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Recommended Reading - Managerial Effectiveness


Telling Tales Chronic Time Abuse
What Makes an Effective Executive Understanding "People" People

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Telling Tales  by Stephen Denning, Harvard Business Review, May 2004

 A story can be a powerful way to inspire and encourage people into action. Unlike data and analysis which appeal to the mind, narratives appeal to the heart. Stories are particularly effective motivational tools while operating in unfamiliar territory. A good story must have characters, a plot, turning points and a lesson learned. Some of the situations where stories can be used with great effect are : Sparking action, Introducing yourself , Transmitting values, Fostering collaboration, Taming the grapevine, Sharing knowledge and Leading people into the future. Different stories are appropriate in different situations. For example, if the objective is to spark action, we could use a story that describes how a successful change was implemented in the past. But we should   allow listeners to imagine how it might work in their situation. We must avoid excessive detail that will take the audience's mind off its own challenge. If we are using a story to introduce ourselves, we must use a story that  provides an engaging drama. We must reveal some strength or vulnerability from our past. We must include meaningful details but make sure the audience has the time and inclination to hear the story. The response from the audience  should be: "I didn't know that about him!“

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What Makes an Effective Executive by Drucker, Peter F. Harvard Business Review, Jun2004, pp. 58-63.
 Effectiveness is a discipline. And, like every discipline, it can and must be earned.

Effective effectives follow eight practices: They ask, "What needs to be done?" They also ask, "What is right for the enterprise?" They develop action plans. They take responsibility for decisions. They take responsibility for communicating. They are focused on opportunities rather than problems. They run productive meetings. And they think and say "we" rather than "I." The first two practices provide them with the knowledge they need. The next four help them convert this knowledge into effective action. Drucker also suggests a ninth practice that's so important. In fact,  he elevates it to the level of a rule: Listen first, speak last.

Effective executives know that they have authority only because they have the trust of the organization. They think of the needs and opportunities of the organization before they think of their own needs and opportunities.

For a more detailed account of the subject, one must read Drucker’s book “The Effective Executive.”

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Understanding "People" People by  Butler, Timothy; Waldroop, James. Harvard Business Review, Jun2004, pp. 78-86.

Nearly all areas of business call for interpersonal savvy. Some people can "talk a dog off a meat truck," as the saying goes. Others are great at resolving interpersonal conflicts. Some have a knack for translating high-level concepts for the masses. And others thrive when they are managing a team. Since people are most effective when the work most closely matches their interests, managers can increase productivity by taking into account employees' relational interests and skills when making personnel choices and project assignments.

The authors have identified four dimensions of relational work: influence, interpersonal facilitation, relational creativity, and team leadership. Understanding these four dimensions will help us get optimal performance from employees, appropriately reward their work, and assist them in setting career goals. It will also help us make better choices when it comes to our own career development.

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Chronic Time Abuse by Berglas, Steven. Harvard Business Review, Jun2004, pp. 90-97. 

People who abuse time can be disruptive to a company’s morale and operating efficiency. Real time abuse results from psychological conflict. The time abuser typically has a brittle self-esteem and an unconscious fear of being evaluated and found wanting. This article describes four types of time abusers typically encountered in the workplace:

Perfectionists are afraid of receiving negative feedback. Their work has to be "perfect," so they can increase their likelihood of earning a positive evaluation or at least avoid getting a negative one. Preemptives try to be in control by completing work far earlier than they need to, making themselves unpopular and unavailable in the process. People pleasers commit to far too much work because they find it impossible to say no. Procrastinators make constant excuses to cover the fear of being found inadequate in their jobs.

Managing these four types of people can be challenging. Time abusers respond differently from most other employees to criticism and approval. Praising a procrastinator when he is on time, for instance, will only exacerbate the problem, because he will fear that our expectations are even higher than before. In fact, some time abusers, like the perfectionist, may need professional treatment.

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