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

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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.

Book Review – The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

Picture1The One Minute Manager is a classic leadership and management book that distills three key management skills in the form of a short story. Written by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, the original version of the book was written in the year 2000 and has been updated since then. This is a book that can be read in one seating and is very easy to understand. The story is centred around a young manager who meets up with the One Minute Manager to learn what makes him a good manager. Throughout the book, the young manager not only discusses with the one minute manager, but also meets with some of his direct reports to learn from them how the one minute manager operates. Three key skills are discussed in the book and these are referred to as the secrets for one minute management. They are:

  1. One minute goals: setting goals that can be read in one minute. These goals must not cover more than one side of an A4 sheet and must have 250 words or less.
  2. One minute praisings: This is about catching people doing things right and immediately  praising them for what they did.
  3. One minute reprimands: This is about correcting people immediately you notice that they have done something wrong.

This is a book that tries to summarise some of the most important skills of leadership and management into three techniques using an engaging story. If you’ve read this book before, read it again. If you haven’t read it before then you need to read it. Though it’s quite old, it’s a refreshing read when compared to all the complex management books currently being written. Management and leadership should be explained in a simple way and this book succeeds at doing that.

 

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

Coaching habitThe Coaching Habit was written by Michael Bungay Stanier. The book aims to help people develop coaching as a habit by teaching seven easy to ask questions to get a coaching conversation going.

The book also has tips on how to build new habits. The seven questions discussed are:

  1. The Kickstart question which is for starting a conversation.
  2. The AWE question which is for identifying options to discuss after asking the Kickstart AWE stands for “And What Else?”
  3. The Focus question which is about identifying the most important thing to focus the conversation on.
  4. The Foundation question is to find out what a person wants.
  5. The Lazy question is used to find out how you can be of help to a person.
  6. The Strategic question helps to identify issues that may be overwhelming a person.
  7. The Learning question is used to conclude a conversation.

Continue reading

Book Review – Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Delivering happinessDelivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh is part biography and business memoir as it discusses aspects of Tony’s life and his business ventures especially those that have to do with Zappos, the online shoe company which Tony is a part of, which was later purchased by Amazon. The book starts out outlining parts of Tony’s early life especially his education and his business exploits when he was young. After leaving university Tony would start a business called LinkExchange which was bought by Microsoft making him a lot of money. With the money Tony set up an investment fund which was how he came across Zappos, an online shoe company he invested in and later joined as CEO. Zappos was a risky bet for Tony, as he put almost every penny he owned into the company, including selling his personal possessions to fund the company. It was a company almost destined to fail, but Tony stuck with it, helping to build up the value of the company which would later be purchased for over a billion dollars by Amazon. Continue reading