact on motivation or achievement. Employees want to be respected and included in meaningful brainstorming and problem-solving discussions. High-impact middle managers know that these things matter much more than gold stars, performance ratings, and other extrinsic rewards.

Maximizing Throughput


Skilled middle managers know the importance of monitoring throughput and productivity, making sure nothing gets in the way of the team’s success. Throughput is the rate at which a person, department, system, or function produces results. It may be expressed in terms of speed, quantity, time, or a combination of these factors. Middle managers are in the best position to recognize and resolve problems that limit throughput. The most common problems that reduce throughput are:

Problem 1:Bottlenecks. A bottleneck is a point of congestion that reduces the flow of work and hinders progress and productivity. There can be several bottlenecks occurring at the same time.

Problem 2:Constraints. A constraint is the bottleneck that has the most impact on overall throughput and results. A constraint can be a person, system, process, step, piece of machinery, or computer function.

Problem 3:Slow Process Connections. Sometimes the connections between resources affect throughput more than the steps of the process itself. This is especially a problem with work processes that rely on two or more handoffs between people in the same or different departments.

Problem 4:Lengthy or Complicated Critical Paths. Dependencies among steps slow processes. A critical path shows middle managers which interdependencies are affecting the overall throughput rate.

Problem 5:Skill Deficiencies. One common reason for slower throughput of work assignments and projects is a middle manager’s inability to plan, monitor, and assign work. Other skill shortages also get in the way of throughput. Middle managers who have not developed their abilities to partner, manage performance, set goals, or coach others will also suffer from lower throughput.

Problem 6:Breakdowns. Breakdowns are symptoms of process failures. People can also be the cause of breakdowns. Personal illnesses, vacations, and other situations that cause a person to stop working on a task could be considered breakdowns.

Problem 7:Errors. Errors are mistakes that lead to other additional work or cause work to have to be reworked.

Problem 8:Waste. Waste, as it relates to throughput, is work that is substandard or not usable – or work that, though satisfactory, is not used. An example of waste would be when an employee copies and then distributes reports that few people read.

Problem 9:Changes. Changes affect throughput in a variety of ways. When changes occur, error rates and waste may also increase; many changes can result in temporary skill deficiencies and workplace slowdowns.

Problem 10:Employee Turnover. Employee turnover results in skills deficiencies, higher error rates, slower work pace, breakdowns, and waste.

Problem 11:Inadequate Worker Training. When changes are made, workers need to be retrained. If they do not have the right training, they cannot do their best work.

Solving Throughput Problems

Haneberg offers several solutions for solving throughput problems.

Solution 1:Distinguish Constraints from Bottlenecks. Middle managers may waste time removing bottlenecks that are not constraints. Individuals who seek to optimize their part of a process without looking at the whole picture are most likely to face this problem. Distinguishing constraints from bottlenecks and focusing on constraint performance will ensure that time and resources have the highest benefit.

Solution 2:Reduce the Impact of Constraints. Once managers identify constraints, they can work to improve or supplement the constraint’s performance. This is often the most valuable work that a middle manager can do. When dealing with constraints, managers should consider using these steps:

* Test to confirm that the constraint has been properly identified.

* Determine the potential capacity of the constraint. The constraint capacity is the amount of work related to a particular process that can possibly be done under the best of circumstances.

* Identify ways to improve capacity.

* Seek out additional resources to help lessen the constraint.

* Optimize the efficiency of the constraint through better setups and handoffs.

Solution 3:Reduce Bottlenecks When Necessary. Managers must also address bottlenecks that are likely to become the next constraint. They may also want to reduce bottlenecks as a part of an overall process redesign or optimization. To reduce bottlenecks, managers can take steps similar to addressing constraints:

* Test to ensure that improving the bottleneck will improve results.

* Determine the bottleneck’s capacity. How much high-quality work can this resource complete? Can this resource produce more?

* Identify ways to improve capacity.

* Identify additional resources to decrease the effect of the bottleneck.

* Optimize the efficiency of the bottleneck through better setups and handoffs.

Solution 4:Shorten Critical Paths. Many throughput problems occur because the process or project design does not support the needed pace of throughput. Middle managers often underestimate the time needed to get through the various parts of a process, or critical path. Managers can take the following steps when dealing with critical paths:

* Ensure that the critical path is accurate and complete; beware of hidden steps or delays.

* Test assumptions about each step on the critical path.

* Identify ways to shorten each step on the critical path.

* Identify ways to shorten handoff times.

* Reduce unnecessary steps.

* Determine methods for doing more work concurrently, but ensure that doing so will improve throughput.

Solution 5:Improve Skills. Training and development are useful managerial tools for improving throughput. Managers should objectively determine the skills required of themselves and their team, identify teaching resources, and establish learning follow-up and reinforcement.

Solution 6:Deal with Other Barriers to Throughput. Barriers to throughput regularly challenge middle managers. Managers can obliterate barriers by diagnosing the root cause of problems affecting throughput, and addressing patterns, themes, and recurring barriers.

Balanced Leader


In The Well-Balanced Leader, Ron Roberts helps leaders manage their behaviors in order to achieve “Egolibrium,” the perfect leadership balance. He identifies nine behavioral “faces” that greatly impact leadership quality, and uses various action steps, games, and thought exercises to guide leaders in finding the best behaviors to fit their needs. The Well-Balanced Leader teaches leaders of all types how to transcend their personal needs to focus on the needs of others in order to benefit their organizations, create greater job satisfaction, and generate greater productivity. Roberts provides many ways for leaders to implement small, incremental, and successful changes in their behaviors that can lead to improvements in effectiveness, awareness, and becoming a well-balanced leader.

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Session by Anubha on Leadership & Motivation for First Time Leader role


Many leaders today act and make decisions in an ego-driven manner. They focus on their own needs rather than the needs of others, use manipulation and criticism to get what they want, and are often unconscious of their actions. Sometimes they are told to change, but even when their careers are at stake, many find it difficult to implement modifications in their behaviors. Ego-driven leaders often find themselves in never-ending loops of behaviors and processes that keep them and their subordinates stuck in failed situations. Ego-driven leaders usually exhibit ten common tendencies:

  1. Continuously self-inflating.
  2. Being absorbed with their own needs and self-importance.
  3. Working to gain unlimited power and control.
  4. Proving their amazing, unquestionable, and natural intelligence.
  5. Demonstrating their own self-reliance.
  6. Searching for absolute security and certainty.
  7. Avoiding pain and discomfort, and seeking only positive results.
  8. Accumulating a maximum of material things.
  9. Seeking perpetual personal affirmation.
  10. Unrealistically comparing themselves to others.

Roberts suggests that if leaders can recognize these attributes in themselves and practice the art of Egolibrium, they will begin to admit their flaws and make significant changes. Egolibrium helps leaders disengage from the disabling power of the ego in a systematic manner that empowers them through three main strengths:

1. Other-Centric Perspectives: Thinking of others more often than themselves, and having a clear perspective of their own importance in the larger scheme of things.

2. Conscious Awareness: Striving to become more conscious of what motivates them and what determines how they relate to others.

3. Balance: Thinking about the entire repertoire of responses available in any situation and being free to act on them as necessary. Also, avoiding going to extremes and thinking before acting or speaking.

Egolibrium is based on the choices leaders make on a daily basis and their cumulative effect on people, processes, and organizations as a whole. These choices either reinforce their own egos and weaken others, or empower their subordinates and strengthen their organizations. This is called being an “Other-Centric Leader.” Other-Centric leaders are those who are aware of long-term consequences, strive for balance, listen to others, and try to influence others through positive actions.

Leaders can implement Egolibrium by:

  1. Filling out an Egolibrium assessment to determine where they are on the Egolibrium continuum.
  2. Scoring the answers.
  3. Choosing the greatest strength and greatest area for growth.
  4. Designating ideal objectives and long-term goals.
  5. Practicing the experimental exercises offered throughout the book.


Many leaders make snap judgments without having confirmed facts. These judgments stem from emotions and personal beliefs, and often discount the reactions of other people. Roberts proposes that truly great leaders should not operate this way. Instead, they should consistently work on becoming nonjudgmental in order to increase their consciousness, openness, awareness, and decision making.

Traditional leaders attempt to control situations, people, and processes, and use judgment or criticism to drive benchmarks and productivity. This type of leadership style destroys trust, disrupts interpersonal relationships, lowers the leader’s image, and prevents him or her from seeing clearly. This judgmental nature is innate to humans and is a natural way to manage organizations. However, leaders can change their judgmental natures by becoming emotionally detached from situations and observing them objectively. They must focus on consciously weighing their reactions and becoming aware of their internal motivations, such as feelings of insecurity, inferiority, inadequacy, fear, anger, and anxiety. By being in touch with these feelings, leaders can be set free from their unconscious influence on behaviors and reactions.

When leaders are accepting and nonjudgmental, it enhances organizational alignment and allows followers to focus their resources on external competition rather than internal competition. This nonjudgmental leadership creates a company culture of acceptance that leads to motivated and fulfilled staff members who consistently achieve their goals and objectives.


Defensive behavior in a leader can cause animosity and distrust. When leaders are defensive, they allow their egos to maintain balance and cope with others in the face of a perceived threat. Defensiveness is a mechanism used to block and mask reactions to stress; it cannot make situations or feelings go away. Leaders must learn how to accept reality, put the needs of others first, and non-defensively work toward changing problematic situations.

For many leaders, it is difficult to change their defensive ways. Even if they do not want to, they are always looking out for attacks, responding to situations emotionally, and anticipating conflict and abuse. This type of thinking and behavior leads to organizational suffering as a whole. Staff motivation, process management, and general performance are the three areas that most suffer from defensive behavior.

In order to gain control over defensiveness, leaders must accept their behaviors, move beyond their feelings, and learn to trust others. When conflicts arise, they should practice listening without preparing a response. When responding, they should only address the core positive messages that both parties are trying to convey. There are four steps leaders can follow to conquer defensiveness:

1. Take time out or get away: Change the environment, calm down, and try to slow physical and emotional reactions.

2. Zoom out: Change perspective and try to listen to the true meaning of what others are saying.

3. Detach: Listen to others when they discuss their feelings, but do not act on them. Relax and use logic and objective thinking to deal with issues.

4. Persist: Keep on trying, release defensive feelings, and move forward.

By communicating honestly and openly, leaders can reduce the likelihood of future defensive episodes. By owning their own feelings and avoiding projecting onto others, they will behave more proactively and less defensively.


Many company CEOs, leaders, and managers are over-controlling; they micromanage others, impose their own will, manipulate external events, and make everything happen their own way. To be a truly great leader, people must understand how to balance the relationships between themselves and their subordinates. Great leaders know when to exercise control and when to relinquish it. There is a six-part method leaders can implement to gain the proper amount of control over staff, situations, and processes:

  1. Create a baseline by measuring and assessing the current situation.
  2. Set goals and objectives to achieve a desired result.
  3. Make detailed plans for how to achieve the desired result.
  4. Make adjustments in various strategies and tactics.
  5. Get and give feedback at various intervals.
  6. Set benchmarks for knowing when goals are achieved.

By using these six steps, leaders can begin to maintain order and productivity in the midst of change and chaos. Leaders need to calmly face the challenges of an ever-changing and competitive business world. Leaders cannot control what happens to them or what new challenges the market will throw at their organizations, but they can control how they react to this stress. In stressful situations, leaders must remember these five tips for gaining quick control:

  1. Change the situation by leaving the meeting, taking a breaking, using vacation time, or possibly transferring or changing jobs.
  2. Change the stimuli by creating key words and signals to assist in performance, and anticipating and removing distractions before the start of a project.
  3. Change the frame of reference by interchanging attitudes and concepts.
  4. Change the reaction by becoming a neutral and detached observer.
  5. Practice the knowledge of insecurity and wisdom of uncertainty by delaying reactions until all the information is gathered and presented.

Great leaders must learn to recognize their parts in the interdependent systems of their organizations, that their decisions and actions have a system-wide impact, and that they must relinquish control at the right times in order to inspire others and achieve organizational goals. When they can do this effectively, they will find that strategic planning and execution is greatly enhanced, change management is easier, and decision making is improved.


Leaders must often make decisions with insufficient information. In order to avoid disaster, both leaders and employees must be open to sharing information with others and willing to admit when they do not know something or when they make a mistake. This twofold plan will enable the entire organization to be open to learning, and thus more likely to be successful in the long term.

Roberts suggests a simple four-step process to help leaders become more open to learning:

1. Be a neutral observer: Be honest about the current situation and observe new decisions, choices, and informational input related to planning and execution.

2. Assimilate and understand: Look at information from every angle and use that awareness and discomfort as motivation to change.

3. Analyze and gain perspective: Detach from emotions and think about the impact or possibilities the new knowledge will have on current and future situations.

4. Decide when to be proactive and how to react: Take small steps to methodically implement the process of incremental change.

It is important for both leaders and employees to resist judging themselves or becoming defensive as they learn how to open up to learning. They should repeat the four-step plan as many times as necessary to manage this new onslaught of awareness and knowledge.

The failure to learn is almost always driven by feelings of insecurity, fear, and rigidity, but great leaders learn how to push past these emotions and open themselves up to learning. In particular, great leaders learn how to toggle between task and process-driven thinking in order to be more conscious of what they need to do to achieve results. As they do this, they will become more comfortable with making mistakes and learning valuable lessons from these failures.

In order for leaders to impart the knowledge they are assimilating, they must communicate it effectively using four different methods:

  1. Communicating information horizontally with colleagues on the same level of authority.
  2. Communicating vertically with senior staff members and staff at the lower levels.
  3. Driving information, communication, and authority down the chain of communication.
  4. Sharing important knowledge and key information with others both horizontally and vertically.

Once becoming open to learning themselves, great leaders release knowledge and information to help both their employees and organization as a whole become empowered and successful.


Powerful people do not usually receive honest, consistent feedback. This type of situation, where leaders have vague boundaries, high pressure, and a self-defined perception of reality, makes temptation almost irresistible.

Great leaders, however, rise above these temptations, set principles for themselves, and choose to do the right thing consistently. In a time where there are few moral absolutes, great leaders focus on the five universal principles of moral behavior:

1. Ethics and fairness: Determining if actions are fair, moral, and legal, and what the consequences of the actions would be.

2. Willpower: Using willpower to make hard decisions for the good of the team.

3. Humility and conscious awareness: Having the humility to see one’s self in perspective, as part of a greater whole.

4. Logical thinking and detachment: Detaching from external stress and emotional reactions to think things through logically.

5. Delayed gratification: Delaying one’s own needs temporarily in order to help others.

This type of moral behavior in a leadership position requires accountability, putting aside feelings of entitlement, admission of mistakes, and becoming more Other-Centric in decision making, boundaries, and honesty. When leaders become great leaders by consistently doing the right thing, they will see raised morale in their employees, increased profits, and long-term sustainability for their organizations.


Impatient leaders are those who believe they are so powerful that they can control everything. Oftentimes, they push their employees too hard, over-schedule projects, and cause anxiety and process breakdown. Patient leaders, however, achieve success in phases. They see the greater picture and follow long-term strategic plans.

Roberts defines patience as the ability to endure and remain calm even under the most difficult circumstances. Patient leaders must persevere in the midst of stress without acting or reacting in a negative way. However, this is difficult today since many leaders are required to do more, with fewer resources, in a shorter amount of time.

Multitasking is the new standard, and leaders are expected to push the limits of doing several things at once. However, studies show that multitasking is actually impossible. The brain can only think of one thought at a time, and a person can only do one task at a time. Great leaders must keep this in mind as they learn to balance time, control, and the following eight guidelines to prevent impatience:

  1. Organize ahead of time.
  2. Allow extra time to complete tasks.
  3. Have contingency plans for every possibility.
  4. Think realistically about the consequences of actions.
  5. Think and work in both small and large chunks.
  6. Think in both time and event orientations.
  7. Adjust attitude and reframe thinking when situations go awry.
  8. Substitute other tasks when faced with delays.

When leaders learn to be patient, they can lead their staff toward the same healthy habit. This will help them achieve greater success on both a personal level and an organizational level.


Leaders who hold onto attitudes, values, and beliefs can experience clouded perceptions of reality, as well as negative effects on their decision-making abilities and the performance of their organizations. Great leaders must learn how to let go of goals and beliefs when necessary, face reality, and trust those around them to do what needs to be done.

Letting go of things allows people to grow. According to Roberts, leaders must deal with their employees in the present moment instead of clinging to old methods. They can do this by participating in new management styles, giving freedom to employees, and engaging them in organizational business. This can be a difficult process, and it takes time to master. Leaders must be patient and practice the four steps to letting go:

1. Take it one step at a time: Shoot for small steps and small successes.

2. Take it one minute at a time: Try to let go of a small portion of the issue, just for a minute.

3. Realize that it is alright to be temporarily powerless: Whether it is a specific situation, business deal, process, or system-wide dilemma, try to state the issue of powerlessness out loud and accept it.

4. Forgive and forget: Move past offenses by showing compassion, extending forgiveness, and trying to erase the event from memory.

When leaders can learn to let go, they can then help their co-workers and subordinates do the same, creating good organizational communication, productive work flow, and flexible systems.


When leaders can learn to let go, they can more effectively accept reality. Roberts defines acceptance as an agreement to experience a situation, follow a process, or acknowledge a loss without attempting to change, protest, or escape from it. Acceptance allows leaders to plan for the future without losing sight of the present or being overly attached to outcomes.

People often resist experiences they perceive as threatening, frightening, or difficult. Resistant behaviors allow people to avoid the uncomfortable feelings these negative occurrences produce. There are many reasons why organizations and individuals prosper from acceptance, including facing the reality of business situations and effectively dealing with problems and issues. There are six main phases of mastering acceptance.

1. Anticipation: Waiting and anticipating a changed future without being able to take action.

2. Managing Psychological Resistance: Managing the natural resistance to the uncomfortable feelings associated with the change after it occurs.

3. Confrontation: Facing reality and realizing that change is either going to happen, or is already happening.

4. Conscious Realization: Consciously understanding the new reality.

5. Acceptance: Accepting the change emotionally.

6. Realignment with the New Normal: Integrating the change and including new processes in strategic and tactical planning.

Leaders can utilize the Egolibrium thought process to gently blend their internal realities with the external realities of their businesses to gain greater personal acceptance, and to build trust, momentum, and sustained changes.


All great leaders are Other-Centric, meaning that they put their employees and organizations first, base their decisions on reality, see the whole picture, and listen to different points of view. Self-absorbed (or Ego-Centric) leaders are often absorbed in their own egos, interpret events based on their own wishes and fears, operate in isolation, and treat their co-workers and employees with anger, resentment, and bitterness. What Ego-Centric leaders fail to realize is that even their smallest actions have profound effects on their subordinates and organizations.

Leaders can become Other-Centric by mastering communication. Even small miscommunications can negatively impact an organization, so leaders should focus on being honest, tactful, and clear by perfecting the technique of active listening. They must also overcome their sense of entitlement, align values within their organizations, and respect and appreciate others through both words and actions. All these things work together to create continual growth and long-term success.