Demonstration Earns Credibility


Managerial skills are only the building blocks to a successful leadership career.

In the break from consistent work that I’ve had recently, I’ve been attempting to finish several books that I started. I highly recommend all leaders pick themselves up a copy of Lee Cockerell’s Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney. It’s full of things that will make you slap your forehead and experience a “should have had a V-8” type moment.

The signature of my work emails even includes a quote directly from the book, but one of my very favorite quotes comes from the last few chapters. Mr. Cockerell writes, “managerial skills give you credibility; unless you are organized, do what you say you are going to do, and keep your promises, you will never be considered a great leader.” I bring this up due to a recent encounter with a young manager who just returned from a leadership training seminar that seems to have failed her, but I don’t find the seminar to be the at fault party in this situation.

We all know a manager like this. They could be our peer, our direct leader or someone we’ve heard our friends talking about. How we know of this person isn’t relevant, but their attitude upon returning from a management retreat or seminar is what comes into question. This leader will come back with phrases exuding their dedication to the company, an overly cheerful demeanor and will be throwing out motivational sentences like it’s the air they breathe. I’m sure you’ve got an example from your own experiences in your mind now.

What is the key signifier that the leadership training failed them? They aren’t actually demonstrating the skills that they are attempting to appear as they’ve learned. This goes back to what Mr. Cockerell stated so simply and straight to the point. Managerial skills are your bread and butter to being on the road of a great leader. However, if you’re not actually demonstrating that you know how to use the skills you’ve learned then they are just a waste. No one will take you seriously and no one is going to give you credit for what you learned.

I’ve been cringing at the horror stories I’ve heard recently about a manager who returned from her leadership training seminar and yet, aside from expressing the tell tale signs above, hasn’t changed in the least. Just being in attendance at these training opportunities isn’t what automatically classifies you as a leader, but putting what you learned to good use will get you on the right track to being respected by those around you. I would say that she might find a copy of Lee Cockerell’s book so generously on her desk sometime soon, but I know from past experiences that managers like that doesn’t take advantage of the opportunities under their nose so it would just go to waste.

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2 Comments to "Demonstration Earns Credibility"

  1. September 19, 2013 - 4:08 PM | Permalink

    When I authorize my subordinates to attend training seminars, I demand two things: 1) A trip report summarizing the highpoints of what they learned at the conference, and 2) List the one great idea they gained from the conference…and then share it with their peers.

    I find that collaborative and self-learning are learning is much more effective than than the pedagogical process of the “sage on the stage” pontificating with the help of PowerPoint slides as the students’ eyes glaze over.

    Adult learning is best when adults learn fro each other–and managers would do well to understand and encourage that in the work environment.

    Add to that the “say, do” dictum of strategic communication and you have the formula for a winning, creative work environment.

What do you have to say about all of this?