Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Book Review: Topgrading

by Bradford Smart, Ph.D.

The challenge of making a good hire continues to prove difficult for a number of organizations. According to author Bradford D. Smart, statistics show that three out of every four hiring decisions result in a situation in which the wrong person ends up in the wrong job. Smart, an acclaimed management psychologist, conducted more than 6,000 interviews over a span of three decades to strike at the heart of why companies make so many hiring mistakes. The result is his book Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People. Soundview Executive Book Summaries is now offering a summary of the revised edition of Topgrading in multiple digital formats.

Executives know that a company performs at its peak when it is staffed with top talent. Smart labels this group “A players.” In Topgrading, he guides readers through the process of finding and hiring more A players. Topgrading has a distinct advantage over similar books on human resources management. Smart balances the process of finding A players with rewarding existing A players on staff. He also is unafraid to answer the question about the remaining portion of a company’s work force: B and C players. In the summary, Smart provides an alternative that emphasizes the positive rather than putting more employees through a revolving door.

Readers will appreciate Smart’s level of honesty and the practicality of his solutions. The methods described in Topgrading will prove valuable to a business regardless of its size. The current economic climate creates a zero margin for hiring and handling talent. Smart provides the tools necessary to keep costs at the bottom while pushing your company to the top.

To get your copy of the summary of the revised edition of Topgrading visit Soundview’s Web site Summary.com.



Who Are the Real Decision-Makers in Your Company?

When a major decision is being made in your company, who’s in the room? Is it the boss and a group of his or her confidants? Or is it the boss and his senior management team?

Bob Frisch contends that in many companies, it’s a group of the boss’s confidants, a “team with no name” that exists outside formal processes. And, surprisingly, he makes the case that this is the way it ought to be.

Frisch explains, “Senior teams have undeniable strengths, and they are in a unique position to do things that no other group in the organization can do as well. Making big decisions isn’t one of them—for very good reasons that will be dissected here. Unless the senior team’s limitations are understood and its genuine strengths put to work, the blame and frustration on all sides will continue.”

This is quite a stance to take, but it comes from Frisch’s many years of consulting with top companies. His stated goal is “that by understanding the nature of executive decision-making, executives and the members of their senior teams can stop beating up themselves and each other.”

Perhaps you’re in that senior management category, or you’re the boss that’s trying to make the best decisions and are drawing flack from management. If so then you’ll benefit from our upcoming webinar with Bob Frisch entitled Transforming Decision-Making.

Grab your lunch and your management team, and join us on February 9th to see how you can improve your decision-making process, while helping top management understand where they fit in as well.



Taking the Contrarian View in Business

Have you noticed how some business authors purposely take the contrary view to current business thinking? Sometimes it’s just to get attention for their book, but generally their intention is to get us to think outside the box, to let our minds break out of the assumptions we’ve heard so often that we believe they must be true.

I thought it would be fun to scan the recent few months of books that we’re seeing at Soundview to look for some examples. Here’s what I found (I’ve provided the Amazon links for your reference):

I think there’s a lesson for us in this list of contrarian titles. Are we too set in our ways? Have we become comfortable running our businesses by maxims that may no longer be true?

Perhaps it would be healthy to take a step back as we’re about to make an important decision to take the contrarian view for a moment. Have I missed something here? Are there more ways to look at this issue? We might even invite our staff to provide contrarian views without repercussions.

Let me know how this works for you.



Book Review: Breaking the Fear Barrier

by Tom Rieger

When an executive looks at the state of his or her company, there may be problem areas that are easy to notice. For example, a department whose projects are consistently delayed or brought in over budget. The difficult part of an executive’s job is digging beneath the surface to find the root cause of the problem. According to author Tom Rieger, the primal emotion of fear may manifest itself in ways that can derail even the most technical aspects of a business. His book Breaking the Fear Barrier: How Fear Destroys Companies from the Inside Out and What to Do About It is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Fear can create a workplace environment in which self-preservation leads to destructive practices. Rieger discusses the walls that individuals and departments build and how to knock them down. The book’s brevity means readers receive maximum benefit for their investment of time. He presents the “pyramid of bureaucracy,” a model for the way fear builds upon fear in organizations. He gives detailed analyses of each level of the pyramid: parochialism, territorialism, and empire building.

One aspect of Rieger’s book that may surprise readers is his contention that many of the barriers created in the workplace are self-imposed. While a manager may heartily agree with the notion that his or her employees are responsible for their own problems, the idea is more difficult to accept when the spotlight is turned on the executive. However, Rieger’s breakdown of how to eliminate fear will only benefit those readers who are honest enough with themselves to admit that fear is causing an issue.

To get your copy of the Soundview Executive Book Summary of Breaking the Fear Barrier, visit Soundview’s Web site, Summary.com.



Book Review: The Performance Pipeline

by Stephen Drotter

When companies examine the impact of leadership in their organizations, many of them take a top-down view. This runs counter to current wisdom, reflected in books such as John Maxwell’s The 360 Degree Leader, that every person has the opportunity to lead up, across and down in an organization. For organizations that want to increase the effectiveness of leadership and performance at every level of a company, the challenge becomes finding the best methods to develop those future leaders and get each level of an organization to perform quarter after quarter.

Stephen Drotter, author and CEO of Drotter Human Resources, has more than 40 years experience with ensuring that companies have more than one pair of capable hands into which to entrust their future, not to mention the present. His book The Performance Pipeline: Getting the Right Performance at Every Level of Leadership is an excellent leadership insurance policy for companies that are looking to the future. It’s also the newest summary available from Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

Drotter worked with more than 100 organizations around the globe to refine the process of creating a Performance Pipeline. The book provides readers with a fascinating breakdown of a company’s various levels. Drotter covers the expectations, requirements and results at every level. This assessment will create some surprises for readers. Drotter’s descriptions of the functions of a particular level, such as Function Managers, may be different from how the position currently operates in a reader’s company. With that in mind, Drotter does an excellent job of reinforcing the reasons why readers need to realign job responsibilities to focus on the specific deliverables he describes. Drotter succeeds in creating a readable, applicable plan that has enough flexibility (or, context, as he puts it) to make it take the shape of the organization to which it is applied.

To get your copy of the summary of The Performance Pipeline, visit Soundview’s Web site, www.Summary.com.



The Decision to Trust

I ran across a 2010 article by the Pew Research Center entitled Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor. Some of the numbers were surprising and discouraging. We are currently at our lowest level of trust in government since before 1978. Barack Obama has the lowest trust rating of any president over the past eight administrations, including Richard Nixon.

And this isn’t just a trend in our view of the government. The Pew research also shows a low rating of trust in banks, large corporations, national news media, the entertainment industry and labor unions. Those organizations in which we have high trust include colleges & universities, churches, small businesses, and technology companies.

I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised then that there is a new trend in business books around the topic of trust. Stephen M.R. Covey just released his second book on trust called SmartTrust. Other recent books include Liars and Outliers by Bruce Schneier, Trust Agents by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith, and The Decision to Trust by Robert Hurley.

Hurley’s book is especially interesting in that he not only makes a strong case for the importance of trust in organizations, he also provides the steps to building trust at all levels. Here is what Hurley promises that we can learn and do about trust:

•Make better decisions concerning who to trust, to avoid harm and increase pressure on untrustworthy agents to reform themselves.

• Allocate your trust building energy better by appreciating how different people approach the trust decision.

• Identify the root cause of trust issues based on 10 trust factors.

• Offer concrete interventions and reforms that can enhance trust in each of the 10 trust

factors.

• Clarify in which situations building and repairing trust can work and those where it

may not work.

• Provide a method for enhancing trust at different levels: with a person, within teams,

across teams, across national cultures, within organizations, and in leadership.

If you found yourself nodding with agreement at the lack of trust in your organization, then you might benefit from our upcoming Soundview Live webinar with Robert Hurley, How to Create a High-Trust Organization. Hurley will discuss the trust crisis in detail and, more importantly, tell us how to turn things around.



Start 2012 with Three New Summaries!

As you settle into the first quarter of 2012 you’ll need to stay current with the latest trends in business. To help you achieve your goal, make sure you check out the three newest summaries now available from Soundview Executive Book Summaries:

by Stephen Drotter

The Performance Pipeline by Stephen Drotter: From the co-author of the bestselling book The Leadership Pipeline, comes the next-step resource designed to help leaders at every level succeed in an uncertain business environment. The Performance Pipeline is a groundbreaking book that is based on Stephen Drotter’s forty years of in-depth work with more than 100 companies worldwide. The book defines how work flows from top to bottom and reveals what results each layer must produce and what each layer must pass down to make the layers below successful.

 

 

 

 

by Tom Rieger

Breaking the Fear Barrier by Tom Rieger: In companies, fear can take many forms: fear of not meeting a deadline, of not getting a bonus, of losing decision rights and respect. Fear compels employees and managers to protect themselves by creating seemingly impenetrable barriers fortified by rules and practices that benefit one group while harming others. By learning from the real-world lessons in this book, leaders, managers, and employees can overcome the barriers that plague their company. The results promise to be transformational.

 

 

 

 

by Bradford D. Smart

Topgrading by Bradford D. Smart, Ph.D.: Great companies don’t just depend on strategies — they depend on people. The more great people on your team, the more successful your organization will be. But that’s easier said than done. Statistically, half of all employment decisions result in a miss-hire: The wrong person winds up in the wrong job. But companies that have followed Bradford Smart’s advice in Topgrading have boosted their successful hiring rate to 90 percent or better, giving them an unbeatable competitive advantage.

 

 

 

Don’t forget, Soundview also offers exclusive interviews, Webinars, video content and corporate learning opportunities.

To learn more, visit Soundview’s Web site, Summary.com.



Operating with High-Trust in a Low-Trust World

In January of 2012, Stephen M.R. Covey will publish a follow-up to his best-seller The Speed of Trust. This is his introduction to the book:

“Following one of our presentations on The Speed of Trust, a man made his way backstage to ask a question that was obviously troubling him deeply. “Are you really serious about this?” he asked incredulously. “Are there really more than just a few people out there who operate with the kind of trust you’re talking about?” This man lived and worked in a country that was ripe with corruption, deception, and massive distrust. He was clearly feeling deeply torn. He sincerely wanted to believe what we’d said but was finding it almost impossible in the context of his environment.”

I don’t think you need to leave the U.S. to find similar concerns and doubts about trusting others in the workplace. We see evidence of business people who can’t be trusted ever day in the news.

So how do we take advantage of the “speed of trust” that Covey introduced in his earlier book? Covey and his partner at Covey-Link, Greg Link, propose a “smart trust” that can work even in the midst of our low-trust environment. They describe the five actions trust companies have in common, that allow them to exercise smart trust:

  1. Choose to believe in trust.
  2. Start with self.
  3. Declare your intent . . . and assume positive intents in others.
  4. Do what you say you’re going to do.
  5. Lead out in extending trust to others.

Perhaps you have similar questions and doubts about trust in your company and business field. If so then you’ll want to join us on January 5th to hear Covey explain the details of this concept and take questions from participants. The Five Key Actions to Creating Smart Trust webinar is free for Soundview subscribers, and is Covey’s first engagement around the publication of the book.



A Holiday Gift: Three Great Business Book Summaries

As we approach the last leg of the mad dash toward the holiday season, many people are looking forward to a few well-earned days away from the office. Please notice I didn’t write “days off” because today’s marketplace forces executives to stay plugged-in even when their office lights are off. Time away from the office is a great time to catch up on the latest insights from today’s best business authors. To that end, Soundview Executive Book Summaries has three new releases that should help executives prepare for a prosperous new year.

by Laurie Bassi, et. al.

Good Company by Laurie Bassi, Ed Frauenheim and Dan McMurrer with Larry Costello. Laurie Bassi and her co-authors show that despite the dispiriting headlines, we are entering what they coin the “Worthiness Era.” And in it, the good guys are poised to win. Across the globe, people are choosing the companies in their lives in the same way they choose the guests they invite into their homes. They are demanding that companies be “good company.” The authors created the Good Company Index to look at Fortune 100 companies’ records as employers, sellers and stewards of society and the planet. The results are clear: worthiness pays off.

 

 

by Marcus Buckingham

StandOut by Marcus Buckingham. StandOut introduces the next-generation strengths assessment from Marcus Buckingham, co-author of Now, Discover Your Strengths. The StandOut assessment unveils your two key strength roles and shows you how to find your edge and win at work. Whether you’re an individual who wants to find your edge, a manager trying to fully understand the strengths of your team, or a leader in an organization looking to stay on the cutting edge of the strengths movement, you need StandOut.

 

 

 

by Craig Wasserman and Doug Katz

The Invisible Spotlight by Craig Wasserman and Doug Katz. Based on four decades of experience as management consultants, Wasserman and Katz make a compelling argument that all managers work in the heat of an invisible spotlight where their every word and deed are scrutinized by employees. Remarkably, most executives are unaware of this reality. The authors tell illuminating stories from the trenches about management successes and misadventures that offer a fresh, practical perspective on building sound management relationships.

 

 

 

In addition to this trio of titles, Soundview is providing a fantastic holiday offer. For a limited time, if you purchase one gift subscription to Soundview Executive Book Summaries, you will receive a second gift subscription FREE! Take advantage of this limited-time offer to reward a great client or show your appreciation for a helpful colleague. Click here to get your gift subscriptions while the offer lasts and to see full offer details!

For more information on the latest business books, visit Soundview’s Web site, Summary.com.



What You’ve Been Missing …

Have you heard recent editions of Soundview’s Author Insight Series? If not, you missed some great conversations with today’s best business authors. Each month, Soundview features downloadable interviews with an array of best-selling business authors. These 10-minute audio clips make a great companion to Soundview’s 30 Best Business Books summaries. If you’re a Soundview subscriber, now is a great time to catch up on what you’ve been missing. Here’s a sampling of some of the most memorable quotes from recent guests:

“Clearly you want to know what your core competencies are but if you stick solely to what those competencies are, it’s like driving by only looking in the rearview mirror.” – Stephen Wunker, author of Capturing New Markets.

“The dialogue around innovation has been way too skewed toward differentiation, as if that were the only problem to solve and the answer to all problems, which just isn’t true.” – Geoffrey A. Moore, author of Escape Velocity.

“If you don’t believe in the messenger, you won’t believe the message.” – Jim Kouzes, co-author (with Barry Posner) of Credibility.

“Part of the curse of knowledge [carried by] senior executives is that they will be deeply familiar with ‘the numbers,’ but the numbers just won’t resonate with the rest of the organization.” – Colin Price, co-author (with Scott Keller) of Beyond Performance.

“We have it in our heads that technology distances people … I completely disagree. I think that things like e-mail and Twitter and Facebook have enabled me to have many, many more relationships all over the world.” – Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment.

You can hear more from the best business authors by visiting Soundview’s Web site, Summary.com.