Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Don’t Miss These Great New Summaries!

Summer is known to be a time for blockbusters in the entertainment industry. Although the start date seems to be earlier each year, it’s generally accepted that by the middle of June, we’re well into a stretch of time that sees multiple big-budget, highly-anticipated films debuting every Friday in theaters across the nation.

I bring this up because the latest edition of Soundview Executive Book Summaries could easily be described as a summer blockbuster. We’ve got three incredible summaries for readers this month featuring some serious star-power in the author department. Let’s take a look at the titles in this exciting triple-feature:

For those who enjoy a great story as part of their learning experience, we start our latest edition with Patrick Lencioni’s Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty. Lencioni, an expert at weaving fiction and strong business applications together, tells the tale of Jack, a consultant tasked with learning about a competitor his company recently acquired. Jack learns a surprising lesson about why absolute transparency can create intense loyalty in customers.

Innovation is a topic that continues to garner a great deal of interest among our subscribers. The U.S. is engaged in an ongoing race with developing nations to maintain an economic presence in the innovation arena. With this in mind, Adam Richards offers Innovation X: Why a Company’s Toughest Problems are Its Greatest Advantage. Richards offers an intriguing argument that defines a new class of business problems — X-Problems. These tough new challenges thwart conventional planning but present massive innovation opportunities.

Finally, we take a look at the building blocks of a great organization. While CEOs tend to garner attention from internal and external audiences, there are individuals in an organization who are an indispensable part of the company’s success. Marketing mastermind Seth Godin terms these individuals “linchpins” and his new book Linchpins: Are You Indispensable? helps readers understand how to exude the attributes of the linchpin employee.

Like I said, it’s a real blockbuster this month! It’s a great time to subscribe to Soundview. Also, each of the above summaries are available for individual purchase for low, low prices. The online edition of each summary is only $8.50. Depending on where you live, that’s less than the price of a movie ticket … and unlike the occasional big-budget action film, these summaries won’t disappoint.



Great Tips on How To Hire

One of the most important aspects of an executive’s arsenal of skills is the ability to make smart hiring decisions. I contacted management expert Gerry Czarnecki for more information. He provided this guest blog post with some essential tips on hiring.

How to Hire

By Gerry Czarnecki, author of Lead with Love

Most leaders know that the most important, and possibly most difficult decision they will make is also the first decision they will make: the hiring decision. Unfortunately, most leaders are also simply not well prepared to make that decision. All too often, the bright, articulate and outgoing leader will make one fatal mistake in an interview process: talking too much. In an interview, the leader should spend 5% of the time talking and 95% of the time listening. If not, you’re not interviewing, you’re making a speech.

But assuming you are listening, how do you look for the right qualities in a candidate? My most important technique is to do a behavioral interview and listen intently. I also use aggressive follow-up questions to drill down on the experiences of the candidate. Here are some qualities you want in an ideal candidate:

1)    Values – Does this person share our organizational values? If not, then he or she will eventually be a misfit.

2)    Intelligence – It makes no sense to hire somebody who does not have the intellect to understand and complete the complex task of our modern world based in technology and an expanding base of knowledge.

3)    Desire – You want someone with the drive to achieve.

4)    Communication – In an organization, all associates must possess the ability to communicate complex ideas in a simple way. I always try to distinguish people who talk from people who communicate.

5)    Logic – The application of logical thinking and the ability to look for root cause of results is an essential trait in today’s competitive business landscape.

If you’re hiring a manager, there is one additional, essential quality to consider: the capacity to Love. This trait is in line with my message in Lead with Love. The core concept of the book is essential to a successful leader. Leaders must see their staff as humans first and resources second. Leaders can not allow themselves to be biased by the idea of liking or disliking individuals, they must love all their staff as humans. The well-being of all associates and the ability for the organization to achieve its goals is driven by the team is what creates the jobs and keeps them viable.

With over 40 years of experience as a leader, Gerry Czarnecki has been consistently committed to sharing his experience and vision by coaching organizations to achieve peak performance. Czarnecki helps companies achieve success by teaching effective leadership, focused strategy, superior organization and sound financial management.

For more information visit Gerry online at these sites:

LeadwithLove.com

GerryCzarnecki.com

And don’t forget Soundview’s newest summaries! Click here to see what”s new.



Walking a Tightrope in HR

If you look closely at many of my posts, you’ll notice that I rarely give out any personal details. Truth be told, I’m quite a private person, despite the fact that I communicate with all of you a few times each week. I sometimes feel as though the continued dominance of social media in our lives has led people to willingly give  up their privacy with nary a second thought.

Strangely, some of the same folks who don’t mind posting photos from a company happy hour on their Facebook pages are likely to bristle at corporate requests for info for a health and wellness survey. They may not have a choice in the near future. This article from CNNMoney.com discusses the increase in Human Resource departments asking employees to fill out a health and wellness questionnaire prior to enrolling in the company’s health insurance program.

I found this article to be loaded with the type of issues that define life in today’s corporate world. The survey can ask an employee about the number of alcoholic drinks he or she consumes each week. However, it can’t ask the same employee whether or not there is a history of cancer in his or her family. This is due to a fear of lawsuits due to genetic discrimination. To help ensure employee cooperation, some companies are offering incentives such as lower insurance premiums for workers willing to participate in smoking cessation programs. Yet, companies are at risk if they bar employees coverage for not agreeing to fill out the survey.

However, I think my favorite quote from the article is this one: “Maybe you think you’ll fudge the truth? Don’t. That’s fraud, and could be grounds for dismissal.” I can almost guarantee that some people reading that statement would reply, “How will they ever know?” I suspect that these are the same folks that would thrill us with a Twitter tweet about low cigarette prices at a local gas station.

Human Resource professionals are in a bind that I, for one, do not envy. As they continue to walk a tightrope between lowering their health care expenses and breaching privacy issues, one has to wonder whether it will be employee or employer who has to make the biggest changes.

For a great read on the difficulties facing HR departments (and how to solve them), check out our summary of The HR Scorecard by Brian Becker, Mark Huselid and Dave Ulrich.



Working With “Y”

I was tempted to write a clever introduction concerning whether or not members of Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 1999) are in your midst. Then I realized something vital: this is a blog … on the Internet. There is no other generation who has lived the double-life of virtual and physical existence more than this group. Something tells me that of the numerous readers I have, a good portion of you probably count your birthday somewhere between the years listed above. So, let me start over …

This article came up from the folks at the Guardian in the United Kingdom. While I think the first sentence in the article does more than its share of negative stereotyping, it’s interesting to see that the subject of Gen Y in the workplace continues to get press. We’ve covered it ourselves, both in summaries and in reviews. We’re at a critical juncture in the history of the American work force, and it seems to me that everyone is a touch anxious over where we will go. Suffice to say, Gen Y is currently experiencing one of the roughest job markets in which to enter a work force.

One also has to appreciate the fact that Baby Boomers, the generation that in its youth shifted the focus of everyone from advertisers to political campaigners to the young, are now scratching their greying heads trying to figure out what’s going on with “these kids.” My years may be showing here, but I seem to recall coming of age in an era of economic uncertainty where foreign war made headlines and the environment, social issues and the generation gap were on the minds of many. Throw in a reference to Facebook and an e-mail address, and we’d be looking at Gen Y, wouldn’t we?

The more things change …

P.S.: I mentioned that we reviewed a book on Gen Y. To read it, and dozens of others for FREE, simply sign up at Summary.com.



Slacking: A Business Reality?

While engaged in one of my favorite activities (trolling various publishers’ Web sites to check out upcoming business book releases), I came across a title that’s set to debut next week. A title like Instant Turnaround grabs one’s attention pretty quickly. The premise is even more interesting. Authors Harry Paul and Ross Reck explore a subject that might prove sensitive for both executive and employee: Do people intentionally “gear-down” their efforts as a way to retaliate for perceived mistreatment?

According to the authors, this is a “business reality,” and it can hit any level of an organization.  Fortunately, they provide solutions to help executives tap the wellspring of employee enthusiasm that may be held in reserve. I found it interesting that even in difficult economic times, people still hesitate to give their all. However, this can often be the result of an incorrect assumption that a company is nearing a round of layoffs or considering cutting perks and pay. Instant Turnaround should serve as a reminder to executives everywhere that communication is essential to keep employees motivated and on the same page as the company.

This book also appears to capitalize on a growing trend of writing a parable to illustrate the book’s main concepts. With any luck, Paul and Reck will be able to create a parable that can stack up to the master of a similar technique, Patrick Lencioni. His use of leadership fables has served him well through more than a half-dozen releases.

It’s obvious that none of the above authors lack any motivation when it comes to producing valuable work. Speaking of which, it’s about time I got back to my editorial duties.



Hiring Right the First Time
December 8, 2008, 8:32 PM
Filed under: Human Resources | Tags: ,

When bringing on a new employee, you want to be sure that you have selected the best person for the position, no questions asked. In Geoff Smart and Randy Street’s new book, they have an answer to your No. 1 problem: hiring mistakes.

 

In the multi-list bestseller, Who: The A Method for Hiring, the authors have taken it upon themselves to set you straight about hiring solid people, especially since, according to them, “you are who you hire.” Smart and Street—chairman/CEO and president, respectively of ghSMART, a management assessment firm for CEOs and investors—offer a four-step process for hiring the right people for your company, with a 90 percent success rate, as well as show readers how to avoid a $1.5 million single hiring mistake (youch!). The goal, they claim, is to find A players to join your team to increase their success, as well as your own.                                                       

 

Endorsements hail from many, including President and CEO Robert Gillette of Honeywell Aerospace: “Seventy percent of the game is finding the right people, putting them in the right position, listening to them, and alleviating what gets in their way. Who is a practical guide to making sure you get the right people to start with! Excellent advice and guide.”

 

If interested, add their blog to your RSS feed so you can stay up to date with Smart and Street.



Hiring for the White House
November 17, 2008, 3:56 PM
Filed under: Human Resources, Leadership | Tags: ,

President-elect Barack Obama will have his plate full for the next year (at least) with important tasks: setting the tone for his first term in office, selecting a family dog, and nominating nearly 500 people to cabinet and subcabinet posts.

 

This number has grown in leaps and bounds since the days of George Washington, with his Cabinet of four (Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War and Attorney General). According to the article “Our tottering confirmation processpublished back in 2002—though still relevant—the nominating or “hiring” process for Cabinet members takes up a large chunk of a President’s first year in office. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush took approximately 8.5 months to select their Cabinet appointees and get them approved and sworn in by the Supreme Court.

 

Perhaps Obama would benefit from a book recently published in November by Portfolio: There’s No Elevator to the Top: A Leading Headhunter Shares the Advancement Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Executives. Written by Umesh Ramakrishan, vice chairman of CTPartners—a global executive search firm—the book gives its readers a look at what it’s like to reach the top of a major company. Now sure, you could say Obama is already at the top, but this book could help him quickly pick out key qualities that he should look for when selecting his Cabinet appointees. From a write-up by Publisher’s Weekly: “The advice Ramakrishman elicits from the executives delves into such areas as the importance of choosing only ‘A’ players when seeking to assemble a strong team and striving for a flatter organizational structure to promote communication and information flow.” It sounds like Obama could learn a lot from this book. For the rest of us, There’s No Elevator to the Top can over guidance and challenge us to bring our A-game.