The Leaders Advisory Blog

To unite the two most crucial parts of business: the results that come, and the people who create them.


By Tony Walmsley

Most managers gain promotion based on a proven skill set, or performance in subject matter expertise, then often wonder how they got there. The starting point to effective leadership is to understand how your personal psychology affects your own performance and your ability to manage others. In that order. Managing others before you know yourself is an all too common pitfall.

Impostor syndrome is one version of this, but it is easier to define it in most cases as being recognised for what you do rather than for who you are. Your’e good at something, but so what? People connect with who you are being. Are you good enough? Experiencing the “Loneliness of Command” is a significant challenge to overcome.

Each of us has our own natural management style. If we want to become more effective, more consistent, decisive, and mature, we need to understand our own personal psychology and how it affects our management decisions and approach.

Some say leaders are born, not made. That means, by definition, others don’t agree. What cannot be argued, is that good managers are found across the personality spectrum. There is no personality type with the monopoly on good management.


How many great managers and leaders have you worked with? How many do you, on reflection, remember as being not so great, or worse?

I have experienced both and managed successfully, and faced huge and complex challenges over my career in business and football. I work with many people, each of them unique and each identifying in their own lives a testament to the theory that life’s greatest lessons are found in the struggle. I concur.

The key is to understand how your personality affects your management style and make it work for you, not against you. This is applied learning and provides a foundation for understanding each member of staff better, using the same methodology.

This works in all forms of coaching, leading and relationship management, and can be applied to family and other personal relationships to great effect. When you add purpose to the skill set, you start to create a different level of connection.

Management is really tough. People are complex and what works with one person, could be the worst thing to do with another. Even the most experienced managers can benefit from a little help. 

When you understand more about a staff member’s personal psychology and how it affects them at work, it becomes relatively easy to adjust your approach. This is not about labels or putting them in boxes. It’s about acceptance of uniqueness and having the flexibility to make it work.

When you adopt a non-anxious, non-judgmental approach (CALM methodology) and find the way that works for individuals, you will surpass most leaders on the planet.

Disengagement, poor performance and wellbeing occur over time. Small increments of friction and tension accumulating stress, often unspoken and unseen. The fix? Small adjustments that move the needle the other way, increasing your management effectiveness with any given individual.

How To Help New Managers With Their Team From Day One 


I just got my dream promotion! Let’s celebrate!

It’s very challenging for a new manager to step into a role where they do not know any of the existing staff. When a manager is appointed from outside the organisation, they need to get to know each staff member as quickly as possible. The question for organisations is how?

How do you assess the right fit?

How do you recognise self-awareness and a propensity for self-improvement?

How do you measure how quickly relationships with all types of people can be built?

How do you identify historical proof of attributable team dynamics improvement?

How do you predict how future performance will improve?

Clearly, when new managers are brought in with this level of clarity, when you nail it, the spotlight shines on existing and more established managers. The performance demand increases, in line with the opportunity to learn and develop.

When the dial shifts quickly, retained staff either get pulled forward or get left behind. Understanding the impact of change becomes critical to providing support, in context. When this is done well, competitive advantage is almost guaranteed.

Helping people follow a process of self-development and role alignment will extract latent potential by enabling individual strengths to shine. Turning insight into action adds value through gains in engagement, productivity, mental health and customer satisfaction. People matter.

The right profiling tool is an enabler that provides new leaders with insight into their people that would not be available to them even, if they had worked with them for years.

How To Help Managers Motivate Staff 

For every football manager who threw teacups in anger at half time, it will come as no surprise that different personality types respond very differently to this style of approach. Likewise, the ‘nice guy’ will, by some, be deemed unsuitable for management. For others, it works.

These are broad brush strokes, as people are complex and unique, and what drives them is also unique. Even when two people have similar drivers and profiles, there will be nuanced variations in how much energy is consumed in different states and under different circumstances. Seven billion variations and counting.

People are motivated in different ways. What motivates one person may demotivate another. This is the challenge of management. This is what makes a manager’s job so difficult. Leaders simply have to get this.

It’s about top down, bottom up, outside to in and the communications skills that go along with that. It is complex, but there are two essential elements to consider:

1.       Understand what motivates each individual team member

2.      Adapt your own approach for optimum impact

As the leader the responsibility is yours. Understanding how to apply simple methodology in these two areas can transform and embed performance improvement. The responsibility is empowering.

How To Help Managers Manage Performance

Handling challenging conversations, when behaviour needs addressing is difficult and rarely relished by management. When staff 1 to 1’s are due, especially when they have been measured and scored by an archaic system, understandably, this is tough. Defensiveness is the start point and this is not a good place to start.

The consequence of avoidance, a lack of congruence, or even transparency can lead to disengagement of both parties. It can lead to people quitting. It can lead to anxiety. Unnecessary stress.

In reality, it is a common and recurring theme that requires careful preparation and astute handling. Most managers are poor at it, avoid it where possible, and would rather it just go away. Made simpler, this facet of workplace dynamics can be enhanced effectively and quickly.

There is certainly a skill to be learned in having difficult conversations, however, understanding the individual psychology in play goes a very long way to moving the issue, and the relationship, forward in the best way possible.

Any approach to disciplinary matters, or challenging situations in general, needs context to know what approach will work best with each of the people involved. If leaders are skilled at reducing a defensive response, alignment can be gained, and motivation increased.

The High Performance Leader and High Performance Team profile reports combine applied psychology and the latest technology to provide actionable insight into who you need to be to get the most out of yourself and others under various degrees of pressure.

  • Empowerment
  • Motivation
  • Discipline

These are common challenges for managers. Learning first how to come out of challenging situations unscathed, disengagement can be reversed as individuals and teams grow in confidence with increased capability.

People can quickly transform passive disengagement into motivation and most likely, those people are under your roof right now.

People are complex. With the right tools that provide actionable insights, in language that people can respond to, leaders can develop the non-anxious presence essential to improving performance step by step, one individual at a time. The modern workplace demands it.

The Leaders Advisory is a Performance Coaching and Leadership Development organisation that uses applied psychology to help companies improve their engagement, productivity, and wellbeing. Tony Walmsley, founder is a Performance Coach and Profiling Specialist with a 30-year history as a business leader, professional football manager and coach educator.

Written by Tony Walmsley