[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Successful Manager" by Practical Approaches for Building and Leading High-Performing Teams.]
4 out of 4 stars
In our various workplaces, we usually hope for personal development and promotions to managerial positions. I can still remember how elated I was when I first became a manager at my workplace. However, contrary to popular belief, that was the beginning of numerous challenges I would face. The extreme difficulties with managing different personalities and expectations are well documented; therefore, James Potter, a Senior Managing Director at Blue Ridge Partners, and Mike Kavanagh, an executive coach, have come to provide support to both new and experienced managers with their book, The Successful Manager: Practical Approaches for Building and Leading High-Performing Teams.
The book covers the tedious process of becoming a great manager and the strategies that should be employed towards achieving this goal. The authors explore a wide range of angles while touching on key aspects, like building your team, the qualities of a great manager, motivating your team, effective time management, and setting and managing goals and expectations.
I have to say that I learned quite a lot from this book. The first thing I was drawn to before I even picked up the book was the authors' wealth of experience in management and career coaching included in the book's description. On reading the book, we are also exposed to a few lessons from other experienced managers, including Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, and Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP of People Operations. What better way to learn about becoming a great manager than from great managers?
On reading the first few pages of the book, which commenced by educating readers on why they should aspire to become managers, I was impressed by the authors' commitment to passing their message in simple language. This feature of the book is continuous for the entire duration of the book, and they also employ graphs, illustrations, and acronyms to further simplify things for readers and ensure that the lessons stick. My favorite acronym has to be the use of the word "TEACHER (Transparent, Empathetic, Adaptable, Clear Communicator, Humble, Empowering, and Responsive)" to highlight the qualities of a great manager. It sounds obvious and easy to practicalize, but this is followed by a detailed analysis of how a lot of managers can get it wrong and how to effectively become a teacher.
Furthermore, this is a very practical guide. The authors do not neglect the chance to paint different scenarios and show how their lessons can be applied in those scenarios. The most helpful aspect of the book revolved around giving constructive feedback to your team members, where detailed scripts of how to drive positive and negative feedback are included.
Also, The Successful Manager is a professionally edited book. I found about five errors while reading, but they were few and far between and did not have any effect on my reading flow. The authors also encourage journaling as a means of self-reflection, especially at the end of each chapter, where there is a recap of everything discussed within the chapter. However, readers must be brutally honest with themselves to be able to identify where the lessons can be applied to improve their management skills.
All things considered, this guide is an enlightening read. The only aspect I would have liked an improvement on was in the authors' use of personal stories to drive home their lessons, as I felt that the stories were not relatable at times. Nevertheless, the book's content and overall execution encourage me to rate The Successful Manager 4 out of 4 stars. New and experienced managers will get to learn a lot from the contents of this book. I would also recommend this piece to aspiring managers.