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Summary: When They Win, You Win: Being a Great Manager Is Simpler Than You Think by Russ Laraway

Key Takeaways

  • Do you want to be a great manager and leader who creates happy, engaged, and productive teams? If so, you need to read this book by Russ Laraway, a veteran manager who has worked at some of the most successful companies in the world. In this book, he reveals his three simple rules for effective management that will help you achieve your goals and make a positive difference in your organization.
  • Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the best managers in the business. Get your copy of When They Win, You Win: Being a Great Manager Is Simpler Than You Think by Russ Laraway today and start applying his proven methods to your own team. You won’t regret it!

When They Win, You Win (2022) is your guide to being a great manager. This playbook reveals the simple leadership principles that unlock your employees’ full potential, create happy, engaged teams, and drive better business results.

Introduction: Become the best manager you can be.

Do you want to become the kind of manager who leads teams to get incredible work done – all while staying happy and motivated?

This Blink shows it’s possible. Backed by extensive data, it proves that when managers focus on the fundamentals of setting expectations, developing talent, and caring about team members’ aspirations, they create a culture of engagement.

This culture is proven to power better business results while allowing people to thrive and do their best work. With a few simple leadership techniques, you’ll learn to provide crystal-clear direction, coach people toward top performance, and invest in their long-term career growth.

The outcome? Your team wins – and so do you.

Summary: When They Win, You Win: Being a Great Manager Is Simpler Than You Think by Russ Laraway

Working with the “Big 3”

Have you ever suffered under bad management? Perhaps you’ve struggled with unclear direction from your boss. Or lacked coaching to develop your skills. Or felt adrift in your job without guidance on advancing your career. It might only be a small consolation, but if so, you’re only one of many.

Most managers fail to lead their teams effectively. But there’s a simple formula, used by some of the best managers in the world, that’s proven to engage employees and drive results. It comes down to what’s known as the Big 3 – direction, coaching, and career support.

First comes direction. This means clearly communicating expectations and priorities. It requires defining a long-term purpose and vision as well as short-term goals and sharing these openly with your employees. Surprisingly, even good managers often fail to provide this clarity.

Second is coaching. Employees need frequent feedback on what they’re doing well so they can repeat it. They also need constructive criticism to continuously improve. Good managers also make room for their employees’ ideas, applying them when possible and refining them as needed.

Finally, career support entails guiding team members’ growth beyond promotions. It means understanding their aspirations and actively assisting their development. This shows care for employees as human beings, not just workers.

Ample data shows that the Big 3 behaviors measurably improve employee engagement. And increased engagement has been linked to productivity, profitability, and other key measures of good business. When managers embrace direction, coaching, and career support, it creates a cycle of winning for employees, leaders, and the business.

Providing direction

Aligning a team to work together effectively is no easy task. But there are proven frameworks that you can use to create shared direction and motivation. Specifically, you want to develop a purpose, a vision, and OKRs – objectives and key results. These help get everyone on the same page and headed in the right direction.

To define your purpose, you can ask the simple question, Why does our team exist? Your unique purpose statement will answer who your team is, what it does, and what problems it aims to solve.  Good purpose statements are short, memorable action phrases starting with an infinitive verb. For example, you might answer the question Why does our team exist? with To provide amazing customer service.

Develop the purpose collaboratively with your team members to get them engaged. Have each person draft their own version first, then come together to align your goals. The process of cocreating a purpose gets everyone on the same page about why the team’s work matters.

Next, share your vision. The vision statement describes the ideal future state the team is working toward. It’s about the common hill you’re climbing together. Good visions are aspirational yet tangible, with measurable or binary outcomes. Combine a short envisioned future statement and add a more detailed vivid description of what that success looks like. For example, one of Microsoft’s early envisioned futures was that there would be a computer on every desktop and in every home. Pick a realistic timeline for your vision, somewhere around two to five years out.

OKRs align people with the company goals and focus their efforts. Objectives are qualitative expressions of ambitious things to achieve, while key results are quantitative measures of success with deadlines. Set OKRs quarterly, then grade yourself on them when the quarter closes. OKRs chart a clear route for coaching, coordination across teams, and connecting daily work to long-term goals. Avoid too many OKRs, unclear measures of success, and esoteric language.

With these three basic tools, you’ll set your team up to work and succeed together. The purpose rallies people around why their work matters. The vision describes where they’re headed together. And the OKRs plot the route to get there.

Coaching for success

The core of effective management is coaching, which simply means helping your team continuously improve. This involves two main types of feedback: praise to encourage effective behaviors, and constructive criticism to improve performance.

When team members exhibit behaviors you want to be repeated, praise them specifically and sincerely. When you recognize real contributions publicly, you motivate the whole team.

Constructive criticism or improvement coaching means promptly giving low-threat feedback. Focus on the work, not the person. Deliver your critiques privately and respectfully. Ask curious questions to uncover obstacles and involve the employee in solving problems.

You also want to keep a good praise-to-criticism balance. The ideal ratio is five positive comments for each negative one. In any case, psychological safety is the foundation for effective feedback. Employees need to feel safe speaking up, sharing concerns, and presenting ideas without fear of embarrassment or retaliation.

You should also make room for employees’ ideas and concerns, even if you don’t act on them. This builds trust and shows you value their input. Remember that coaching works best as a two-way street, so regularly ask for feedback on how you too can improve.

Good managers also allow some emotional response to feedback without overreacting themselves. Expect some defensiveness when criticizing and don’t take it personally. You don’t need to suppress harmless emotional responses or require a particular communication style. The goal is authenticity, not robotic professionalism.

Finally, the best way to demonstrate care for the whole human being is by enabling their success. Employees need to know you’re invested in helping them accomplish their goals and grow in their roles. This goes beyond small talk – it means meaningful support.

Frequent coaching focused on improvement establishes you as an ally invested in your team’s growth. Pair this with psychological safety and your employees will feel that you have their back while they pursue ever-greater achievements.

Leading meaningful career conversations

Meaningful career conversations between managers and employees are essential for sustainable success. Yet, they rarely happen. Too frequently, managers are overwhelmed by short-term demands and fail to prioritize discussions about long-term career aspirations. Careers end up directionless, hopping between roles without a guiding purpose.

A better approach involves structured career conversations in three parts:

Conversation 1: Life Story – The first conversation focuses on understanding each of your employee’s motivators and drivers. Invite them to share their life story from the beginning. Listen for the major choices and pivots in their life. Why did they make certain decisions about activities, studies, and work? Look for themes and try to extract 5-10 core values based on their life path. Share this analysis with them to ensure you both understand their motivations.

Conversation 2: Career Vision – Next, you need to understand your employee’s dream job or long-term career vision. Many resist this, but almost everyone has one. Ask them to describe their vision. Use clarifying questions on industry, company size, and role to bring their dream into focus. The goal is to work toward a tangible goal like “CTO of a midsize tech company.” This gives you a shared dream to work toward.

Conversation 3: Career Action Plan – With the life story path and future goal clear, build an 18-month plan to take steps forward. Identify the skills the employee needs for their vision and build toward them. More concretely, you and your employee can build a 4-part action plan:

First, make changes to their current role.

Second, help them pursue formal skill development like training.

Third, plan their next job move.

And fourth, activate your networks to inform and influence their future.

Taken together, these career conversations create mutual understanding, better alignment, and ultimately, future success. Being invested in your employees’ growth and dreams makes them more likely to invest in you and the company. In short, great career conversations enable people to love their work.

Putting it into practice

By now, you’ve probably got the message: being a good manager is the most important job in any organization. Managers hold the keys to employee engagement, work results, and business performance. Yet few live up to the leadership standard required.

The best managers consistently provide three things: direction, coaching, and career advice. They define an inspiring vision with their team, set concrete goals, give candid feedback, ask questions, and invest in people’s dreams.

This shows the organization CARES. Indeed, CARES is a perfect acronym for what the best managers do. They Create a culture of candor through regular coaching and feedback. They Actively prioritize the most important work. They Respond to ideas and concerns from employees. They Establish clear expectations for behaviors and results. And they Support employee growth and development.

In this way, great managers create engaged, high-performing teams that deliver incredible results. But they can’t do it all on their own. Organizations need to systematize their approach to make each of their managers a great one. Good management is a learnable skill that requires rigorous selection, formal training, consistent assessment, and ongoing coaching.

Companies need to remember that a good manager isn’t just important for employees. It’s the very foundation on which organizational success is built. A culture of strong managers unlocks the potential in every team member. This multiplier effect compounds to drive the entire company forward. When managers help their people win, the whole organization wins.


Good management is essential for business success.

With the right tools, everyone can become a great manager. A systematic approach provides direction by being clear on goals and expectations. It coaches candidly via regular feedback focused on improving performance. And it develops careers by understanding motivations and long-term aspirations.

Good management means genuine mentoring, not just supervision. Employees should understand what success entails and receive help achieving it. The result is more fulfilled teams that feel motivated and engaged. These teams in turn achieve greater productivity, performance, and innovation. And this spurs business-wide growth.

Managers should help employees win. And when employees win, organizations win.

About the Author

Russ Laraway


Management, Leadership, Career Success, Business, Self-Help, Nonfiction, Personal Development, Career, Communication, Psychology, Organizational Culture.


The book is a practical guide for managers who want to create happy, engaged, and productive teams. The author, Russ Laraway, draws on his experience as a leader at Google, Twitter, Qualtrics, and Goodwater Capital, as well as his military background, to share his three simple rules for effective management:

  • Set clear direction: Define the vision, mission, strategy, and goals for your team and communicate them clearly and consistently.
  • Coach frequently: Provide regular feedback, recognition, and guidance to your team members and help them grow their skills and confidence.
  • Engage on career: Show genuine interest in your team members’ long-term career aspirations and help them achieve their potential.

The book is full of examples, stories, and tools that illustrate how to apply these rules in different situations and contexts. The author also explains how to avoid common pitfalls and challenges that managers face, such as micromanagement, lack of trust, and poor communication. The book is designed to help managers of all levels and backgrounds to become better leaders and to create a positive impact on their teams, organizations, and customers.

The book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to learn how to be a great manager and leader. The author’s style is engaging, conversational, and humorous, making the book easy and enjoyable to read. The book is also well-structured, with each chapter covering one of the three rules and providing actionable steps and tips for implementing them.

The book is based on the author’s extensive experience and research, and he supports his claims and advice with relevant data and evidence. The book is not only informative, but also inspiring, as the author shares his own stories and challenges, as well as the successes and failures of other managers and leaders. The book is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather a flexible and adaptable framework that can be applied to different teams, cultures, and industries. The book is a must-read for anyone who wants to improve their management skills and to create a culture of happiness, engagement, and performance in their teams.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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