Blast from the past: Age old pearls of wisdom that’ll boost your management potential

A friend and colleague approached me to ask that I write a blog entry on management, and how I manage my team; the techniques and tricks that I employ that help me get the job done. Initially, I was quite apprehensive as to how to go about analyzing what I do and then formulating catchy, thought-provoking pearls of wisdom for the average manager to employ.


I took a step back to determine what actually governs my approach, and realized that there isn’t a lot of new ideas or principles that I utilize in my day to day management of my team. I usually revert to my core belief system to try to be as fair, considerate, consistent and responsible as I can in my role. To lead by example and be someone that my team can trust and count on.

So, I have decided to focus on the some of the key core beliefs that govern me as an individual, as these are the principles that I use to lead my team. These are biblical proverbs that I believe hold true and can help anyone be a better manager. I tried to narrow these down as best as I could and found it was not surprising that many of these speak directly to your own conduct as a leader.

Your own self

“One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”

Most of the people I lead are more talented than myself, and I can only be successful in my position when they are performing well. Management of the team is all about the team and very little about me or my ability.

“Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall”

Integrity, in my opinion, is one of the most important parts of being a leader. People need to be able to trust you and the best way to show this is doing what you say you will do.

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

We all make mistakes – when we make these, we should be the first to admit them to our team. They are smart enough to see the mistakes, so as a leader you should be smart enough to admit them.

 “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

This one ties directly with the previous. At the end of the day, your name and who you are is more important than the position that you hold.

“Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good.”

I believe that this one speaks directly to consistency as a leader. You can’t measure team members with an unequal scale. Sure, your leadership style will have to vary, but good work and issues should be dealt with in the same way.

 “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”

As a leader, one needs to remain calm and consider carefully their actions. Our words do have power and can help make or break the people that work under and with us. We should always be rational and considerate. We should understand an entire situation before we make any rash decisions.

Decision making

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”

In a management or leadership position, we need to be responsible and diligent in our duties. Acting hasty can really affect team members or technical issues in a negative way.

“Without counsel, plans fail, but with many advisers, they succeed.”

Leaders aren’t there to be the sole authority on decisions. We are typically surrounded by talented individuals who have a great deal of technical understanding, that have very relevant contributions to make in these areas.

“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.”

This one just reinforces the above.

 Dealing with your team

“Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.”

We all make mistakes. We should be working to grow ourselves and provide value to our employers. Sometimes this means that others need to point out our areas of improvement. Always telling someone they are “doing great”, will only enforce a negative behavior or cause someone to miss an opportunity to grow in experience.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

While some might take the previous proverb to the extreme, we need to have balance in how we provide “constructive criticism” and how we encourage others in more positive forms. Knowing when to apply differing feedback is important.

“With patience, a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break bone.”

I believe we should always have patience and consideration in our dealings with others. I believe that this positive approach is (in majority cases) the best approach to help others achieve.

“For lack of wood, the fire goes out, and where there is no whisper, quarreling ceases.”

Plain and simply put – don’t gossip about your team, other teams or your company in general. This is a tough one that I believe we all struggle with.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Let’s start with qualifying that I don’t see my team as a bunch of children.

I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in the hiring and induction of all the team members in my team, barre one, who I “inherited” from another team. It has been a great joy for me to help train and mentor each of these individuals (not to say that I’m solely responsible for their current abilities: I believe they learned a lot from others and also just from their own talents). When my team operates in a way that I approve of, without any input from me, it is very rewarding, I like to think that some of it is fruit from the sowing of knowledge/experience that I helped with those years and months ago.

“Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.”

I see my team as a high performing team. I’ve seen more stress/damage/demotivation creep in from members that are not contributing than any other factor (I believe). This proverb ties in quite well with where we started this section – sometimes “rebuke” is required in order to protect the entire team and team dynamic.

Building your team

“Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.”

I thought this way quite a good transition from the last section on dealing with your team. We take a great deal of time and effort to ensure that we hire great people. Every now and then we don’t get this 100% right.  I’d advise any manager to take their time understanding what kind of person they are looking for and taking the time to find that person.

 Communication with and in your team

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

We all know these people (sometimes I wonder if I am one!), we need to remember to listen (not just hear) others!

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

Wow! How true is this particular proverb, we need to remember to always give an encouraging word where we can. This life is about so much more than our 8-to-5, so we should be seeing where we can make a difference to someone’s day.

“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

I believe that what we say (and how we say it) is really important. With each thing that we say, our integrity is at stake. As leaders (in whatever area you may be a leader), we have the power to (in some way) give life or break a spirit. Be consistent, encourage and, where it is necessary, guide or correct with grace.

“Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips.”

I mentioned in my previous comment that with each thing we say, our integrity can be at stake. We should be honest with everything that we say. Especially as leaders.

Are you a manager or someone who leads a team in your business? Let us know if you have any proverbs or quotes that help you be a better leader, in the comments below.