I was just paying my bill after a rather nice lunch, whilst at the same time reading Tools And Techniques Of Leadership And Management by Ralph Stacey.
“That looks interesting, do you know anything about leadership?” said the young guy serving me.
I explained that I had offered to review the book and was finding it so interesting that I was reading it in detail rather than the broader skim that reviewing normally requires. I will be posting a review of the book in due course, suffice it to say that I am finding it extremely stimulating, relevant and ‘on the mark’ as regards leadership today and effecting change in organisations.
We had a bit of an interchange and then this guy asked “So what do you think is the best leadership book?” “Well” I said “give me a minute to have a think about that” and so he went away.
Now it is of course a totally unanswerable question, not only because of the tens of thousands of leadership books out there but also because of the best depends not only on my own judgement but his own needs. So when he came back we had a brief conversation about the difference between leadership and management (yet another blog will be exploring whether this distinction really exists) and how, in my view, leadership is partly about what you do and even more about who and how you are. I have a proposition that the way to become more effective leader is to become a bigger and better me – role models may be useful, but they are all different and if you do manage to isolate the common attributes of Margaret Thatcher, Gandhi, Richard Branson, Hitler, Jesus etc. then you end up with a minimum entry requirements to leadership rather than the difference that makes the difference.
So in the end I recommended two titles, books that have had a great impact on me. The first was Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People and the second JS Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Two very different books and yet books that I know from my own personal experience have helped me become a better me.
I would be interested to know how you would response to a similar question.
Bolt from the Blue by Mike Pullen and John Brodie Donald
This book explores approaches to crisis management.
Find out how balancing a broomstick on the end of your finger is relevant to crisis management, explore how the horsemeat in beefburger scandal is essentially the same as the CDO scandal that triggered the economic crisis and learn about how Donald Rumsfeld perhaps knew more than we think about the relationship between those classic Greek actors Scylla and Charybdis
The authors subtitle “Navigating the New World of Corporate Crises’ is relevant insofar as communications media and processes are more or less instant these days and so crises can erupt unexpectedly from the strangest of quarters– very different from when it took weeks to let Queen Victoria know that we had beaten the Boers. These instant communications channels offer/create challenges that are new to most companies, as is amply demonstrated in the host of case studies (perhaps a few too many, or explored in too much detail, for the practicing manager, who wants to know about ACTION) presented in support of the authors’ prescriptions:
- Five key principles of crisis management
- Don’t deny anything before you know all the facts
- Your response time must be faster than the speed of the story
- When the crisis hits bring in external consultants
- Change the culture not just the policies
- Be patient, recovery takes time
The bulk of the book explores, through extensive use of case studies, how crises can arise as a result of:
- Six potential instigators of crises
The book started as an easy and interesting read, but seemed to peter out about half way through when it became more descriptive than prescriptive. It would offer some useful insights to internal PR professionals and to the most senior management in any company although reading the Introduction and Chapter 1 alone would offer the most advice, the rest is a series of illustrations of how crises can arise.
I was delighted to review this book as part of the CMI Management Book of the Year competition. Here is what I offered:
This book delivers amply on the sub-title of “How To Unlock Value From Your Alliances And Partnerships”. Building on 40 years of well-referenced research, it links research findings with case studies from several industries before building valuable insights into different types of alliance, different levels of advantage, how to decide what pattern is appropriate for your company, then to construct, manage and unbundle your alliances. It guides the reader through a set of tools designed to help them understand and reap advantage from their company’s alliances. Whilst speaking of formal organisational alliances rather than networks, many of the concepts would be relevant in building and using your corporate or private networks more effectively.
Moving from vertical or horizontal integration to effective networks/alliances is a direction of travel for today’s organisations and managers of the future would do well to read this and explore how alliances will help their organisation. This book may not offer anything revolutionary but it is certainly revelationary in the way the prospects of real world organisations are analysed in terms of their alliance strategies.
Aimed at larger companies rather than SMEs, this is a ‘must read’ if your company needs the help/co-operation/support of others to succeed.