Book Review – Pocket Mentor: Managing Teams

Managing TeamsHarvard Business Review’s (HBR) Pocket Mentor series provides pocket sized books on various topics for management and leadership. Overall there are aout 40 books in the series covering topics such as, coaching people, creating a business plan, delegating work and leading people

Over the next couple of weeks I will be reviewing ten of these books so get ready. The first one I’m reviewing in this post is titled, Managing Teams. This book written by Anne Donnellon is a mini 91 paged book with quick tools and tips around managing teams. As it is with the pocket mentor series, the book doesn’t have chapters, but rather topics which provide quick content that is easy to grasp and I believe apply. Tere is no in depth or mind bending stuff here, just simple information that you can start using. Continue reading

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Book Review – The Go-Giver By Bob Burg and John David Mann

The G-_GiverThe Go-Giver written by Bob Burg and John David Mann is one of those books written in parable style, just like the One Minute Manager and Who Moved My Cheese, it uses a story to teach business lessons in a very engaging way. The book is centred around, Joe, a highly driven salesman who is bent on achieving his quarterly target. Joe needs all the support he can get. He is introduced to Pindar by a colleague, who believes Pindar might be able to help him.

Pindar does end up helping Joe, but not in the way he expects. Though he doesn’t help Joe achieve his sales targets, he does help Joe become  a go-giver,  which is the exact opposite of what Joe had always believed was necessary to succeed. Pindar helps Joe to learn the five laws of  a go-giver which are: Continue reading

Book Review – Action Learning For Change By Lynne Butler and Nigel Leach

Action Learning For managersAction learning has been an approach I admired for a long time and three years ago I trained to become an action learning practitioner and even got to use it as part of a leadership development programme. Action Learning For Change, which I first read about four years ago and I’m now reading again is one of those books that inspired me to take on action learning. The reason being, the book describes a simple approach to implementing action learning which almost anyone can understand and I like simple. In my opinion Lynee and Nigel have done a brilliant job to make action learning an accessible practice.

About the book, though it covers 220 pages you can read it in a couple of hours and even though the entire book is written in black and white, it’s very visually appealing. It uses a good balance of quotes, bullet points, case studies, tables, diagrams and images. Each chapter is broken into small sections which are easy to digest so reading it won’t feel like a chore. Continue reading

Book Review – The Three Levels of Leadership by James Scouller

Three levels of leadershipThe Three Levels of Leadership by James Scouller is a book that claims to help you develop your leadership presence, knowhow and skill. The book focuses on three leadership levels which it labels as Personal, Private and Public levels. The book’s core content is split across two parts which are Part 1: The Foundational ideas and Part 2: Personal leadership.

Part 1 has four chapters. I have briefly summarised each of these chapters in short paragraphs below.

  1. Leadership and The Leader: This chapter discusses three inner issues which leaders face, defines leadership and touches on what a leader is for.
  2. The Three Levels of Leadership Model: In this chapter, the difficulty of becoming a leader is discussed. The Three Levels of Leadership Model, a core aspect of the book is also introduced.
  3. Public, Private and Personal Leadership: The components of the Three Levels of Leadership Model are discussed in more detail.
  4. Summarising the Foundations: In this chapter, the core foundations of the information in the book are summarised which are a model called Leadership’s Four Dimensions and The Three Levels of Leadership.

Part 2 contains majority of the book with six chapters. Continue reading

Book review – Fish by Stephen Lundin, Harry paul and John Christensen

Fish

Previously I reviewed the book One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson which is a management book with some key management principles explained through a story. Fish! is another book written in exactly the same story format. In fact Kenneth Blanchard wrote the foreword to this book. This book also deals with some key leadership and management principles, but that of motivating teams to perform and what makes it a great book to read is the simplicity with which the book is written, it’s captivating story and how short it is. The book is just 110 pages of reading content and that includes a real life story of applying the Fish! principles.

So what really is this book about? Mary Jane Ramirez is a mother of two children who recently lost her husband. She works in a department nicknamed the ‘toxic energy dump’ by the other people in the company because of how demotivated the team members of the department are. Mary Jane has been told to turn her team around or risk losing her job. She is thinking hard about the possibility of turning the team around when she comes across the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle after taking a wrong turn during her lunch break at work. She observes how motivated the guys selling fish are, considering that selling fish is not the most glamorous or exciting job in the world. She gets to know one of the guys in the fish market called, Lonnie, whom she tells about her situation at work.

Lonnie offers to help her using the principles of the fish market and gives her the four principles which were used to make the fish place an exciting place to work. She applies the principles to her department and successfully makes her team a more motivated one. The four principles that Mary Jane learnt from Lonnie are:

  1. Choose your attitude: There is always a choice about the way you do your work even if there is not a choice about the work itself.
  2. Play: Create an environment of fun while working. If people can have fun selling fish then almost everyone can create fun in their work.
  3. Make their day: Involve the people, especially your customers in the fun environment too. Help them to enjoy interacting with you.
  4. Be there: Fully engage with the people you work with. Give them full attention.

Mary Jane worked hard to understand these four principles and found a way to apply them to her workplace. There is a fairy tale ending to the story, Lonnie and Mary Jane get married.

The significance of this book is that the writers, Lundin, Paul and Christensen believe that we can implement the Fish! principles in our own teams too, and it does not necessarily have to be a work team. It can be a family or even a volunteer group. If you want to make a team more motivated or responsive the Fish! principles might just help.