Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Book Review: Good Boss, Bad Boss

by Robert I. Sutton

It’s not easy to follow-up a runaway success. Robert Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, was faced with such a task. His 2007 best-seller The No Asshole Rule raised eyebrows for more than just its title. Sutton pulled no punches in his assessment of the toxic workplace culture created by brutal, oppressive individuals. In Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best and Learn from the Worst, Sutton provides an ideal second installment. Now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary, Good Boss, Bad Boss moves the narrative forward. It gives readers a set of instructions to be the best managers they can be.

It’s interesting to note that Sutton was originally tempted to write a straight-ahead sequel to The No Asshole Rule, but after examining the situations in which many of the book’s stories occurred, he found that a boss was the central figure in nearly every case. Executives that read Good Boss, Bad Boss will be grateful that Sutton chose to focus on formulating a healthy management mindset. The practice of being a good boss requires diligence. Through case studies and research, Sutton reveals the necessary steps to move from a great mindset to transformational actions. As an added bonus, Sutton acknowledges that the bulk of individuals in management positions also report to someone, and he includes observations on surviving the worst flaws of a bad boss.

To download your copy of Good Boss, Bad Boss in any of Soundview’s digital formats, visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.



The Importance of Storytelling in Business

 Jesus was having a discussion with a religious leader. When told that he might enter eternal life if he loved God and loved his neighbor, the man sought to justify himself by asking Jesus who his neighbor was. Jesus replied with the parable (story) of the Good Samaritan. Even though this conversation took place over 2,000 years ago, this story has become one of the best known stories of the last two centuries, even among those that have never read the New Testament. Jesus knew the power of the story.

Stories have always been a part of business communication, but in the last several years a trend has developed around the power of storytelling in business. I found over a dozen business books written in the past decade that specifically teach the importance of storytelling in organizations, whether to improve leadership, to help focus meetings, to sell more effectively, or to build strong teams. There is even a National Storytelling Network.

Robert McKee put it this way in the Harvard Business Review: “A big part of a CEO’s job is to motivate people to reach certain goals. To do that, he or she must engage their emotions, and the key to their hearts is story.”

Storytelling is no longer just for CEOs, but the key truth is still the same – storytelling engages the emotions, assisting the speaker in communicating his or her point effectively. In Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences, Nancy Duarte expands this point. Information is static; stories are dynamic – they help an audience visualize what you do or what you believe.

Patrick Lencioni has perfected the art of storytelling in his series of business books, including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Three Signs of a Miserable Job, Silos, Politics and Turf Wars and Getting Naked. Lencioni uses the fable as a way to engage the minds of his readers, communicating the business truths through the characters of the fable.

In The Story Factor, Annette Simmons introduces six story goals:

  • “Who I am” stories – stories that reveal something about how you are.
  • “Why I am here” stories – to reassure the audience about your intentions.
  • “The Vision” story – to transform your vision into the audience’s vision.
  • “Teaching” stories – to communicate certain skills you want others to have.
  • “Values in action” stories – story lets you instill values in a way that keeps people thinking for themselves.
  • “I know what you are thinking” stories – in a story you can identify potential objections and disarm the audience as you build credibility.

Perhaps it’s time to develop your own storytelling skills. The resources above will help and you can read more in our Executive Edge newsletter Learn the Art of Storytelling.



Take the Fear Out of Business Finances

So you finally got that promotion and today is your first day attending the management meeting. As you sit down among your new peers a thick report is passed out filled with numbers. These are the monthly financial reports and as you look through them you’re completely lost. What does it all mean and am I going to be asked to comment on these numbers?

Don’t panic. There are simple ways to get up to speed with the basics of business finances. You could enroll in a business finance course but that would take too long. Or you could read the book No Fear Finance by Guy Fraser-Sampson.

Fraser-Sampson takes the fear out of understanding business financially concepts and reports. In a very clear and methodical way he goes through all the basic information needed to understand and use and understand financial reports and tools.

Early in his book Fraser-Sampson distinguishes between Financial Accounts and Management Accounts. Financial accounts are used to report about a company to outsiders like shareholders, while management accounts are used by management to make business decisions.

Other topics covered include:

  • Basic financial concepts such as the time value of money, and financial instruments including stocks, bonds and derivatives.
  • The main investment concepts like liquidity, volatility, active versus passive investing and different return measurements.
  • Key accounting matters like balance sheet and income statement analysis, working capital and solvency.
  • Company life cycle events including M&A, capital raising, insolvency.

If you would like to get a head start on understanding business finances, please join us for our next Soundview Live webinar, No Fear Finance. Guy Fraser-Sampson will explain basic financial concepts for business use, and will take questions from the audience. Now is a great time to get your burning questions answered in a low-pressure environment.



Success Awaits with Three New Summaries

Executives are constantly fighting a battle on two fronts. There is the desire to improve the organization month by month and quarter by quarter. However, personal progress cannot be neglected in the pursuit of organizational excellence. After all, to make a better company, you need to be at your best. This month Soundview Executive Book Summaries features three summaries that will help you improve the performance of yourself, your team and your organization.

by Claudio Feser

Serial Innovators by Claudio Feser: The typical life expectancy of a company is estimated to be about 15 years. What does it take to exist beyond that average? A company must be able to keep up with changing markets. It has to learn what elements are slowing down its ability to adapt. A company must be able to continuously reinvent itself to stay relevant. Serial Innovators is a guide for how to build a company that is adaptive, innovative and can survive well into the future.

 

 

 

 

by Les McKeown

The Synergist by Les McKeown: A successful team includes bold dreamers (Visionaries), pragmatic realists (Operators), and systems designers (Processors) but it takes a Synergist to blend the motivations and goals of the three types and get everyone to work together effectively. The Synergist puts aside his or her own agenda and captures the best input from each team member. Anyone can learn to be the Synergist and fill this critical role in teamwork improvement. The Synergist reveals a proven method to build highly successful teams while stimulating personal and organizational growth.

 

 

 

by Robert I. Sutton

Good Boss, Bad Boss by Robert I. Sutton: How a boss wields his or her power over an employee is bound to result in feelings that might include resentment, confusion or possibly comfort. If you are a boss, are you attuned to how your words and actions affect your employees? Good Boss, Bad Boss is for bosses and those who have bosses. It details how to adopt the characteristics of a good boss and survive the flaws of a bad boss. Dr. Sutton uses real-life case studies and behavioral science research to reveal exactly what the best bosses do.

 

 

 

 

To download your copies in any of Soundview’s multiple digital formats, visit Soundview’s Web site, Summary.com.



Age Profiling in the Workplace

In my blog post back on April 11th, I wrote about the need for companies to develop a work ethic among Generation Y employees as part of my coverage of our webinar with Eric Chester. But as I was writing, I couldn’t help but think of several young adults I know who have a very strong work ethic. Is it fair to toss them in with the rest of Gen Y?

Over the past decade a host of books have been published on the differences between the generations of workers, with labels like Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Millennials and so on. As you read books like The 2020 Workplace, Bridging the Boomer-Xer Gap, Generations at Work and similar titles, the authors use the differences between the generations to talk about their skills and weaknesses as groups, and how to take advantage of the skills and overcome the weaknesses.

These are very helpful books in dealing with the big picture of the mixed bag which is our employee pool. These authors answer the important question of how we make the most of each generation’s abilities and also smooth over the wrinkles that appear as these generations mix in the workplace.

But at the same time we must recognize that not every individual of a certain age-range is going to be the same as their peers, and that there is a great overlap between these generations. Also, other factors come to bear in what makes people different including other demographic factors and upbringing.

Mary Anne Osborne, in a guest blog for Sage HR, warns us of the risks of age profiling. She states “But of key concern here is not letting externally perceived notions of generational tendencies cloud judgment of character.” The danger of making assumptions about a person based solely on their generational group can lead to costly mistakes in hiring and training.

Osborne give the example of Generation Y, which some characterize as needy, disloyal and self-entitled. And yet this generation has brought us Groupon, Facebook, Tumblr and foursquare.

The key lesson here is to make use of what we know about the general characteristics of each generation while always giving each individual the benefit of the doubt. The old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies here. Don’t judge a person by their “generational cover” – give them a chance to show their true merits.



Is There Fear Within the Walls of Your Company?

“A company’s worst enemy is not always the competition. Sometimes it’s the fear that lives within its own walls.”

This is a very ominous quote from the author of Breaking the Fear Barrier, Tom Rieger. As Senior Practice Expert for Gallup, Rieger draws on the company’s global research across a dozen countries spanning six continents to identify the “fear barrier” and to show how and why fear destroys companies.

Perhaps you’ve experience this in your own company. A person fears that they might lose power, control, parts of their department, etc…, so they put up barriers of bureaucracy to protect their area. These barriers then cause a slow-down in the processes of the company.

Rieger documents three types of barriers:

  • Parochialism: A tendency to force others to view the world from only one perspective or through a narrow filter, when local needs and goals are viewed as more important than broader objectives and outcomes.
  • Territorialism: Hoarding or micromanaging internal headcount, resources, or decision authority in an effort to maintain control.
  • Empire building: Attempts to assert control over people, functions, or resources in an effort to regain or enhance self-sufficiency.

As Rieger observes: “Each level of the pyramid is a defensive response, and each creates rampant bureaucracy — which in turn limits success, crushes employee engagement, and infuses a sense of futility across an organization.”

In our upcoming webinar with Tom Rieger, Breaking the Fear Barrier, he will offer a cohesive and groundbreaking process for breaking down each level of bureaucracy to remove the barriers. Then he will show that by proactively fostering courageous behavior among employees and keeping insidious “courage killers” at bay, leaders can root out fear in their organizations and establish a culture of confidence, engagement, and long-term success.

If fear and the barriers it produces are an issue in your organization, please join us on May 2nd to hear Rieger’s solutions and to ask your questions during the presentation.



Leading Effectively from Anywhere

In the preface to her book The Virtual Executive, Dr. Debra Benton tells a love story. A story of meeting a real-life cowboy and of learning to run her consulting company, with accounts in 19 countries, from a 550-square-foot, 75-year-old cabin on a remote high-mountain ranch with sporadic electricity.

Benton learned to be a virtual executive before it became popular and in the process brought in more money in her first year of remote leadership than in the company’s previous 15-year history. From this experience she has captured principles to teach all executives who are still learning the art of leading virtually.

In her own words Benton states that “My goal is to give you simplicity in a world of complexity.”

One part of the book that I especially appreciated is when she lists her definition of being successful. Here are her measurements of success, in brief:

  •  You are working toward, you are on the brink of, or you have achieved your dream career while you remain a solid citizen.
  • When you communicate – which you have to do all of the time with everyone in some manner or another – you are deemed impressive, memorable, credible, genuine, trusted, liked, competent, confident, comfortable, cool, calm and collected.
  • You feel broadly adequate, and you treat others as broadly adequate too. That means you expect acceptance for what you bring to the table, and you give it to others.
  • People do not care if your style is dictatorial or participative so much; they care because you have goodwill toward them.
  • You fully appreciate the Golden Online/Offline Rule: “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”
  • You understand that when others treat you negatively, it’s because they themselves feel inadequate, do not feel “okay”, are having a bad day, or are upset, and they often attempt to transfer those feelings onto others. However, you do not let them to that to you.
  • You are equally effective in communicating these positive attributes that have contributed to your success whether you are face-to-face, talking on a phone, or e-mailing half way around the world.

Dr. Benton will be sharing her principles for effective virtual communications at our upcoming Soundview Live webinar, Becoming a Virtual Executive, on April 26th. Please join us to learn these crucial techniques for yourself.



Be Exceptional With Three New Summaries

There is a level of performance to which individuals and companies aspire that few can achieve. It’s doubtless that the path to the pinnacle of success requires a good bit of help along the way. Now available on Summary.com are three new Soundview Executive Book Summaries that give executives strategies for three essential parts of a successful business: hiring, team-building, and customer service.

by Joseph Michelli

The Zappos Experience by Joseph Michelli: The Zappos name has come to stand for a new standard of customer service, an amazing online shopping experience, a great place to work, and the most impressive transformational business success story of our time. Simply put, Zappos is revolutionizing business and changing lives. Now, Joseph Michelli, author of the internationally bestselling business books Prescription for Excellence and The Starbucks Experience, explains how Zappos does it — and how you can do it in your industry.

 

 

 

 

by David Novak

Taking People With You by David Novak: There are countless leadership books, but how many will actually help a Taco Bell shift manager, a Fortune 500 CEO, a new entrepreneur, or anyone in between? David Novak’s new book Taking People with You will. Novak knows that managers and leaders can make things happen by one skill: getting people on their side. He offers a step-by-step guide to setting big goals, getting people to work together, blowing past your targets, and celebrating after you shock the skeptics. And then doing it again and again until consistent excellence becomes a core element of your culture.

 

 

 

 

by George Anders

The Rare Find by George Anders: Anyone who recruits talent faces the same basic challenge, whether we work for a big company, a new start-up, a Hollywood studio, a hospital, or the Green Berets. We all wonder how to tell the really outstanding prospects from the ones who look great on paper but then fail on the job. Or, equally important, how to spot the ones who don’t look so good on paper but might still deliver extraordinary performance. Author George Anders sought out the world’s savviest talent judges to see what they do differently from the rest of us. Drawing on the best advice of these and other talent masters, Anders reveals powerful ideas you can apply to your own hiring.

 

 

To download your copies in any of Soundview’s multiple digital formats, visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.

 



All Play and No Work Makes Johnny Worthless

American companies are facing a workforce crisis which is commonly called Generation Y. As companies continue to demand productivity and performance from this new generation of workers, these young employees are not demonstrating the work ethic needed to meet company expectations. And this has affected morale and profitability across the country.

Eric Chester, who is an expert on this new generation, expresses the concern well in his Who’s Really Entitled list, which lays out the expectations that employers have for their workers. On the lighter side, he also communicates the broader issues in his song called The Work Ethic rap.

Chester has some sobering words for American companies: “Parents now focus most of their attention on ensuring that their kids are healthy, happy and have high self-esteem. Meanwhile, schools are facing wide-spread criticism and massive cutbacks, and are concentrating every available resource on increasing test scores and keeping students safe. Therefore, the burden of developing work ethic within the emerging workforce has shifted to employers.”

What is work ethic? In Reviving Work Ethic, Chester defines it as “knowing what to do and doing it. It is marked by an individual’s positive attitude, reliability, professionalism, initiative, respect, integrity, and gratitude.” So how do we instill this is Generation Y when they’ve grown up without it?

Chester’s solution revolves around communication. We need to communicate the knowledge of how to do a job, and then we need to communicate the values behind what we do. He emphasizes that it takes repetition to get across this information. He also makes clear that work ethic thrives best in community, not in isolation. So as workers are trained, there needs to be reinforcement of the values and knowledge from those around them.

Are you struggling with a lack of work ethic in your young workers? Then you’ll greatly benefit from our upcoming Soundview Live webinar Reviving Work Ethic in the Emerging Workforce. Eric Chester will present his experienced view of the next generation of workers and will also be taking questions from participants. Join us on April 19th and learn how to instill work ethic in your employees.



What Is a Healthy Company?

Over the past few years I’ve noticed an increased reference in news articles and books to the subject of organizational health. In a Fortune article back at the end of 2010, Colin Price pointed to the demise of an emphasis solely on performance and a movement toward a more sustainable focus on the health of the organization.

But what does a healthy organization look like? Patrick Lencioni, in his latest book The Advantage, says “an organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent and complete, when its management, operations and culture are unified.” And he goes on to claim that “Healthy organizations outperform their counterparts, are free of politics and confusion and provide an environment where star performers never want to leave.”

Can you imagine an organization free from politics and confusion? But Lencioni says that it’s possible and offers four actionable steps to get there.

  1.  Build a cohesive leadership team – cohesive teams build trust, eliminate politics and increase efficiency.
  2. Create clarity – healthy organizations minimize the potential for confusion.
  3. Over-communicate clarity – healthy organizations align their employees around organizational clarity by communicating key messages.
  4. Reinforce clarity – organizations sustain their health by ensuring consistency.

This is of course only part of the picture, and Lencioni will be filling in the details at our Soundview Live webinar Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else on March 27th. Please join us and bring your questions for Pat.