“ATE” Ways Leaders Get Things Done


At the Winter 2015 version of the Toastmasters Leadership Institute held in District 30 Chicagoland at AT&T University today, I was present at the opening presentation by the keynote speaker Mark Brown, He gave a brief biographical sketch of how he came to the United States as an immigrant from Jamaica with $40 in his pocket and a dream of a better life.

After joining Toastmasters in 1994, he entered a speech contest and got all the way to the finals on his first try.   He engaged the 1990 World Champion of Public Speaking David Brooks to coach him for the next year’s competition, and he ended up becoming the 1995 World Champion of Public Speaking!

In the second presentation he made later on that morning, he talked about the other set of skills that Toastmasters is known for other than speaking skills, namely leadership skills.    He shared eight ways in which leaders get things wrong, and eight ways in which leaders get things right.   In both cases, the eight ways all end in the letters “A-T-E”, and that is the reason for the title of his talk which is the same title as this blog post.

Let’s start with the bad examples before we get to the good ones.

Eight Ways Leaders Get Things Wrong

  1. Manipulate—they use team members for personal gain, such as taking credit for achievements that in reality were only made possible by the members of the team
  2. Dominate—they play the tyrant and get things done by virtue of their authority alone, at the expense of eroding the relationship of trust between the leader and the members of the team
  3. Intimidate—they browbeat and discourage team members, by micromanaging them or undermining their confidence
  4. Vacillate—decisions are made rashly and sometimes reversed for no apparent reason
  5. Frustrate—subordinates are impeded when they bring up ideas for change
  6. Incapacitate—team members are hindered from doing their jobs
  7. Denigrate—they put down or belittle team membdrs
  8. Procrastinate—they put off making decisions until they hit a crisis point

Everyone in the audience was probably making a little checklist of which of their current or previous bosses fit one of these eight toxic leadership styles.    The important thing, however, is not to take the resentment you might feel in these situations if you are on the receiving end and take it out on others.

Rather, you need to break the chain and resolve not to treat team members this way when Everyone in the audience was probably making a little checklist of which of their current or previous bosses fit one of these eight toxic leadership styles.    The important thing, however, is not to take the resentment you might feel in these situations if you are on the receiving end and take it out on others.Rather, you need to break the chain and resolve not to treat team members this way when you are the leader.

Eight Ways Leaders Get Things Right

  1. Communicate
  • Clearly define tasks and responsibilities—state dates and times for deadlines
  • Explain procedures in detail
  1. Educate
  • Share your knowledge by having a clear succession plan
  • Help your team members to succeed by giving them the gift of your experience
  • It doesn’t matter who gets the prize if the team wins
  1. Delegate
  • Show people you are not alone
  • Allow subordinates to grow
  • Make sure team gets credit for successes
  1. Participate
  • Get involved, but not OVERLY involved to the point of micromanagement—be a PART, not a PEST
  • The right balance depends on the team member you are dealing with
  • Stay aware and stay “in the loop”
  1. Relate
  • Build relationships—see the person, not the role or title
  • Be approachable
  • Show understanding of the person and their circumstances
  1. Motivate
  • Tune them into WIIFM (What’s In It For Me)
  • Build confidence in your leadership by showing confidence
  • Remind them of their WHY (i.e., their passion)
  1. Appreciate
  • Be the cheerleader and team builder
  • Mark milestones with ceremony
  • Celebrate team successes and individual accomplishments
  1. Dedicate
  • See your responsibility first, not your privilege
  • Know the risks, but forge ahead anyway
  • Don’t be a manager, be a leader!

This is the bare outline of his presentation, which included examples of most of the points he was making.   It contained so many specifics about being a memorable leader that I wanted to share it with everyone!

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