Meaningful Management

Management is multifaceted and difficult to teach. Today we focus on a very different way of managing where we emphasize meaningful relationships between team members and their managers. This ensures that there is harmony in the workplace, and efficiency and productivity tends to follow. Team members now want to be led by people they admire. They also understand that they have a choice of employer and tend to gravitate towards companies aligned with their own beliefs.

We will only employ people who are aligned with our vision, our mission and our values.

If team members are welcomed as part of a team working towards a common goal the results can be spectacular. You already know that your team has same drive and determination you have, and they seem to just get on with it. With the right management, the workplace turns into a family environment and it doesn’t feel as much like work anymore. Conversations shift to discussions about how individuals can add more value and each idea or change is assessed on its merit, not on who owns it.

The workplace becomes an environment where people accidently stay late without realising, micromanagement isn’t ever required and you are never wondering where someone is because they are always there. The business begins to thrive because every team member is focussed on the outcome not the task. Each team member is vital and really feels like they are because their thoughts and ideas are valid regardless of if they are used. Overall, there is more harmony and a definite sense of achievement from the team as a whole.

This environment needs to be built as it doesn’t naturally occur. It needs to be nurtured and respected by every team member. You need to be a leader and inspire everyone in the team. Team members who don’t align need to exit immediately as bad attitudes spread like cancer.

Does this environment sound too good to be true? It isn’t… there are specific principles you can follow build this environment.


The following Leadership Principles align with my Vision, Mission and Values to guide every conversation I have with team members. With all combined, we have more meaningful interactions which also helps build the relationship with each individual.



I think as managers we tend to do one of two things:

  1. Gloss over the details and make light of a situation to keep a relationship with a team member; or
  2. Go in guns blazing and drive our point home with force

The problem I have found with both of these scenarios is they don’t get to the point of what the immediate issue is.

I am a big fan of taking the emotion out of everything when possible. When you hire people in tune with your vision, it allows you to have different conversations. It allows you to have high level discussions. It allows you to have a relationship with your team members, not run a dictatorship.

When you are sitting with a team member that really gets you and what you are about, it allows you to be brutally honest and to the point. There is no need for a facade because you are both working towards the same goal. It is simply a conversation that defines

  1. What is happening?
  2. The optimal thing that could be happening?
  3. Ways to make it perfect…

end of story, hug it out.

You will find that you become a guiding force instead of an authoritarian. They look up to you for guidance and support and genuinely want to be a contributing factor towards that massive vision. These discussions are more about direction, and strategies to get to the common goal in the best way possible.

Take Away: Sit down with each team member at their next monthly performance review and use the points above to discuss specific ways they can help achieve the goal more efficiently. Make notes after each review rating your own performance and ability to address concerns. Reassess the following next month:

a.) The team member’s improvement and

b.) Your own improvement in addressing the next set of items.

A team member’s improvement may also be an enhancement in the relationship you have with them or even a more positive demeanour in the workplace.  



An alternative is that the team member’s overall commitment to the cause is wavering. The discussion then becomes high level and deep into their emotions. Things like, what has caused you to shift away from a focus on the vision? Do you think your current performance is in line with our values and what can we do to get you through this hard time?

Don’t forget, you are building a family environment and it needs to be nurtured. Support is paramount. Regardless of your conviction and commitment to the vision, we all have bad days (and sometimes weeks). Offering guidance in these situations will solidify those relationships and help to build a team of champions that are all aligned with your vision.

Take Away: Think about each team member in this way. Are they perfectly aligned with your vision, mission and values? If not, have a frank conversation about the way they fit into your business.



This has to be the most obvious principle for a leader to live by. Some may say it’s a personality trait, my opinion is that it can be taught so it isn’t a personality trait.

“Leading by example” is defined in ancient management books but I think it has been taken completely out of context in modern times. Leaders simply need to lead. Sales managers that think they need to go out and sell more effectively than their sales people, operations managers that feel they need to manage workflows better than their project managers etc. The reality is that the most effective leader is best at motivating the team and pointing the ship in the right direction.

The leader that gets the most respect from their team is the one that makes calculated decisions without hesitation, then proceeds to execute those plans. Right or wrong, the team knows where they stand and the direction the ship is headed. If a decision is wrong, you pivot and rectify with conviction. The team know there is no such thing as perfection and respect the vision and direction.

In my experience when there is no clear cut decision made teams begin to crumble and there is mutiny in the ranks. The leader has not communicated to the team effectively, so individual team members begin to communicate their own message. This is detrimental to the team environment and will break down the family environment you worked so hard to build in quick succession.

Take Away: Assess every action you take over the next week with decisiveness in mind. Think about how you were perceived by your team, think about ways you came to make the decision you made (or didn’t make) and ways that could have been improved. Make improvements based on the information you collect and assess the following week as a comparison.



This sounds counter intuitive from a leader’s perspective but there are multiple views on this point. Some agree, some disagree but here’s my opinion – if there are no failures among the team, they aren’t pushing the envelope enough.

The safe comfortable zone is not a place I like to be, nor is it a place that I want my team to be. I believe excellence is born out of risk, I believe failure always precedes excellence and this never occurs in the ‘safe zone’. I always want an excellent team so I embrace failures.

Let me be a little more specific… I embrace failures I don’t encourage them. I encourage excellence and understand that failure goes hand in hand with it. I lead by example and ‘fail forward’, I let the team know that it is okay to fail. It is also important for them to share their failures with the team and, more importantly, their learnings from that event. Most important of all, you are part of the team and you also need to share your failures.

Take Away: Set up a simple process that allows you to monitor and manage failures in the team. This should be a simple, self-managed system built by the team that may even exist on your intranet or even a shared spreadsheet. It should address what the failure was, how it was handled, how it could have been handled better, how to avoid the outcome and general comments on the lessons learned during the event.


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