By August 21, 2012 Read More →

The Leader’s Pocket Guide (Book Review)

The Leaders Pocket Guide

What’s in your leadership toolbox?  Leadership is a journey.  Part of what makes the journey better, is better tools in your toolbox.

The key, of course, is finding the right tools to add to your toolbox.

John Baldoni’s book, The Leader’s Pocket Guide: 101 Indispensible Tools, Tips, and Techniques for Any Situation is full of tools you can add to your leadership toolbox and immediately put to good use.  The book was submitted to me for review, but I agreed to write about it only if I found it useful for readers of Sources of Insight.  I found it to be a great source of truths, insights and actions for the art and science of leadership.

I found the book to be a nice, easy read, and yet rich with breadth and depth.  I like that it’s instant insight and reminders at your fingertips. I also like that the book has self-assessments and some very practical questions to think about and refine your leadership skills.

Parts at a Glance

I won’t list all the chapters since the book is structured in a 101 style, but here are the main parts that the book is organized by:

  • Self
  • Colleagues
  • Organization

What’s In it For You

Here are some of the challenges that The Leader’s Pocket Guide helps you address:

  • How to build your resilience
  • How to develop the confidence to lead
  • How to empower others
  • How to choose whether to be a manager
  • How to regenerate hope
  • How to help your team avoid burnout
  • How to defuse discord on the team

Key Features

Here are some of the key features of The Leader’s Pocket Guide:

  • 101 Tips at a Glance.  The book is split into 101 lessons, so it is easy to dive in anywhere.
  • Callouts.  T
  • Leadership Math.  It’s not really math, but throughout the book there are simple, clever formulas that distill leadership concepts to their essence.
  • Self-Assessments.  The book includes a few very useful self-assessments to put your leadership skills to the test.  The beauty of these assessments is their focus and precision.
  • Think About … One of the most interesting features of the book is the “Think About …”, where you are given a question, scenario or problem to think about, as well as a few prompts to help you explore it.

Here are some examples of my favorite nuggets in the book …

Leadership Math

Here are some examples of my favorite “leadership math” in the The Leader’s Pocket Guide:

  • Leaders Checklist = Purpose + Priorities + Tasks
  • Leadership Brand = Authenticity + Connectivity
  • Value = Competence + Adaptability

I find that these simple formulas helps drive the point home, and add an extra level of precision.

Character Trumps Perfection

Some things you train for.  Some things you hire for.  You hire for character.  Baldoni writes:
”Integrity is not a process; it is a value that is practiced by individuals, managers, and employees alike.  So it matters what employees do and how they do it.

As a veteran once told me, hire for character.  Don’t expect to develop something that is not there.  If a person lacks a moral compass, don’t think you can give him one.”

Why Accountability Counts

Accountability is a cornerstone of leadership.  Baldoni writes:
”A sense of accountability holds people responsible for performance and for results.  Accountability lies at the root of leadership authenticity.  A leader who does not hold himself accountable will find it difficult to lead others.  Leadership provides a foundation for effective management: the operational rigor — processes, policies, and people — that must be in place to ensure that an organization runs smoothly.

Accountability underscores management because it reinforces getting things done right and done on time.  A manager who is sloppy in his administration can try to hold people accountable for their results, but when management is loose, results will be sketchy, too.”

Lead, Don’t Manage

Don’t get in the way.  Empower people to do their jobs.   Baldoni writes:
”Management is a discipline that must buttress every successful organization; things must be accomplished with people, resources, schedules, and budgets.  At the same time, the top person must not be involved in all the details.  He or she must lead, but empower others to manage.”

Defuse the Conflict

Nip bad situations in the bud.  Don’t let them fester.  Lay the ground rules early and stick to them so you can create a workplace of good will and integrity.  Baldoni writes:
”Make it clear that cooperation is mandatory.  Managers who allow employees to act on grudges are giving the aggrieved more reasons to be disagreeable.  Establish a no-tolerance policy for disagreement over people and personalities.  Hold everyone accountable, including yourself, to that standard.

Find common ground.  People in conflicts have no difficulty identifying differences; those differences are what fuel their disagreements.  The challenge for a manager is to get the conflicting parties to put aside those differences.  The best way to do this is to identify common values.  For example, both parties will want the company to succeed; that is a common purpose.  Make it clear that their discord is destroying that value proposition and insist that they stop it.”

Six Words to Live By

Find six words to reflect your leadership approach.  Baldoni writes:
”A way to think about your legacy and how you shape it is to distill your leadership approach into six words.  It is a storytelling technique once practiced by Earnest Hemmingway and adopted by many thousands of others.”

Get the Book

The Leader’s Pocket Guide, by John Baldoni can be pre-ordered on Amazon:

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