BUSINESS THINKING BETWEEN THE COVERS
The Careerist – 100 Ways to Get Ahead at Work
by Rhymer Rigby
Kogan Page €19.99
Written by a freelance journalist and Financial Times columnist, this book is more of a compendium of advice garnered from experts than a work inspired by the author’s own experience. That said, Rigby has researched widely and weaves his sources together well under a wide range of headings.
What’s refreshing is that the book departs from the banal advice of many career guidance books and delves into subjects such as how to deal with a blot on your CV and what do if you have chosen the wrong job. There is advice on managing clever but lazy employees and how to lead a U-turn. There is even a section on how to plan a holiday for those anxious about leaving their desks.
One of the more interesting chapters – “the stuff nobody likes” – includes some useful tips on dealing with a bad boss such as, put some distance between yourself and your boss and forge strong relationships with other stakeholders to ensure they know you are doing a good job. Be wary about challenging a bad boss as this will involve making demands on senior executives to act when they would rather not.
Written in a lively and engaging style, Rigby’s book is one of the better career management books on the market.
Lessons from the Top
by Gavin Esler
Profile Books €14.99
BBC journalist Gavin Esler draws on his wide experience of interviewing leaders and famous personalities to make some observations about what makes the great, great. Leaders, he says, tell stories that they hope will stick in our minds. Typically they begin with their origins and construct narratives that are shaped to engage our attention. Crucially, they accentuate the parts of their life-story that they want us to hear, underplaying the bad bits.
The appetite for such stories is fed by the increasing trivialisation of journalism, Esler acknowledges. For those in the public eye, what is considered private continues to shrink while that which is assumed to be public continues to grow.
If a leader like David Cameron or Gordon Brown does not engage with globalised gossip, they risk not being seen as “one of us”. If they do, they find the banalities of their lives repeated on 24-hour news, as if they help voters to decide how to choose their next leader.
Esler has some sharp observations about story-telling, including how to build learning from mistakes into your narrative. You should rewrite the script a few times and apologise for the past where necessary.
As he says, Bill Clinton made a career out of it, Greg Dyke did it at the BBC and Angela Merkel is doing it for Germany.
Managing to be Human
by Brian F Smyth
Orpen Press €18.95
The author is a former Nasa and General Motors employee turned consultant. His thesis is that, in managing business organisations, it is possible to act in a human way all the time and that doing so is not only helpful to individuals, but it also builds more successful organisations.
Smyth puts a strong emphasis on the importance of creativity in organisations and notes that creativity arises from an understood dissatisfaction with how things are compared to how they could and should be. Your success as a manager or leader depends on how creative your own responses and those of your team are to your given situation.
Being a leader means seeing the world as fluid, full of energy and possibility, he says, and while maintaining what is in place is important, it takes second place to the drive to constantly seek and pursue betterment.
However, there are many common pitfalls and our potential can get blocked by our own beliefs and prejudices including fear of making mistakes, inadequate skills and knowledge, blaming others and not spotting or taking opportunities that arise.
Managers’ and employees’ attitudes to change determine whether change is viewed and handled as a transformation process or as a crisis, he notes.