Leadership Caffeine™-12 Shots of Leadership Espresso

image of a coffee cupSometimes the best leadership guidance comes in short, strong bursts flavored with a few blunt reminders.  Warning: consume too many of these at one time and your team members will thank you, productivity will go up and work might become a lot more enjoyable.

12 Shots of Leadership Espresso to Help You Get it Right:

1. Lighten up a bit. Will it kill you to smile a little more this week? While Clinton might have been office the last time you smiled in the workplace, it will put you in a better mood and keep your team guessing. Do it a few days in a row and your team members might even smile back.

2. Stifle your inner and outer critic. Everyone knows you are world-class critic. Start paying attention to what’s working and dispense a little positive feedback. Heck, go crazy and dispense a lot of positive feedback from now until you retire.

3. Review this. People really do care about their performance reviews. The most commen lament I hear is not, “gee, I had a bad review,” it’s “gee, I haven’t had a review since Clinton was in office.”  

4. Get out of the way and let the ideas flow. Worried about a lack of ideas coming from brainstorming meetings? Newsflash: you need to stay out of them…you’re the boss and you’re the problem.

5. Get out of the way, part II. Give people room to run and they will typically run faster and further than you ever imagined. Seriously. No one loves a micro-managing control freak as a boss.

6. Expect more and you might just get it. While giving your people room to run, remember to set your expectations high, share your expectations and provide support. Prepare to be surprised.

7. How sustainable is your environment? Repeat after me: “I am responsible for creating an effective workplace environment.” If you don’t know what an effective workplace environment is, your first assignment is to figure it out. Your second assignment is to make it happen.

8. It pays to be paranoid. Everyone’s watching you. Seriously. If they are laughing or crying, something’s wrong with you. (Your leadership that is.)

9. Talk softly and back it up. Speaking of “everyone’s watching,” does your do match your tell? If not, don’t expect to be taken seriously.

10. Let someone else build the frames.  Do you know that the way you “frame” issues biases the team towards an approach. Try shutting up more and let others around you think through the issues and options first.

11. It’s not polite to point, unless… . When things go horribly wrong, your best option is to point your finger….squarely at yourself. Anything else is unacceptable.

12. Sometimes it’s OK to point! When things go wonderfully right, your only option is to point your finger at everyone around you. Anything else is unacceptable.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Get the small stuff right regularly and the big things will be a little easier to navigate.

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Art Petty is a Chicago-based management consultant focusing on strategy and leadership development. Art regularly speaks on innovation in management and leadership, and his work is reflected in two books, including the recent, Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development.  Art publishes regularly at The Management Excellence blog at https://artpetty.com

Prior to his solo career, Art spent 20+ years leading marketing sales and business units in systems and software organizations around the globe. You can follow Art on twitter: @artpetty and he can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

By | 2016-10-22T17:11:32+00:00 February 27th, 2012|Leadership, Leadership Caffeine|11 Comments

About the Author:

Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.


  1. Scott Caringella February 29, 2012 at 11:33 am - Reply


    I like your vibe. Great stuff. I believe in all your 12 shots. It seems so elementary, but the reality is, we get caught in our bubble and lose sight of the fundamentals. Keep up the great work!

    Scott Caringella
    Regional Manager
    John Deere Green Tech

    • Art Petty February 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      Scott, thanks for stopping by and for the kind words! Sometimes it’s the blocking and tackling that makes the difference. -Art

  2. Laura Bantz February 29, 2012 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    Hi, Art!
    I love the reminder to smile yet feel the need to remind professionals to be courteous is an unfortunate sign of our times. The power of the nonverbal is just tremendous and can instantly change one’s attitude as well as that of those around them. I’m a bubbly, energetic, usually happy young professional and am known by my walk. People who know me hear me coming before I arrive, but it’s a joyful announcement with the click click of my heels. The funny thing is that people regularly comment on my walk and how I’m always happy and smiling and tell me to keep it up like I’m building a skill or something. It takes us to so many topics – right person, right place, right fit – comes straight to my mind. I have just loved teaching in the field of leadership and am so glad to teach from your book and have the opportunity to work with you!

    • Art Petty February 29, 2012 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      Laura, thanks for adding in your thoughts and I can vouch for the fact that your smile and your presence impart a great warmth into every room you enter. I’m honored that you teach from my book and thrilled to work with you as well! -Art

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  4. Moira de Roche March 2, 2012 at 2:39 am - Reply

    Love this piece. I always think the best bosses are those who give you “freedom to fly”.
    And I must add, all this is only possible when you trust your emplyees – and usually when you don’t trust others it is a sure sign that you don’t trust yourself.

    • Art Petty March 2, 2012 at 10:22 am - Reply

      Moira, love the trust perspective! Thanks for stopping by. -Art

  5. Davina K. Brewer March 2, 2012 at 10:17 am - Reply

    So going to use your flip-flop twists someday; 4/5 and the point/counterpoint of 11/12, very well done.

    “Does your DO match your TELL.” Totally love it b/c it echoes my ‘more show, less talk’ – a rant I have on my TV shows as well as bad leaders. Don’t waste time telling people something, show them, DO something. Everyone applauds leadership by example; the example isn’t micromanaging, ignoring valuable input or taking credit for others’ work.. it’s by getting a job done. Like you said, people are watching so DO, act, lead. FWIW.

    • Art Petty March 2, 2012 at 10:23 am - Reply

      Davina, wish I had thought of the “do match your tell,” quote. This came out of an interview for book #1. So appropriate! And yes, leaders must model the behaviors! Thanks for stopping by and sharing! -Art

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