HR Manager's Bookshelf<br> Authors touch on many facets of development

The topic of management and executive development embraces a great many issues and HR functional areas: organizational learning, training, forecasting and succession planning, rewards, performance measurement, diversity… and the list goes on.

Here are capsule summaries and comments on a range of recent titles that address these questions and others, including some of the qualitative and philosophical aspects of leadership, and nitty gritty resources for helping managers with business meetings and for developing top sales performers.

Best Practices in Knowledge Management & Organization Learning Handbook
Ed. by Phil Harkins, Louis Carter and Amy Timmins, Linkage (2000), (718) 862-3157,

A survey of large and small organizations culminated in this handbook which presents in-depth case studies of leading edge practices in training, building communities of practice, and approaches to becoming learning organizations.

Some of the contents:

•Ernst & Young: developing a sales culture, globalizing the practice, becoming an employer of choice and accelerating speed to market;

•Hewlett Packard: an organization-wide program to share knowledge between projects, learn from success and mistakes, and capture reusable material from engagements;

•Buckman Labs: two decades of evolution to the next level of organizational learning and the next generation of knowledge sharing; and

•Massachusetts General Hospital: an organizational learning program that led two departments into a new era of problem-solving, producing quantifiable results that benefited thousands of patients.

Other profiles include Shell Oil, AT&T, Microsoft and The World Bank. The case studies feature lots of models, tools and examples that readers may find useful to adapt in developing their own approaches.

Leading at the Edge
By Dennis N.T. Perkins, Amacom (2000), 1-800-565-5758,

This book draws leadership lessons from the 1914 Antarctic expedition led by British explorer Ernest Shackleton, and will appeal to readers and HR professionals who best relate to a colourful and heroic story for inspiration. The story generates the following 10 strategies:

1. Never lose sight of the ultimate goal, and focus energy on short-term objectives.

2. Set a personal example with visible, memorable symbols and behaviours.

3. Instill optimism and self-confidence, but stay grounded in reality.

4. Take care of yourself: maintain your stamina and let go of guilt.

5. Reinforce the team message constantly: “We are one — we live or die together.”

6. Minimize status differences and insist on courtesy and mutual respect.

7. Master conflict — deal with anger in small doses, engage dissidents and avoid needless power struggles.

8. Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about.

9. Be willing to take the Big Risk.

10. Never give up — there’s always another move.

The modern application of these strategies is traced in case studies from Weyerhauser, AT&T, Rice Health Systems and other organizations.

Resources provided to readers include a critical leadership skills survey with scoring and profiling and a personal development plan.

Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman
By Gail Evans, Broadway Books (2000),

This is a quick read with straightforward situation descriptions and advice for readers. CNN executive vice-president Gail Evans subtitles the book: “What men know about success that women need to learn.”

The premise: Business is a game. There are rules. Women don’t know them.

Sample contents include four ground rules:

•you are who you say you are;

•one prize doesn’t fit all;

•work isn’t a sorority; and

•you’re always a mother, daughter, wife or mistress

There’s also a list of six things men can do at work that women can’t:

•they can cry;

•they can have sex;

•they can fidget;

•they can yell;

•they can have bad manners; and

•they can be ugly.

But you, a woman, can’t, if you seek success.

Other sections present basic rules for succeeding and a section on “genderbender” vocabulary — the different meanings, for men and for women, of simple words: yes, no, sorry, aggressive, glass ceiling, future. Evans’ book is an educational resource not only for women, but yes, for men as well.

Office Politics
By Rebecca Luhn Wolfe, Crisp (1997), available in Canada from Raincoast Books, (604) 323-7100,

This self-assessment, self-study and planning workbook, part of the Crisp “50 minute series,” looks at how to navigate organizational politics toward career success. It’s an awareness builder for those who don’t perceive, or accept, the reality of politics in the work organization:

•how to recognize devious tactics;

•why negotiating is a career-saving skill;

•how to recover from political blunders; and

•the importance of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (relationships, esteem, style, power, ethics, control and tactics).

Leaders — and anyone else at work — could use this book as a starting point for improving the ability to handle work interactions and dynamics.

The Complete Handbook of Business Meetings
By Eli Mina, Amacom (2000), 1-800-565-5758,

This guide and reference book will help managers and professionals increase skills in planning and conducting meetings for productive results.

Opening chapters provide a solid foundation view of healthy meetings and decision-making, along with ingredients of successful meetings (mandate, flexibility, openness, listening, collaboration, shared responsibility and logistical support).

Much of the book addresses facilitation topics:

•challenges facing the meeting chairperson;

•effective planning;

•empowered, proactive members;

•handling contentious issues; and

•rules of order that make sense.

Other chapters cover accurate and useful minutes, advantages and disadvantages of virtual meetings, and troubleshooting pointers (agenda, time management, logistics and quality discussion). Numerous examples and checklists make for a quick resource that can be used while getting ready for a meeting, rather than a cover-to-cover read.

How to Hire and Develop your next Top Performer
By Herb Greenberg, Harold Weinstein and Patrick Sweeney, McGraw Hill (2001), 1-800-565-5758,

Leadership with a sales focus is the topic here; the book is subtitled “Five qualities that make salespeople great.”

Why are some salespeople so incredible, while others are obviously in the wrong job? What do the best salespeople have that others do not? What does it really take to succeed in sales?

The authors are Canadian consultants with the firm Caliper. Some of the main areas they address are:

•qualities for success (motivation, empathy, discipline from within, resilience);

•job matching between requirements and the individual’s strengths;

•effective sales management, and the difference between managers and leaders;

•sales dynamics in specific industries, such as banking, high tech, real estate, insurance and advertising; and

•building a winning sales team.

HR practices touched on include recruiting, screening, psychological testing, interviewing, training and compensation.

The Inner Work of Leaders
By Barbara Mackoff and Gary Wenet, Amacom (2001), 1-800-565-5758,

This book puts forward the view that “Leadership develops from within. Only when leaders do this inner work (and understand the experiences that have influenced them) can they develop powerful habits of mind for leading and inspiring others.”

Five habits of mind are described in depth:

•reflection: examining experience;

•framework: creating an optimistic narrative;

•attunement: learning from those you lead;

•conviction: relying on inner authority; and

•replenishment: restoring perspective.

The writers are psychologists who based this work on interviews and profiles of a wide range of individuals in leadership roles in business, government, academia, the arts and community organizational fields.

Ray Brillinger is a senior consultant with the IBM Consulting Group. He provides change management, business tranformation and organization effectiveness services to client organizations. He can be reached at (905) 316-4646 or [email protected]

Latest stories