Drop the hammer and pick up the shovel

“Drop the hammer and pick up the shovel.”

—attributed to J.A. Dever

Image of a shovel full of dirt

Image from Flickr by Daniel R. Blume

If you are a student of leadership and management theory, I’m sure you are fully aware that the old school “Command and Control” Taskmaster, or in this case, “Drop the Hammer” approach to success is history.

With the intense competition for talent, organizations and their leaders must create collaborative and cooperative cultures wherein each employee can develop and contribute in a meaningful way to remain engaged. Without the side-by-side pursuit of individual and organizational achievement, many top people will seek their futures elsewhere.


Where would more of a “Pick up the Shovel,” team leader approach to people and results be just the ticket for you and your organization to thrive today, and well into the future?

We would rather have one man or woman working with us than three merely working for us

“We would rather have one man or woman working with us than three merely working for us.”

—J. Danby Day, per Forbes Magazine

Image of cast of "Who's the Boss?"

Image from Zimbio

When it comes to the subjects of leadership and management, one of my biggest pet peeves is the word “Boss.”

I find myself squirming, often downright repulsed by the idea of one person managing an individual or team through the “top-down / command-and-control” manner conveyed by this word.

My 35+ years of experience working for public and private companies have shown me that people are far more fulfilled, empowered, satisfied and successful when they work with one another rather than for others.

Because of the feeling of contributing to a community, people experience a heightened sense of impact and purpose, knowing they are truly valued.


How can you become a more masterful leader, manager, and coach in your professional and personal communities so people gravitate and look forward to working with you?

“Managers light a fire…”

“Managers light a fire under people. Leaders light a fire in people.”

—Kathy Austin, Management Consultant

Photo from freehdw.com

Photo from freehdw.com

Leadership and Management are two of the most highly valued skills necessary to be truly effective in our professional and personal lives.

I feel strongly that these skills, along with masterful communications and effective supportive coaching, are the four legs of the solid foundation of soft skills that support our success.

When asked, most professionals usually view leadership as the more “evolved” and enlightened of the two, in that leadership involves the articulation of an inspired future for an individual or group. Conversely, management—particularly old-school management—is perceived as pushy, aggressive, and often domineering, in order to achieve desired results.

I’d suggest that they can actually work together in an empowered way with inspired leadership as a foundation for effective alignment and a desirable form of self-management. This involves the individual or group sharing a strong commitment with the leaders, willingly promising to give and keep their word to take the actions necessary for eventual success.


How can you develop and master inspired leadership and empowering management capacities to move yourself and others forward, professionally and personally?

“People participate in that which they create.”

“People participate in that which they create.”
—Barry Demp

Photo from Flickr by dalioPhoto

Photo from Flickr by dalioPhoto

I’ll wager that anyone in a management or leadership position for any length of time has had the experience of bringing a new policy or program to life and finding that, despite their own enthusiasm, the rest of the team or the family are either ambivalent or outright resistant to the change.

One of the most powerful ways for business or family leaders to exact commitment from the team or family members on any project is to draw them into the plan from the start— to make it a “we” rather than “me” endeavor.

When those whose lives are impacted in some way are drawn into the development process, when they know that their insights and concerns are welcome and necessary, they participate with a sense of ownership. This is true whether they are motivated by something they want, or something they don’t want.


Consider one aspect of your professional or personal life in which you have made decisions that affect those in your department or family.  How might their participation in the decision have made a difference in the outcome?