Foundations of great people management

Karen Gately

Karen Gately is the author of 'The People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical guide to getting the best from people'. A highly regarded leadership and people-management specialist, Karen is the founder of Ryan Gately, an HR consulting and Leadership development practice. For more information, visit or contact

The first step toward becoming a great manager of people is taking ownership of your role. A half-hearted approach isn’t enough; success takes a full and sincere commitment to leading your team.

Taking ownership is not something anyone else can make you do; you need to want to prioritise leading and getting the best from each person on your team, every day.

Earning trust and respect is a prerequisite, a starting point from which to positively influence the thoughts, feelings, behaviours and ultimately performance of the people you lead. Ultimately your ability to influence their success is proportionate to the extent to which people are willing to let you. To inspire discretionary effort, to push people beyond their self-perceived limits, to motivate them to move forward or to step up and give things a go, you need their trust and respect.

The most important things you can do to earn the trust and respect of your team are:

  1. Lead with integrity: be honest and respectful, authentic and accessible. Operate with sincere desire to ‘do the right thing’ and lead people in ways that have a positive impact on them, their performance and the organisation.

  2. Have humility: see yourself as neither above nor more important than anyone else on your team. View yourself as playing an important role among many others on the team.

  3. Lead by example: provide the best possible example of the approach you want from others.

  4. Enable accountability: Set clear expectations and coach your team. Hold yourself and others accountable for the role you each play in creating the outcomes achieved.

  5. Be kind: have compassion and show sensitivity. Understand the people you work with and adapt your approach to get the best from them.

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