LeeAnne Linderman learned a lot about leadership from two starkly different people: her dad and a very gruff boss.

Linderman recalls sitting at the dinner table listening to her dad rave about his employees. Though he occasionally talked of new sales, what made the strongest impression on Linderman was the pride he had in the young people around him.

"What I heard in his voice was that it was all about others-it was not about you," she says. "When you're a good leader you can create success, but you can't do everything yourself. You do it through others."

Then there was one of her first bosses. His manner was very harsh, and Linderman felt like he routinely singled her out for chastisement.

One day she overheard him impatiently question a colleague about her whereabouts, to which the colleague exploded at his brusque treatment of Linderman.

"He then told her, 'I am rough on her because she has yet to realize the leader she can be in this company, and I will continue to be rough on her until she accepts the leadership role she was meant for.'"

Linderman eventually went to him for mentoring. But the most valuable lesson she took away from the experience is one he likely did not intend: how not to manage people.

She uses a more gentle approach to help employees improve, so as not to kill productivity. Instead of jumping right into unsolicited feedback, she outright asks if they would like help reaching their potential.

"I ask them if they would like to join me in the journey of developing their skills."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.