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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Best Business Book~Sidebars with Interesting Data

This is the first of several posts on The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten (Penguin Group, 2009)

One feature of this book that I liked was the great, informative sidebars. Here are few examples:

a. Best Selling Books: Good to Great (1,447,00 copies); Freakonomics (1,200,00); Blink (1,110,00); Who Moved My Cheese (940,000); and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (652,000)….

b. Selling on the Silver Screen (movies that deal with the essence of selling): The Big Kahuna, The Boiler Room, Death of a Salesman, Glengary Glen Ross, and Tin Men.

c. Choose Your Approach: People learn differently, so the authors offer three book genres to appeal to everyone: Fables, Modern (last 10 years), and Classics. As one example the authors give on change:

i.(Fable) Who Moved My Cheese?; (Modern) Change or Die; Leading Change (Classic).
ii.They provide the same learning breakdown for Motivation and Leadership as well.

Monday, March 30, 2009


The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You (Penguin Group, 2009) By Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten

Many leaders today move at the speed of light. We’re all working harder, faster, and hopefully smarter than ever, and still it’s hard to keep up with our discipline: Business. If you read (or had the time to read) Jim Collins (Good to Great), you know how important it is for all of us to have an intellectual discipline that is our own and to keep it honed.

And in business that discipline is, well, business. However, the press of the day often crowds out our wish to “sharpen the saw” (Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People). Well, if you want to manage better by engaging employees (a la Buckingham and Clifton’s First Break all the Rules) or influence people’s decisions like Cialdini’s Influence, Grodon’s The Purple Cow, or Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, then this book’s a good read for you. You can get the essence of all these books and many more in about 15 minutes of reading the excellent summaries of these authors. In the coming week, I will post several things I liked about Collins’s book…which contains 100 book summaries of a select list of books on business.

This week, I’ll chat about the book’s informative and very useful sidebars, the categories it’s organized into with sample books reviewed in each category, some of my favorite quotes taken from best biz books, and more.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How Executives Can Successfully Transition


This is the 4th and FINAL of several posts for the past week based on my book review of The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leader at All Levels by Michael Watkins (Harvard Press). See previous posts.

Executives coming into a company fail at the rate of 40-50% at a cost of $2.7 million to the company.


8. Create coalitions: Whether it's Survivor, prison or the corporate boardroom, you need to figure out your critical supporters early on to survive and thrive. Don’t ever forget both peers and subordinates as critical to your success.

9. Keep your balance: Change causes stress, which causes imbalance. Trying to stay true to core relationships is important—family, work and yourself. To me the old serenity prayer holds true here—God grant me the courage to accept the things I cannot change; to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

10. Expedite everyone: Again—you live in a 360 world surrounded by a living organism called the company. It’s your primary job to adapt to the corporate culture. On the other hand, people around you will also be adjusting—help make it easy for them, especially make it easy for them to like you and see you as part of the organism and not a threat to it. Remember what organisms do when they feel threatened--they form antibodies and reject the new cell!

This book is worth a read when you’re an executive in this situation. It’s definitely worth showing to the head of HR, to a senior partner, and to the CEO. Like Woody Allen says, “Money is important if only for financial reasons!”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

How Executives Can Successfully Transition

This is the 3rd of several posts of the coming week based on my book review of The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leader at All Levels by Michael Watkins (Harvard Press). See previous posts.

Executives coming into a company fail at the rate of 40-50% at a cost of $2.7 million to the company.

4. Secure early wins: Grab the low hanging fruit of success to set the tone of a successful tenure with virtuous relationships and not vicious ones (John Kotter—a Harvard Professor and change icon talks about this a lot in hit books on change, including Leading Change).

5. Negotiate success: Your new boss is your critical connection to the organization. Understanding and meeting his or her needs and expectations, style and energy is important if only for survival purposes! Get consensus on your 90 day plan and life will be a better place.

6. Achieve alignment: As a high flyer in an organization, you need to assure alignment with your approach and the corporate strategy (Covey chats about this a lot in his later books).

7. Build your team: Most new executives inherit teams. The key is to keep the right ones and jettison the wrong ones (remember Good to Great—Jim Collins research taught us to get the right people on the bus and the wrong ones off it).

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Executive Transition: The First 90 Days

This is the 2nd of several posts of the coming week based on my book review of The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leader at All Levels by Michael Watkins (Harvard Press).
Executives coming into a company fail at the rate of 40-50% at a cost of $2.7 million to the company.

1. Promote yourself: Don't get stuck trying to do your old job. Let go and move on and don't assume what got you here will get you there (what Marshall Goldsmith's latest best seller is all about).

2. Accelerate your learning: Get systematic and focused about learning first things first (akin to what Stephen Covey also suggests)

3. Match strategy to the situation: Diagnose whether the new challenge for the transitioning executive involves a Start up, Turnaround, a Reorganization, or Sustaining Success (STRS). This is a critical distinction made by the author.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How Executives Can Survive the First 90 days.


This is the first of several posts of the coming week based on my book review of The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leader at All Levels by Michael Watkins (Harvard Press).

**Startling Statistic: Executives coming into a company fail at the rate of 40-50% at a cost of $2.7 million to the company.

According to Harvard Business School professor Michael Watkins, an executive gets 90 days (three months) to move from a value consumer (costing the organization) to a value creator (value added)—and thus hit the break-even point. The faster this transition takes place the better off the organization is and the more likely the transitioning executive is to be successful. As mentioned, the failure rate for senior executive outside hires into a company is a whopping 40-50%, at a cost of $2.7 million per executive in both direct and indirect costs. Watkins does an excellent job setting up a new executive to succeed. He uses ten steps (PAMS-NAB-CRE)—I need mnemonics to help me remember things. I'll review each of the steps in the next week. You may want to buy this book if you're heading off to a new job--if just as an insurance policy.

One note: I've been working with transitioning executives for some time now--those coming into a new company from the outside, those being promoted from within, and those leaving the company. I've found the process of transition to be done exceptionally and uniformly poorly. In fact, I'd say with rare exception, it's never done well and the results are universally devastating for the employee, his family and the company. Truly, these transitions are the most blatant lose-lose situations I've seen.

Post your transition stories here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Generational Leadership


This is the 4th and FINAL of several posts on a review of the book, Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground (Jossey-Bass, 2007)

8. Retaining younger and older people is easy if you do the right things.Retention keys: Good compensation, learning and development, opportunities for advancement, respect and recognition, and quality of life outside of work.

9. Everyone wants to learn—more than anything else—97% or respondent said this! Top 10 things they want to learn: Leadership, skills in their field, team building, problem solving, strategic planning, change management, computer skills, vision, communications, and conflict management.

10. Almost everyone wants a coach. Coaching by outsiders, managers, and colleagues is effective because it’s so targeted to the individuals that people at every level of the organization want to receive it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Generational Leadership

This is the 3rd of several posts on a review of the book, Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground (Jossey-Bass, 2007)

5. People don’t like organizational politics. People higher in the organization think that politics is less important than people lower in that same organization.

6.No one likes change. Young or old don’t like change largely because they fear more loss than gain by the change.

7. Loyalty depends on context not age. All groups have about the same level of loyalty. Younger people tend to job hop more than older generations did.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Generational Leadership

This is the second of several posts on a review of the book, Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground (Jossey-Bass, 2007)

Here is an overview of the top 10 findings:

1.All generations have similar values. Top values for every generation are Family, Integrity, and Love.

2. Everyone wants respect, they just define it differently. Older generations want respect for their experience and younger generations want respect for their new ideas and suggestions.

3. Trust matters a lot. The less people trust their leaders and or organizations, the more likely they are to leave.)

4. People want leaders who they can believe in.All generations want leaders who are credible, trustworthy, dependable, farsighted, encouraging and good listeners.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Generational Leadership


Excellent Research from the Center for Creative Leadership
This is the first of several posts on a review of the book, Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground
(Jossey-Bass, 2007)

Jennifer Deal, researcher for the renowned Center for Creative Leadership, has written a very important book for leaders who want to understand generational leadership at a transformational level. Drawn from a database of 3,200 people surveyed from 2000 to 2005, this book challenges many of the assumptive differences between generations that she identifies (Silents (born 1925-1945; Early Boomers (born 1946-1954); Late Boomers (born 1955-1963); Early Xers (1964-1976) and Late Xers (1977-1986).

The Leadership Code: Rule #5--Invest in Yourself


This is the 5th and FINAL post based on a book review of The Leadership Code: Five Rules to Live By written by Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood, and Kate Sweetman (Harvard Business Press, 2008).


Airplane safety instructions always instruct parents to put on their oxygen masks first, then their dependents’ masks. Ultimately, that advice is excellent for leaders regarding what the authors call personal proficiency. At a minimum, leaders should take care of themselves at least as well as they do of others. And, the first, best kind of knowledge needed to grow and learn, is self knowledge—knowing your strengths and weaknesses and developing as personal strategic plan that leverages strengths and minimizes weaknesses. Start with yourself and work out into the world. Key issues discussed in this rule:

--Know yourself

--Demonstrate learning agility

--Tend to your own character and integrity

--Take care of yourself

-- Have personal energy and passion.


Friday, March 13, 2009

The Leadership Code: Rule #4--Build the Next Generation

This is the 4th of 5 posts based on a book review of The Leadership Code: Five Rules to Live By written by Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood, and Kate Sweetman (Harvard Business Press, 2008)

Just as leaders must be good talent managers in the day-to-day operations of the company, they must also be excellent human capital developers. Recruiting and retaining for the short term is not enough. Leaders have to ensure that the company survives or outlives the individual. Thus, as human capital developers, leaders need to be able to show talented people how they fit into the future of the organization and keep them motivated for the sake of the organization and the individual’s future.
Key issues discussed in this rule:

-- Map the workforce
-- Create a firm (organizational) and employee brand
-- Help people manage their careers
-- Find and develop next generation talent
-- Encourage networks and relationships

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Leadership Code: Rule #3--Engage Today’s Talent

This is the 3rd of 5 posts based on a book review of The Leadership Code: Five Rules to Live By written by Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood, and Kate Sweetman (Harvard Business Press, 2008)

Good leaders are effective talent managers—they know what their organizations need today in order to help their organizations succeed, in the here and now. First, such leaders know how to assess the needs. Then they know how to recruit people to that need (and corporate vision). Once people are recruited, good leaders know how to motivate them. Essentially they know how to get and keep the right people on the bus while kicking the wrong ones off(the bus metaphor is from Jim Collins’ Good to Great).
Key issues discussed in this rule:

--Communicate, Communicate….
--Create aligned direction
--Strengthen others’ competencies
--Give people the resources they need.
--Create a positive culture/work environment

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Leadership Code: Rule #2--Make Things Happen

All the strategy in the world is for not, unless you execute. Every leader must be able to pull the trigger, not just aim at the target. “Executers translate strategy into action,” the authors note. Without doubt, execution is the discipline of strategic vision. Just as you have to have a goal post (in football), you also have to have a team executing plays to cross that goal line. And that takes disciplined thought, disciplined action, and leadership.

Some key issues covered by this rule*:
--Make change happen
--Follow a decision protocol
--Ensure accountability
--Build teams
--Ensure technical proficiency

*As I mentioned before, the authors provide excellent charts, grids, and worksheets.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Leadership Code: Rule #1--Shape the Future

This is the 1st of 5 posts based on a book review of The Leadership Code: Five Rules to Live By written by Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood, and Kate Sweetman (Harvard Business Press, 2008).

This rule focuses on the leader as strategist. Leaders must have a compelling vision of where want to go in order to persuade others to follow them on the quest. Otherwise, the leader is just out for a nice walk! The good strategists are practical and know how to create the future using current resources, all in service of showing people how they get from here to there. Some key issues covered by this rule:

--Stay curious about the future
--Invite outsiders in, especially smart ones
--Engage the organization is critical
--Create traction inside the organization

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