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Leadership lessons from a 28-time award-winning CEO

Winner of the Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards (two years in a row). Recipient of Ad Age’s Best Place to Work. Voted Entrepreneur’s Top Company Culture (also two years in a row). Ranked on Fortune’s Best Small and Medium Workplaces list (three years in a row). Glassdoor’s No. 2 Top CEO of Small and Medium Companies in the U.S. 

It seems ridiculous that one person could accomplish this all—and yet Bob Glazer can claim all the above, and then some.

We were curious what this business, culture, and performance guru had to say about leadership, so we brought him in to share his secrets—and to provide insight on the results of the 2019 People Management Report.

Read the highlights below or catch the full interview here:

Q: The report uncovered some subtle ways managers sabotage their teams. What’s your take on bad management and how have you seen it play out?

Bob: “There can be bad managers [the way we typically think of bad management], but there are also just people who aren’t good at it or don’t have the experience. We’ve even seen at our company that some people are meant to be individual contributors. They’re not meant to lead or manage. They don’t want to get to know people and are more excited about their contributions. That’s fine. But leadership is making it about the team—not about you. So, first is identifying people who are in these roles who may not want to be.

We also run into problems as a fast-growing company. We try to develop from within and grow our talent, so we have a lot of new managers. They’re flipping from being individual contributors to becoming managers. They don’t have the skills or muscles yet, so sometimes they struggle to delegate and trust their teams. But the No. 1 thing that seems to help accelerate that process is when managers establish trust, rapport, and vulnerability. Then the team is comfortable talking with them.”

Q: What are some key things you’ve done to build trust and establish an award-winning culture at Acceleration Partners?

Bob: “I might surprise people when I say this, but I think we’re a great place to work for some people and not for other people. We’re on a mission to be very authentic with who we are. The things we think are the things we say and do. Our core values are own it, embrace relationships, and excel and improve. For people who connect with those values, we’re a really great place to work. But for people who are deluding themselves that that’s what they really value, it’s not a good fit.”

Q: Your new book, “Elevate,” talks about capacity building in four areas: intellectual, spiritual, mental, and emotional. Which is most important for people managers to focus on and why?

Bob: “If you want to be a great leader, spiritual capacity is really important. You need to know your core values and what you want. It’s very hard to be an authentic leader if you don’t understand your own personal core values because those are the things that are important to you and that will be your red lines with employees. 

Intellectually, your willingness to learn, get better, and not repeat mistakes is really important. And emotional capacity is critical, too. How you relate to other people and build rapport with other people is integral to your role as a manager. If you don’t have that rapport—or know how to have a difficult conversation with an employee—it’s going to impact your effectiveness as a manager.”

Q: Why do you think so many managers struggle with team-building?

Bob: “Honestly, I think they forget. They’re into management mode—but more task management than people management. They don’t step back, get to know their people, and learn what they care about. A lot of management these days is tactical—telling people what to do and how to do it. Leadership is really helping them to achieve on their own.”

Q: Manager age and number of direct reports didn’t have an impact on manager ratings.

Bob: “I think what the data is showing is that good leadership is good leadership—and good management is good management. 

A great leader from any generation is a great leader. We need perspectives from every generation. Some people refer to this as the ‘mentor sandwich.’ There are older people who have seen and tested things they can share with younger mentors. And there’s something to learn from younger people who maybe understand technology better or have a different perspective. 

When it comes to the number of direct reports, the data shows that a good leader is a good leader—irrespective of how big their team is. Whether they have 10 people to lead or one person to lead, they do that well. You could even say that someone with a larger team may be forced to let go and learn to delegate. But what it’s showing is that it’s not about the attention, but rather about the quality.”

Grow your management skills.

Great managers never stop learning. Check out these blogs and resources to up your management game:


Thad is a senior marketing director at PI.

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