NCET Biz Tips: Stop managing and start leading

Rob Gaedtke

Rob Gaedtke

Some may argue semantics here, but I think there is a sound argument in ditching the word manage altogether when it comes to describing a boss. Guide, support, challenge, lead… All of these words hold more relevance in a modern workplace than “manage” does. You’re in control of somebody’s future, their salary, their growth. And it is important to recognize that it can't be managed—only developed and supported. Doing that requires more than a set of rules or cause-and-effect guidelines. In fact, it requires a clear understanding of your employee’s hopes, dreams, goals (both personal and professional)—hell, even their kids’ names.

It’s a hard job being a leader, and I don’t pretend to have all of the answers, but in my experience, I know these eight responsibilities matter.

  • Keep ‘em growing… keeping ‘em learning
    • And know that 8 out of 10 times, what they need growth in has nothing to do with their job.
  • Any and all issues are welcome
    • And if they ever go around you or over you…don’t blame them, it’s you that is doing something wrong.
  • Be real and give instant feedback
    • Instant means instant… it means staying after a meeting and delivering it right then or pulling someone aside to call out the action in the moment. And in case this isn’t clear, good feedback can be in front of people, bad feedback can never be.
  • Provide timely and thoughtful reviews
    • Reviews should be meaty and filled with sound insight and rich examples. It should also have real quotes, good and bad, from co-workers.
  • Always know their goals
    • Both professionally and personally. And create a roadmap to help them get there!
  • You have to follow along
    • You can’t guide what you don’t see — and you can’t see what you don’t know. Give them advice on how to help them and their work improve.
  • Their hard work is valued. Prove it with cash.
    • A manager will think about time, progress, title and when all are in alignment, a raise will be given. A leader will see value and reward it as soon as it is felt.
  • Sometimes firing them is the most noble thing to do
    • Good leaders know when to help their team find a “new” team, and they won't hurt the rest of the team by waiting longer than necessary.

Be intentional in your role, and put your full effort into each employee. Talk to any leader, and they’ll tell you about their first boss, their favorite boss, or their least favorite boss as well as all the skills and lessons that made them the leader they are today. You have an impact on your employees. Take that responsibility seriously.

Want to learn more about the difference in managing versus leading your team? About being a real leader and not a stereotypical manager? Come to NCET’s Biz Bites on Aug. 24 at the Reno-Tahoe Convention Center. More info at I hope to see you there.
Rob Gaedtke is President and CEO of KPS3 – a high-functioning branding agency, veteran PR firm, and innovative digital shop (not to mention a 5x winner of “best places to work”). Rob has nearly two decades of building, growing, and leading teams from junior to senior, small to a 60+ multidiscipline agency. He is also a husband, father, climber, board member of the Children’s Cabinet, and member of the County managers advisory council, the Reynolds School of Journalism advisory council, TMCC Business School advisory council and the School of Social Workers deans advisory council. Rob’s personal vision is to “do amazing things,” which he pushes his team to do every day.
NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that helps people explore business and technology. (


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment