Good Manners make Great Leaders – Phil Crenigan

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I have recently being reviewing 8 years of work in my coaching practice in order to constantly refine what makes great leaders great and how we can help those who aspire to be a great leader.In reviewing over 80 case studies involving individuals or teams who I have developed a deep relationship with over this time, an interesting pattern emerged from the many 360 degree feedback reviews I went through to understand what attracts followship from others.

What are the right actions and behaviours for leaders that build engagement, commitment, trust and discretionary effort from others and what are the actions and behaviours that do not? Then I googled good manners in the Thesaurus and all of the data became very clear. Great Leaders have great manners and less gifted leaders who are struggling or creating chaos around them, do not.

In the Thesaurus there are 204 synonyms ( words or phrases that mean exactly or nearly the same) as good manners and 604 antonyms (words or phrases that describe the opposite of good manners) .All of these words were  included in hundred’s of the 360 reviews I went through and directly related to the relative strengths and areas for development of the respective case studies. Here is a brief sample :

Synonyms for good manners


dignity/generosity/humility/respect/accepted conduct/enlightenment/ training/upbringing/appreciation/praise/listener

Antonyms for good manners  




I have experienced both ends of the spectrum through many client interventions and I know who makes the best leaders. Good manners typify the essence of the servant leader as these actions and behaviours are centred in others not one’s self . Most importantly they create extraordinary trust, belief and followship around them as a consequence of the behavious they demonstrate every day.They do consistently deliver extraordinary results from people because the people are made to feel extraordinary.

I have been lucky to meet, work with or for some astonishingly gifted leaders in my life both in a former international career and as an executive coach. They have different signature strengths but they all possess great manners and have my admiration and respect because they treat others as they would expect to be treated.There are also a few leaders in name only at the other end of the spectrum who are permanently cast into the dustbin of life, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

If you need a little help in brushing up your manners , do reach out. As always look forward to comments and stories if this resonated.

Phil Crenigan

Sydney, August 2017