As the UK adventure comes to a close, there are many things to reflect on. This week while having dinner with a friend, we talked about what makes a great leader and manager. Over the last 2 years I have learned many valuable business lessons that I will take with me, with these 5 being the ones that ‘stick out’ the most:

  • Better to be red faced once than pink a thousand times:  This was taught to me by a woman whom I have an immense amount of respect for, Martha Bejar. We were talking about having to deliver tough messages, whether on a business loss or a bad forecast. Her logic was quite simple, get the bad news out there – all of it – once, and then get everyone focused on solving the problem. That is much better than what I saw way too often, the drip feeding of bad news up the line because people were afraid of the ramifications. I agree 1000%, get the truth out there, take my lumps and then let’s get solving the problem. I would add ‘good news should travel fast, bad news even faster!’
  • It is easy to be a bully:  When I think about a bully I think of words like disrespectful, always has to have his own way, doesn’t listen and self centeredness – it is all about him. As a leader, the easiest thing to do is to bully your way through situations but it is not the most successful. It leaves people resentful, creates a climate of fear and eventually, it fails. Respect diversity of opinion – creating an open and honest team climate, trust people to do the right things, vary your leadership style, invest in the success of others – not yourself (servant leadership) and exemplify the behaviour that you want to see in the others around you at all times.
  • Never compromise your values:  This one is pretty simple. There is no room for ethical or moral compromise. And if you feel that your leader is making you compromise what you truly believe in, leave.
  • Walk the talk:  If you espouse a leadership virtue as one of your core tenants, then you better walk the talk. There was an article on the turn around of the company ABB and their leader that demonstrates this point well (don’t remember where I read it). The story was about how the company was downsizing and making radical cost cuts. The leadership team was heading to a meeting and the majority of the VPs were sitting in business class. The CEO walked on and as they all watched, he walked past them into economy class, without a word. Walk the talk.
  • Invest in the success of others and you will be successful:  I learned this lesson as a sales rep and have carried it through my management career. If you focus on what will make your customer, partner or teammate successful, then when they succeed – you succeed. As a leader, I always remember, it isn’t about me – it is about the people on the team. If I focus on making each and every single one of them successful, then my success is guaranteed.

I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to have worked with and learn from so many amazing people in the UK. In the end, I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity and it has changed me forever. So my last lesson is …call it the ‘bonus lesson’:

  • Always say thank-you.



  1. Hi Michael, It has been great knowing you and your family whilst you were living in the UK and working for Microsoft..I’d like to say thanks for all the help and support you provided to Rackspace . The genuine friendship you showed me personally also means a lot, so I really do hope our paths cross again in the future…..Warmest regards, Brian Garvey

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