Effective Leadership Examples

What is right for the enterprise?


What can this employee do?


Will this make a difference?

What needs to get done?

Effective Leadership Examples

What is right for the enterprise?


What can this employee do?


Will this make a difference?

What needs to get done?



Examples of Leadership


There are many theories and models on the topic of leadership. Some say that it is both a science and an art. Others say it is someone that can create followers. Still, many say that leadership is about persuasion and influence—get things done through human resources. 


I believe it is all of these and more. Why? Because the interrelationship between leaders and followers is increasingly more complex as a result of outside influences such as emerging digital technologies and social media platforms. Today, attitudes, values, and beliefs are readily and easily shared and spoken; thus, exerting influence on business models and leader behavior.


In fact, as digital technologies continue to evolve and improve, leaders must learn new skills to effectively manage change and complexity. It is these reasons, and others, that organizations are encouraged to provide its leaders continuous training in people management and team dynamics.


The following stories are my examples of leadership-in-action based on five core values. 

RespectTake time to develop the level of trust and respect needed to create a cohesive team.


Building and maintaining trust in the workplace is very important to the overall success of an organization. Trust provides team members with a sense of security and safety. It occurs when team members can be open and honest to express themselves, without feeling judged or rejected.


To create an environment based on trust and respect, I treat others with importance, acceptance, and appreciation. For example, my sales manager, Tom, was having a difficult time changing to the new sales plan. Tom is a good employee and has been with the company for over 10 years, but prefers to stick with the status quo.


One afternoon, I invited Tom for lunch to discuss his thoughts and feelings on the new plan. I had my pen and paper and listened carefully, while he stated reasons why the old plan worked. Then, I asked him why he thought the new plan would not work. It turned out that Tom had always been working with the existing customer base—he never had to create new accounts and lacked the skills to do so. I did not blame or criticize, but instead, I recognized and understood his frustrations and uncertainties. I praised Tom for being comfortable enough to be open and honest—we both expressed a sigh of relief.


Moving forward, we worked together and designed a training plan based on SMART concepts. A few weeks later, he was feeling a greater sense of purpose, focus, and commitment. Tom was definitely excited and happy about the new sales plan; he was ready to contribute to the team’s overall success.


Our CustomerResearch customer needs and wants.


Today’s business climate is very competitive and hyper-dynamic. This is especially true if your company is a manufacturer that markets and sells highly engineered products into fragmented, pure competitive markets. Therefore, it is imperative to clearly define customer needs and wants, both on micro and macro levels.



For example, MachineTech Inc (MTI) won a $409 million government contract to build medium-duty cranes and trucks. Upon hearing the news, I scheduled a meeting with the engineering team at Motion Energy Inc (MEI) to discuss the design specs of a digital valve driver for the truck's hydraulic system. A few years ago, MTI designed and manufactured a similar controller, but for a different application, so this project was a perfect fit.


MEI's engineers stated that they needed two-working prototypes in 3 days, delivered directly to the manufacturing floor. I immediately returned to MTI and shared the good news and the challenge. I stated to the team that if we can meet this request, we most likely be awarded a 3-year, $23.7 million production contract—not surprising, I had everyone’s attention and commitment.


Within days, the prototypes were finished. In fact, we even purchased a off-the-shelf hydraulic valve and designed a functional test station. We anticipated that the engineers would want to see the valve drivers in operation and conforming to specs, before installing on the prototype truck. It was a huge success. The engineers had a heightened sense of trust and confidence in our company—we were awarded the contract the following day.     



The approach to become customer-concentric required MTI to commit resources to research and data analytics. There are many available sources that can provide key information and key insights toward the design of corporate strategies, such as a program to increase organic growth.


For example, if relations are good with an existing customer, you can meet with the manager who is responsible for demand forecasting, or meet with the manager who is responsible for new product designs. You can then ask key questions that relate to their top priorities—what do they need to achieve their goals. This shows to your customer that you value the business relationship and are eager to solve any problem that may arise.


Another valuable resource that can help to understand and anticipate customer needs are reports from public companies, such as the 10Q document. This report offers insights into a company's business model, risk factors, legal obligations, financial position, market outlook, and R&D spending. Additional sources include trade magazines, trade associations, trade shows, published surveys, scholarly articles, stock/economic reports, and many others.


I think it is very important to know as much as possible about customers and how to better deliver products and services, so they can experience the achievement and realization of their goals and objectives. When they are successful, your company will be successful too.          


CollaborationGet creative with customers and peers in general problem-solving.


Healthy communication is a two-way street. It involves listening, paraphrasing, and encouraging. To illustrate, I facilitated a group of sales engineers to reduce lead-time from 2-weeks to 3-days within a quote process.


Even though this project appears small, it can produce significant results if planned properly.


  • increase the win-rate metric by 30%

  • increase size of order by 60%

  • improve customer satisfaction and retention by 15%

  • result: add $71.8 million to year-end sales


To achieve our team's goal, I applied the following tools in order of importance:


  • project charter, value-stream mapping (current-state), brainstorming, affinity diagram, value-stream mapping (future state), timeline, and consensus.


I first motivated the team by creating a project charter, which gave a clear overview of purpose, scope, and roles. The team met twice per week, two-hours each. The quote-reduction-time project was set to complete in 6-weeks, with 1 new SOP and 1 template, as hard-copy outputs.


After first week meetings, the sales engineers came-up with the idea to develop a database of standardize pricing on standards products as a quick reference guide. After the second week, the team designed a qualification form to separate quotes based on the customers' seriousness level and a probability-to-purchase scale. This new standardize form will direct quotes based on customer intentions.

After the third week, the team felt it was very important to have the authority to call vendors on part pricing and availability (with dotted-line communications with the material manager).


Throughout the entire project, the group became a cohesive team that respected each other’s opinions and ideas. They could debate and disagree, knowing they won’t be disbarred or rejected. Their input was valued and appreciated—this created an atmosphere of creativity and innovation. At the end of the 6-weeks, the team was excited and motivated to start implementing the new quote process that they created together.


IntegrityDo what's right to help improve the quality-of-work-life.


Everyday, there are opportunities to demonstrate integrity—a persons’ moral and ethical compass, knowing right from wrong. Some examples are simple such as returning money found in the vending machine to the HR manager. Or, seeing a potential safety hazard on shop floor and reporting it immediately to the operations manager. Others examples, however, can be a little more difficult such as telling the truth to the management team about a failing project, rather than covering it up by excuses or lies. 


Integrity is about confidentially as well, by keeping certain information private, such as an employee performance review or the corporate financials. It is also about adherence, such as observing a customers’ non-disclosure agreement. Or, upholding the company policies and procedures. Leading by integrity is also about creating an environment where employees and customers can experience a sense of security and safety. For instance, my team trusts me because I’m very careful with the information that I share and discuss—I don't play the favorites game, nor do I discriminate.

My team also knows that I follow-through on my promises and agreements, and that they can rely on me during good times as well as bad times; this is a no excuse mentality. Roll-up the sleeves and solve the problem.

For example, Gary is a good sales manager; he works hard and puts in long hours—he has high expectations of himself and others. Just recently, he has been withdrawn and quiet—he appears bummed out. I was concerned and sincerely wanted to know what was troubling him, so I spoke with Gary right after the morning sales meeting. I let him know that I noticed a change and stated that I would support him in any way possible. Gary opened-up and revealed that, late yesterday afternoon, he lost one of his accounts, MTA Inc, to a competitor, RPM Inc—he felt ashamed and embarrassed that he allowed this to happen.


Over the next 2-hours, we performed a deep dive into root-cause. We listed all the reasons as to why the account was lost and we organized them onto a cause-effect diagram. There were a few compelling issues that were raised that we could not answer, so we phoned MTA Inc and spoke with the company President, Laura. She stated that her company just acquired RPM and could not release the news until finalized (which was just a few hours ago). After the phone call, Gary felt somewhat relieved, but still disappointed. I empathized with him and stated that the right thing to do was to tell me as soon as possible upon hearing the news. He said that he was going to, but first, wanted to try to understand what went wrong. I understood by acknowledging his passion for good work, but I also reaffirmed our responsibility to do what is right—we need to reveal issues that pose a risk to the organization ASAP. He agreed.                

Employee AppreciationPositively impact the people with whom we interact by applying behavioral intelligence to professionally show others we care.


Employees who experience a sense of competence, a sense of belonging, and a sense of worth from their leader and organization will excel in productivity by reflecting their positive attitudes into work-related activities—leadership is about helping others and the organization rise to high levels of potential and performance.


As a leader, it is my job to keep team members focused, to use time wisely, and to keep their morale high. Sometimes, these can be daunting tasks, since some team members do not like rejection and will resist in activities that are uncomfortable. For example, Tina is good at selling; she can easily connect with customers.


Tina, however, hates cold calling because she dislikes the word, no. In person, she can spark a conversation quickly and feels she is not bothering the prospect. This is opposite with cold calling; she thinks that sales conversations by phone are impersonal and rude. So, I held an informal and private meeting with Tina. We went to lunch and discussed ideas of what make a sales person successful in our line of business—what works and what doesn’t.


I asked if cold calling is a part of and an efficient method of selling. It was obvious that Tina was uncomfortable discussing this topic and wanted to redirect the conversation. But, I kindly pressed the subject by discussing the meaningfulness of cold calling, and from this conversation, it came apparent that all Tina needed, was training and a boost in confidence.


So, we created a plan and set a schedule, and with time and trial, she overcame her fear and mastered the art of cold calling. This example demonstrates my caring attitude and desire to see others excel and grow within the organization. By giving Tina my time, she felt a sense of importance and significance. And, by providing her with support and encouragement, she felt that I believed and trusted in her ability to learn and apply a new sales technique. So, the next time Tina encounters a roadblock, I am sure she will discover a solution and drive through it.

Hartwig Consulting


© 2019 by Kurt  H Hartwig