Good management boils down to three main areas of insight, according to Andrew Leigh’s latest book: managing yourself, managing others and managing the organisation. Leigh, the founder of development consultant Maynard Leigh Associates, has even gone a stage further by boiling this down to 20 core skills for new managers – which are apparently a distillation of his experience from two decades of running his own firm and consulting to others. ‘Go into any organisation and talk to a really effective manager and I am confident they are likely to agree on most if not all the 20 topics the book tackles,’ he says, optimistically.
The good news is that Leigh has tried to be very practical in his choices. He starts by focusing on managing yourself, and the importance of proper self-awareness, which requires the manager to ‘cultivate emotional intelligence’ and ‘listen actively’ to feedback. He also deals with ‘how to win hearts as well as minds’ by improving your networking, presentation and writing skills. The second section, on managing others, covers a lot of familiar management book territory: managing upwards, coaching for results, and dealing with difficult people. You’d be hard pressed to argue with the basic choices, although some might feel that it’s hard to do them justice in this short format – after all, most of these issues have previously filled entire books all on their own.
In the third section, Leigh has some interesting stuff to say about how new managers can make an immediate splash. ‘My basic argument is that you need to start with a belief that you can have an impact on the organisation in what you do and how you go about things,’ he says. Take meetings, for example. ‘Most managers are poor at creating inspiring worthwhile meetings. Those who learn to make their meetings highly effective, enjoyable experiences tend to rapidly stand out in even the largest organisations. So learning to run inspiring meetings can have a ripple effect throughout an organisation.’
This book is aimed at the management newcomer, so it’s likely to be a bit generic for the seasoned veteran. But Leigh makes no apologies for this; he doesn’t believe tyros should launch straight into the likes of Gary Hamel. ‘New managers today need practical help on the best way to prepare themselves for the brave new world’, he says. At the London Business Forum this week, he even plans to use drama to get his point across: each of the three sections will be illustrated with an ‘amusing playlet’, in which Leigh’s consultants promise to ‘bring the particular issue to life’. We can’t see Professor Hamel doing that, somehow…
‘The Secrets of Success in Management: 20 Ways to Survive and Thrive’ by Andrew Leigh is out now, published by Pearson Education. He’ll also be appearing at the London Business Forum this Wednesday, 25th February.
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Books Special: The Secrets of Success in Management, by Andrew Leigh