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Unleashed E55: David Kline - The Manager’s Playbook

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Most first-time managers fail. This is costly for organizations. However, with the right playbook, managers can improve their chances of success, and better recruit, engage, and develop their people.

In this episode, Dave Kline shares his management playbook and describes how it can improve the odds of having successful managers and leaders in your organization.

Actions You Can Take Right Now

  1. Arm your new managers with a success playbook – a set of skills that includes coaching, delegation, recruiting, and self-reflection.
  2. Recognize that not everyone wants to be a manager. Ensure there is a career path for high-performing individual contributors.

  3. Experiment with potential new managers before formally moving them to a new role.

View or listen to this and other past episodes on the Unleashed Podcast Library

Episode Highlights and Excerpts

  • Dave’s expertise in leadership spawned from a need to improve himself when he became the manager of 25 people. Using his engineering approach, he wanted to create a recipe, a playbook, for being good at it. He wanted practical steps, not theory.
  • The Dave Kline management playbook includes the following elements:
    • Keep your identity; you don’t have to become someone else. Be yourself!
    • Formalize your process for self-reflection and seek feedback from those around you.
    • Avoid problem solving – this can lead to micromanagement.
    • Follow a proven delegation process. It takes courage to delegate because it involves letting go of control. But understand that delegation is the only way to increase capacity and capability in the organization.
    • Become a great coach. This includes setting clear, measurable expectations, and tracking performance. Don’t just provide feedback but get agreement on gaps with the employee and find ways to close those gaps. Clearly agree on what good performance looks like.
    • Learn how to recruit great people. Most people confuse recruiting with hiring. Recruiting includes hiring but also needs to include thinking about talent needs 12-18 months in the future and starting to build relationships with potential candidates long before the role is available. This is called a virtual bench.
  • Management done well IS good leadership. A manager must move from simply doing management tasks to leading by inspiration and development of their people.
  • 60% of new managers fail, and it turns out many of them didn’t really want the job in the first place. This is expensive, and companies need to find ways to improve the odds of new managers being successful.
  • Not everyone wants to be a manager. Ensure there is a career path for high-performing individual contributors.
  • One way help identify potential managers is to run experiments by giving potential future leaders management opportunities before formally promoting them to management.
  • Autonomy matters, and is valued by employees, but only when objectives are unmistakably clear.
  • It’s not just managers who are responsible for clear objectives. Employees too should seek clarity. If expectations are not clear, probe to get that clarity.
  • Leadership is contextual within a culture. Not all leaders will thrive in every organization. That’s why it’s important for organizations to codify and write down their definition of culture and values.

Take Your Business to the Next Level 

At Results we care about your success, we understand how overwhelming it can feel to run a business, and we’re here to help. Reach out to Nicole through our contact form for ways to unleash the potential of your business. 

Visit the Unleashed Podcast Library where you’ll find exclusive conversations with world-class thought leaders, authors, and leadership experts. 

Each episode of Unleashed is hosted by Results’ CEO Jeff Tetz who spends most of his day exploring what makes high performers tick and helping build a community of leaders who want to learn and grow together. Follow Jeff (Twitter; LinkedIn; Instagram) for more great leadership insights.

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David Kline

David Kline headshot

Dave Kline is a former Chief Operating Officer of several different divisions at Bridgewater Associates, the worlds largest hedge fund with over $200M of assets under management headed by Ray Dalio, whose book Principles is a must read.

Many are fascinated by his career pivot as he successfully transitioned out of the high stress world of high finance, and is currently the owner of Skillscouter, a website that helps people find the best courses for upskilling their abilities. Dave also teaches cohort classes for growing managers. Having hired, trained and managed hundreds of high performers in the high stakes jobs of finance, Dave has seen it all, and he’s codified his management principles in what he calls the Management Accelerator.