Tom Rainey

Cultivating Leadership Skills with Patrick Veroneau


Being a good leader in a business setting is much more than having the title of “boss” or “manager”. But what makes a good leader? How can you gauge the success and simultaneously the shortcomings of your leadership? Leadership advisor and coach Patrick Vereoneau has the answers to these questions and many more. If you’re ready to be the best leader you can possibly be, start here.

How can you gauge the success or shortcomings of your leadership?

I have often said that a mirror can be the best leadership tool available when one takes the time to look at the reflection their behaviors have on those that follow them. In my work, I refer to a model called CABLES which focuses on six effective leadership behaviors necessary to inspire others to follow. Each of the behaviors in CABLES plays a role in building strong relationships with those that follow you. Looking in the mirror, one can ask themselves, “Are my behaviors adding or removing cables from the strength of my leadership?”

A more formal approach a leader can undertake is to participate in a 360 review. This is when a group of peers and direct reports fill out an anonymous questionnaire rating the leader on a pre-defined set of leadership behaviors and a coach then works with the leader to evaluate the responses and establish a development plan to improve their leadership impact.


What makes good conflict in the workplace?

Conflict is vital to the health of an organization’s culture. Unfortunately, most people have experienced conflict that is unproductive because it has involved people attacking each other rather than attacking the problems that need to be solved. Effective listening is one of the keys to achieving productive conflict and is the “L” in the CABLES model.

Effective listening requires one to listen intently to the words and tone that a person is communicating as well as their body language when they are speaking. Effective listening with CABLES also requires listening with curiosity and with empathy.

Listening with all four approaches provides the best opportunity to understand what the true nature of the conflict is while providing the speaker with a belief that the listener is not just listening to respond but is listening to understand. This approach encourages collaboration and that’s good conflict.


How can you activate reciprocity as a leader?

I had the opportunity to participate in a small group certification on the principles of influence with Dr. Robert Cialdini several years ago. In his research, he identified six influence principles that can be used to ethically persuade others. Reciprocity was identified as the first principle in his research.

The easiest way to activate reciprocity is to consistently demonstrate reciprocity toward others first. That means regularly recognizing others when they do something for you and looking for ways to “return the favor.” The more you sincerely do for others, the more they will want to do for you.


What can you do as a leader to make your team feel safe and respected?

Creating an environment that is psychologically safe is the responsibility of the leader. Without this safety and organization can’t reach its full potential.

Practicing “intentional vulnerability” is an important first step in building a safe environment. This occurs when the leader can say things to the team such as, “I made a mistake”, “I am sorry”, “I am struggling”, “I don’t have the answer”, or “What do you think?”. When a leader has the courage to say these things to their team, it demonstrates their humility and encourages a culture where people can be open and honest with each other.

Modeling the cable of Listening discussed earlier is also an effective way to encourage safety and respect.


Why is appreciation for your team such an important aspect of effective leadership?

I once heard a tagline from a trophy company that said, “Recognition doesn’t cost, it pays”. This is one hundred percent accurate and there is endless research to prove it. I use a model called RPM’s to help my clients remember to consistently recognize others. It stands for Recognizing Positive Moments.

There are three keys that can help your efforts to recognize not be seen as an insincere approach to manipulate the other person. First, have the recognition be unexpected.

This means that there is not a pattern where Thursday is recognition day. Second, make sure your reignition is specific. Don’t just tell someone they did a good job; tell them specifically what they did that was so good. Third, make it meaningful. Find out how people like to be recognized and deliver that way. When sincere, it is difficult to recognize people too much. Great leaders know this.

What is your advice on carving out time to work on team development within an already busy schedule?

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” Leadership and team development should not be viewed as “nice to haves,” but rather “need to haves.”

We often hear employees referred to as a company’s most valuable asset. If this is true, then a company should make every effort to insure it is protecting its most valuable asset. That is done through development focused on providing resources for intellectual, emotional, and physical growth.

Given today’s environment of increased remote work and isolation, the need for time devoted to personal and team development is critical.


How do you think remote work has affected team structures?

While there have been many benefits to remote work, there are challenges that this new structure presents around promoting collaboration and culture.

There is value to the “water cooler” because it provided an opportunity for unstructured conversations and collaboration among colleagues. A remote environment currently does not provide the same spontaneity.

I believe those organizations that explore ways to blend the benefits of a brick and mortar environment with the freedom that remote work provides many employees can provide greater long term advantages to the cultural health of an organization.


How can leaders adapt to a virtual setting?

Virtual selling provides an opportunity for leaders to provide more value in a more structured environment.

I have found that it is more challenging to keep people’s attention in a virtual setting. As a result, it has required presenters to be more efficient with their time and more concise with their message.

To maintain a customer’s attention in a virtual setting requires much more focus on providing value to the customer. They are trading a non-renewable resource with you: their time. If you find a way to make them feel as though it was worth their investment you will have adapted successfully.


What is the benefit of seeking outside help to improve team culture?

I have worked with organizations that have had dedicated departments focused on individual, team and organizational development because they have recognized the value an outside perspective can provide. My work is often a collaborative effort with internal HR or OD specialists.

Regardless of how “safe” someone feels within the organization, there is still a deep drive we have for self-preservation, which can be compromised when people are too honest and fear they will put their careers in jeopardy.

As an “outsider”, I provide an opportunity to observe a team from a different perspective and I get to share that perspective in a way that doesn’t risk anyone’s career aspirations.

While a team might be experiencing a challenge for the first time, I may have already experienced it a dozen times in other organizations and can use that experience to help the team find ways to effectively navigate through their issues.


What are some of your favorite leadership development resources?

I love reading about the Stoics as it relates to values and overcoming challenges. I also spend a great deal of time reading books and research articles in the areas of habit and goal formation, influence, emotional intelligence, wellbeing, mindfulness as well as biographies. The bottom line is that to lead effectively requires continuous learning in a variety of areas.

If you are not continually learning how to improve as a leader, eventually you will not have followers, regardless of your title.