Your reputation shouldn’t be left for less
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Before Jeff Caponigro’s career in public relations, he was a reporter and columnist for three Michigan newspapers.  One of the columns he wrote for the Midland Daily News was chosen for publication in the hardcover book, Best Sports Stories – 1978, along with the likes of some of the best sportswriters of the time from Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, the New York Times and others.  Jeff was inducted into Central Michigan University’s Journalism Hall of Fame in 2009.

  When your reputation is on the line, call for CPR  


Whether a parent, business CEO, coach, teacher, manager of a restaurant, movie director or anyone who is in a position of authority and leadership, the ones who succeed, see others flourish and receive much in return realize their job is to teach, assist and inspire

Here are 20 traits shown by the best leaders (and just the opposite from those who aren’t):

  1. Teach with questions not criticism.  Instead of telling someone what they did wrong, the effective leaders ask questions that get the individual to analyze why he/she made the decision and to get him/her to realize a different way might just work better.

  2. Keep it positive.  Even mistakes or adjustments can be positioned in a positive and empowering manner.  Biting criticism alone shuts off communication and ends the learning experience.
  3. Don’t generalize.  Effective leaders are clear communicators.  If someone in a business, team or group is under-performing, the effective leader manages the individual discreetly with great specificity.  Poor leaders convince the entire business, team or group that they all are under-performing.  Typically, the under-performer doesn’t get the message and the best performers shut off the leader and eventually move on to something or someone else.

  4. Be happy to see or hear from the person.  Even if you see or hear from the person every day, give the impression you are happy to see or hear from him/her. 

  5. Maintain a consistent disposition.  People want to be led by those who are consistent with their attitude and approach. If someone needs to ask, “What kind of mood is he/she in today?” the leader already has lost them.

  6. It’s about them not you.  Effective leaders don’t give the impression they care more about themselves than others – knowing that if they get others to do what is desired and necessary plenty of rewards will come back to them.

  7. Use the royal We and not I.  “We can learn from this.”  “We will win together.”  “We all need to keep learning.”  A leader needs to reinforce that we are all in this together. All will win or fail together – with no finger-pointing along the way. 

  8. Establish a vision that motivates others.  The effective leader paints a picture of a vision to which others will aspire and find highly motivating.  If the vision fails to do either, it needs to be refocused and better communicated.

  9. Set achievable goals.  A sense of accomplishment is important for those being led.  Rather than establish a lofty goal that may appear unreachable, the effective leader establishes a goal that can be met through focus and hard work.  Once the goal is achieved, set another one and so on.

  10. Manage your expectations. The effective leader knows he/she can’t expect the same from an 8-year old as from someone who is 18 or 28.  You can’t expect the junior employee with little experience to have the same judgment as someone with many years in the business or industry.  Everyone has potential if properly taught, assisted and inspired over time.  Unrealistic expectations always lead to frustration and failure.

  11. Be surprising and keep it fun. Surprise someone with a compliment or above-and-beyond assistance -- or anything that proves you are thinking of and care about them.  Realize that quality of life is more important today than ever before. Effective leaders realize a fun and positive environment always leads to better attitudes, empowerment, creativity and performance.

  12. Say “thank you” and express your appreciation.  Look for reasons to thank those you are leading and to led them know how much you appreciate some trait about them you consider important (i.e., positive attitude, work ethic, discipline, focus, talent, mentoring of others, etc.).

  13. Be humble. If you are really good, people know it already -- no need to tell them yourself.  Remember, it’s about them and not you.

  14. Others are observing.  No matter what a leader says, it is far more important what he or she does.  People want leaders who they can model.  And, a leader loses all credibility if he/she says one thing and does another.
  15. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.  If you say something will be done by a specific period of time, you better do it – or at least respect those who you are leading by explaining why you were unable. You would expect the same from them.

  16. Ask for their advice.  Effective leaders realize communication can’t be just one way.  They seek input, ask for feedback and want advice from those they are leading.  “What’s working?  What could be better or different?  What can be done to help you succeed even more?”

  17. Show how anything can be discussed productively. Ineffective leaders ask for input or suggestions then become defensive and negative when they hear something they don’t want to hear or that appears to be a criticism of them.  The most effective leaders are those who seek opportunities to improve themselves and others – and do so in a humble and understanding manner.

  18. Get your own house in order.  People want to be led by those they feel really have their act together.  Leaders can’t expect others to follow if they appear disorganized, undisciplined, unkempt or unable to handle themselves in a manner others would want to emulate.

  19. Identify vulnerabilities and prevent crises.  Effective leaders realize almost all crises are preceded by a warning sign of some type.  Instead of sweeping problems under the proverbial rug, they identify the vulnerability and seek ways to prevent the issue from becoming a crisis (that can have disastrous consequences if left unattended).

  20. Handle stress with style.  Anyone can lead in good times when everything is smooth and stress-free. Leaders show their true stripes when the pressure is on.  They realize they are examples to those they lead on how to handle stress and to remain focused on what’s most important.  They realize if they become agitated and out of control they are inviting those they lead to do the same. The highest-regarded leaders are cool under pressure, secure in their own abilities and enjoy the challenge of the choppy waters.

All for what it’s worth.  Did I forget anything?


“The attention economy is not growing, which means we have to grab the attention that someone else has today.” ~ Brent Leary


Persuade a local City Council, which had previously turned down a developer's proposal to build an upscale shopping mall, that support by city residents exists to approve a new proposal for the development.


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