If you’ve ever found it difficult to get the results you want from other people, try this simple management technique

Like many founders, when I started my first business, I was new to managing people. I loved getting stuff done and getting my hands dirty, so the idea of delegating work to others was unnatural. I’d always rather do it myself.

When I did have to delegate, it often left me feeling frustrated. I’d find out later that the work hadn’t turned out as I’d expected, or it wasn’t even close to completion. I took it personally, and it weighed on my mind. I felt that if I wanted something done right, I had to do it myself. …


Facts tell but stories sell. The following storytelling techniques will transform your pitch narrative from flat to fantastic.

Do you know the most effective way to present your business idea? I’m not talking about what to include in a pitch. I’m talking about how to deliver it. Presenting to an investor (or a group of investors) is a different kettle of fish to writing the deck and it comes with its own set of challenges.

If you’d been in one of my earliest pitches, you’d have seen me talking through each slide, simply paraphrasing the information on the screen — a bit like a newscaster reading a teleprompter. And something wasn’t clicking. You know that feeling you get…


Why OKRs often fail in startups — and how to use them effectively before product-market fit

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) were designed in the context of scaling companies, such as Intel and Google. They’ve become the undisputed best practice of managing teams in almost all settings. But they can be challenging to implement, especially if a company hasn’t reached product-market fit.

Leadership teams can often end up with a large number of metrics that dilute focus. Objectives are routinely confused with tasks and initiatives, which fail to clarify what’s important. And long planning cycles make them hard to adapt to fast-changing assumptions.

Should startups just abandon OKRs and stick to regular sprint planning?

If this…


A practical guide for managers and their direct reports

How effective are your one-on-ones?

Most managers will say theirs are great. However, one study has shown that employees often leave one-on-ones less motivated than their managers. That concerns me.

Typical one-on-ones are 30 to 60-minute meetings between teammates and their managers to help the teammate achieve their goals. By this definition, short status updates don’t qualify as one-on-ones. But conversations about well-being do, so they’re certainly worth including in any effective one-on-one.

Even though one-on-ones focus on the teammate’s success, both parties benefit from the meeting. …

Thoughtful, empathetic language can make or break your business relationships

“We are dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave, think, and feel.”―Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication

As a founder, my biggest regrets revolve around not having difficult conversations sooner. I could have helped team members improve faster, fired people with the wrong fit earlier, had so many more productive meetings. I could have created a more open company culture.

I was guilty of making excuses: It will sort itself out; they’ll eventually stop doing it; there are more important things to focus on. Of course, delaying these conversations always made things worse. …


Successful strategy sessions tend to follow a common arc.

Most leadership teams come together for at least a few days each year to meet up as a team, align on the business strategy, and collaborate on the company’s biggest challenges. These meetings are often held offsite, as physical distance from day-to-day operations can make it easier to see the bigger picture.

The pressure to deliver something tangible can make setting the agenda an intimidating task. There are many topics you could discuss and alignment can seem a long way away. How can you make the best use of your team’s problem-solving abilities and arrive at something concrete?

I’ve created…


If you struggle with holding people to account, try this.

Being held to account for our decisions, actions, and results can drive high performance. It helps clarifies our commitments, increases our diligence, and improves our self-awareness.

Most of us report to someone. For CEOs, it’s a board of directors. For others, it’s their manager or their coach. But despite all our reporting structures, real accountability is elusive for many teams.

Why Accountability Slips

The main reason accountability isn’t held is because holding people to account feels confrontational for both the report and the manager.

For the report, answering a barrage of questions can feel like an inquisition. Top performers often spend time predicting…


It’s easier than you might think

One of the hardest parts of the journey from founder to CEO is to let go of the details. It’s as painful as slowly pulling hot wax off their legs (or so I assume — I haven’t waxed my legs recently).

However, there is a simple way for CEOs to speed up the process, and metaphorically rip themselves from daily operations with minimal pain.

Take a two-week vacation.

‘Absolutely impossible,’ I hear them say. ‘The company will fall apart!’ And, of course, what happens next is quite predictable.

The CEOs begin to burn out and eventually have to accept that…


Committing to an action isn’t enough

Here’s the scenario. You’re coaching a colleague in a one-on-one meeting and they commit to an action you both agree needs to happen. Although this is the last step in the ‘GROW’ model of coaching, you have a niggling feeling that they’re not going to follow through.

What can you do to increase the chances they follow through?

Many people instinctively reach for incentives, i.e., carrots and sticks. However, as I’ve written before, extrinsic motivators can backfire. But there’s an underestimated technique that can increase rates of follow-through, and that is to ask visualisation questions.

A visualisation question is one that forces someone to simulate doing the task in their mind…


A consult-first approach to empowered decision-making.

There are basically four ways to take a decision:

  • By command — a decision is made by an individual without consultation
  • By consultation — a decision is made by an individual after consulting other group members
  • By consensus — a group decision is made once everyone agrees
  • By counting votes — a group decision is made by majority (like a democracy)

Group decisions may sound like a good idea, but what often emerges are compromises, with no passionate owner. ‘Decision by consensus’ is slow, and ‘Decision by counting votes’ quickly becomes political.

On the other hand, empowering individuals also sounds…

Dave Bailey

CEO coach to Series A+ founders, 3X venture-backed founder, angel investor, author of The Founder Coach ->

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