The Essentials of Good Management

This material was compiled by my friend and sometime mentor, Tony Rodolakis. Tony was V. P. Risk Management at Starwood Hotels.

Have a plan – A plan puts you in charge of your energies and activities.

Be prepared – Inadequate preparation produces inadequate results.

Choose your own associates – Surround yourself with people that you know and can trust.

To fill a key spot, pull out all the stops – Don’t let normal constraints get in the way.

Teach, Teach, Teach – Be a teacher and hero. Be a success.

Practice private communication – Give quality time/instruction to most trusted aides.

Establish authority – Know the extent of your authority and practice it.

Insist on absolutes – Teach the right way, insist on the right way, be an example of the right way to do business.

Watch your timing – Can maximize impact of activities and events.

Handle corruption immediately – Gather facts, then act. Don’t put it off. Get it over with and move on.

Don’t sugarcoat – Let your associates know exactly what lies ahead for them. Don’t over commit. Don’t promise what you cannot deliver. Be honest and realistic.

Get away from it all – Take your vacations. Real ones in which you get away from work.


Field test your staff – Give them specific tasks, and then let them go do them.

Practice good public relations – Tell your story and that of the company’s well and timely.

Get good logistical support – Don’t get trapped into handling small details. Be free to do the things that only you can do and count the most.

Learn a little humility – Don’t fall into the trap of arrogance. Not only is it unseemly, it is bad business.

Share the glory – Praise those who work for you. Do it publicly. Give credit where it is due.

Say “thanks” – In business and in life, it is impossible to say “thank you” too many times.

Stay in touch with real people – They are your customers and employees.

Be responsive – Return phone calls and answer correspondence promptly.

Don’t neglect public speaking – Use it as a platform to inspire and inform.

Cut your losses – Don’t let pride or stubbornness keep you in a market, product or alliance that is not going to work out.

Learn how to correct subordinates – Correction is generally reserved for those you care about and respect the most.

Beware of sycophants (yes men) – You need to be the kind of leader who appreciates and rewards those who will tell you the truth no matter how distasteful that truth might be. An executive is only as good as the information he has – good and bad.


Be a servant – The surest way to success for a business executive is to put his employees and customers first-in effect, to become a servant to them and meeting their needs.

Discourage position jockeying – A good manager, a successful one, will always know who is producing and who is only talking about producing. Be wary of employees who are merely positioning themselves for advancement rather than advancing the corporate cause.

Be a fruit inspector – Every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. When hiring, look long and hard at the results the person has produced.

Stop Worrying – There is a world of difference between planning and worrying. Planning and paying attention to details are positive activities because we can make positive things happen. Worrying, however, is useless fretting over things we have no control and produces no positive results.

Avoid grandstand plays – Business people are often tempted by the grandstand play, usually to inflate an already oversized ego.

Be fair to all, generous where appropriate – Don’t be concerned about rewarding one person, only because of what others might think. Be fair to all. Be generous where generosity is merited.

Be a risk taker – As corporate managers entrusted with our stockholders’ assets, our job is not to preserve capital but to grow it. This means investing in new products, new markets and new people. Taking prudent risks.

Take care of the children – Create a climate of balance where employees are encouraged to spend quality time with their children.

Pay your taxes – Don’t pay any more than you have to. But pay all that you owe. Get the best tax advice available.

Let your results speak for you – Tell what you have done, not what you think of yourself. Let your record speak for you.

Be an inspirational leader – Be a cheerleader as well as a coach.

Prune for productivity – As managers entrusted with the health of an enterprise, we must constantly cut and prune. People, departments and branches that are not productive must be cut away. This should never be done in a casual or cavalier manner, however, as the people involved should always be seen as important but must be evaluated by their productivity.


Don’t try to serve two masters – No one is happy. The job is done poorly – if at all.

Remain calm in the storm – Regardless of the crisis, recognize the need for calm and try to plan for tough times. Being calm does not mean being detached. You can be calm and still be fully engaged and actively involved.

Settle disputes quickly – One attribute of an effective leader is the ability to be a peacemaker; to be a catalyst for reconciliation. Disputes within a company are usually more harmful than those between companies.

Eat with the troops – It will make them better soldiers.

Evaluate constantly – Make sure those working for you understand both the company’s goals and the methods to reach those goals. Do this by asking questions and constantly evaluating.

Take the narrow path – Success in business almost always comes from differentiating what you make or what you do from your competitors. Find ways to set yourself apart in positive ways from other employees.

Serve families – Genuinely care about the lives of your employees outside the company.

Prepare for tough times – In business, it is necessary to prepare for both the general tough times and the specific periods of crisis that are likely to come. Both a crisis plan and general damage control plan need to be in place.

Stand up for your employees – When you stand up for your people, you are building loyalty and camaraderie while also defending yourself.

Set priorities – Paying constant attention to priorities is the way to success. Remain focused. A universal number-one priority for all companies should be servicing customers and employees.

Prepare for your successors – Recognize that you will, sooner or later, move on. Have a plan in place to deal with it.

Jim Gunther, Principal
Harvard Aimes Group

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