There are a ton of books out right now, offering managers advice and guidance on how to run their companies or departments or groups or whatever the heck it is they're in charge of. The one common denominator to all of these books and this is what kind of spooks me about the ultimate value of the advice is that the authors have all left the business world to become consultants or academics.
Consider all these recent titles:
● Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time
● Epic Change: How to Lead Change in the Global Age
● Think Smart, Act Smart: Avoiding the Business Mistakes That Even Intelligent People Make
● The Taboos of Leadership: The 10 Secrets No One Will Tell You About Leaders and What They Really Think
● The Obvious: All You Need to Know in Business. Period.
● Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls
● Career Wisdom: 101 Proven Strategies to Ensure Workplace Success
Every single one of those books (and some of them are fine books, no doubt about that) are written by consultants. If and when I ever get around to writing a follow-up to my own recent book, I'm thinking of calling it How To Write a Leadership Book Without Leaving Your Employees Behind.
In any event, there are some good nuggets to be gleaned out of these books. For instance, how can you resist finding out the 10 secrets nobody will tell you about leaders? Here's what they are, according to author (and consultant) Anthony Smith:
1. We know what leadership looks like (but we don't know what it takes).
2. Charisma shouldn't make a difference (but it does).
3. Real leaders don't play politics (they take it very seriously).
4. Women make better leaders (when that's what they really want to do).
5. The double standard is for cavemen (and the corner office).
6. Thou shalt not play favorites with friends and family (except when it makes a lot of sense).
7. A leader's fundamental duty is to groom a successor (but it hurts like hell).
8. Leaders need to demonstrate work-life balance (no problem: work is their life).
9. Blatant self-interest is dangerous (in followers, not leaders).
10. It's lonely at the top (but leaders wouldn't have it any other way).
I particularly liked a chapter out of consultant James Dale's short book The Obvious titled, "Imagine You Worked For You." Dale writes, "If you're not good to work for, fire yourself. Find a role model you'd rather work for and start being that person."
And then there is this checklist from Career Wisdom's John McKee, neatly packaged for Thanksgiving as it provides a way to gauge if you're a boss that your employees are thankful for. Answer yes or no to each question below, and then check the scorecard that follows.
1. All employees generally dislike work
2. The best motivator for your team is money; it's what brings them back every day.
3. Keeping emotions out of the management process has served the operation well.
4. Your staff prefers to work as a team so that individual accountability is lessened.
5. As much as I would like to, I just don't have the time to spend talking in-person to my subordinates.
6. I encourage feedback from a suggestion box or other anonymous method.
7. I live for the weekends - this job is a paycheck to support my "real" life.
8. I don't believe outsourcing can happen to my company.
9. Regular team meetings are not justifiable as they take too much time, which lessens productivity.
10. My current management position isn't very influential, but when I move up the ladder a bit I can make a "real" contribution to the company.
Score Card: Give yourself 1 point for every time you said "No":
10 = Excellent!! You'll be running the show in no time!
9 = Brilliant. You obviously see your employees as an asset.
8 = Solid. You have the right attitude, and the team will see that.
7 = Well done. You know people and their needs.
6 = Good. You recognize the power of your role.
5 = Fair. May be time to re-think your management strategy.
4 = It's definitely time for an attitude adjustment.
3 = Change or die (metaphorically). Things aren't good, but it's not too late to make
2 = Do something significant that will be viewed in a positive light or your employees
1 = It's time to consider a new job where you do not manage people.
0 = Ever consider a job as a bounty hunter?