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May 21, 2013 / mike54martin

Some Things Every Leader Should Know


There are many great books on leadership in the workplace but one I really like is Change-Friendly Leadership: How to Transform Good Intentions into Great Performance by Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan. He has a PhD in organizational communications from Purdue University and has worked with dozens of high level leaders including CEO’s of major corporations, two U.S. presidents and three senators. His work has focused on leadership, human performance, and the strategic management of change thereby helping individuals, companies and organizations learn, grow and develop leadership capacity.

He has a number of suggestions for managers to improve and strengthen their leadership skills and abilities, some of which are familiar but some are quite surprising, and refreshing. His first is that in order to gain power in an organization you have to relinquish some control and let others take the lead from time to time. When you do that your leadership team expands, you get the best advice and can make the best decisions. And while the glory is dispersed sometimes so too is the blame when things go wrong.

Duncan is also a great advocate for developing good listening skills as a top priority for anybody who wants to be a good executive or manager. This includes a favourite of mine, active listening, which involves using all of your senses to listen and learn from the challenges and successes of others. It also means being open to hearing from everybody in the room and all opinions in the organization, especially before making big decisions.

The other thing I like about Duncan and his book is that he isn’t afraid of dealing with the tough stuff and he encourages managers to stop burying their heads in the sand and to deal with the elephants in the room. This means not only naming the big problem that nobody wants to talk about, but creating a safe environment so that people can also talk about how to deal with it.

But top on my list of what leaders should know and Rodger Dean Duncan talks about this in his book is to know what you don’t know. Too many of us, myself including, like to think of ourselves as experts on a wide range of subjects, and some of that may be true. But the reality is that none of us have all the answers and we could all use some help and other ideas from time to time. So know what you don’t know and be open to suggestions

This post first appeared on my blog at

Mike Martin is a writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.

He is also the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. The latest book is The Body on the T .

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