Books in Brief


HR Magazine, October 2004The Feiner Points of Leadership; more.

The Feiner Points of Leadership
By Michael Feiner, Warner Business Books, 2004, 286 pages
List price: $25, ISBN: 0-446-53276-2

If you realized that a manager who had to send his pay increase requests to you had instead sent them straight to your boss, because he felt you always said no to deserved raises, would you blow up or try to find out why the manager subverted the process? If your boss said leaving the office at 6 p.m. one day a week to play softball endangered both your career and his, would you meekly agree? Yell an obscenity? Work it out?

These situations happened to Michael Feiner during a career that included a job as chief people officer at PepsiCo Inc. In The Feiner Points of Leadership, he compresses lessons learned from such experiences into 50 “laws” to improve working relationships.

Vital to real leadership is the ability to manage relationships in every direction—not just with subordinates, but also with peers, teams and bosses, Feiner says.

Behind many of Feiner’s laws is the idea of when to push people and when to pull them. Pushing—emphatically asserting your position, expecting people to comply—works at times, but it also can become a one-note technique, easily anticipated and eventually ignored. Leaders also must “pull” at times, using questions, discussion and real involvement to make others want to commit to decisions. Sample dialogues demonstrate wrong and right ways to elicit better performance and get at problems. Feiner also laces his laws with real-life examples.

Among his ideas:

  • Leading subordinates. Leadership isn’t about exercising your own power as much as it is about empowering others, Feiner says. Give feedback that connects the dots between the subordinate’s performance, the team’s performance and the subordinate’s career.
  • Leading bosses. You’re responsible for having a decent relationship even with problem bosses. Commit yourself to your boss’ success even if the boss is a jerk.
  • Leading teams or meetings. Never apologize for being selected as a team leader, even if you’re leading more experienced people. Feiner did this early in his career and paid for it when none of the team members turned up for his first meeting; they didn’t take him seriously.
  • Leading conflict. Leaders need to sell, not command, and use compromise, delegation and collaboration to get people on board during conflicts. Feiner also discusses creating a healthy conflict of ideas.
  • Leading change. Everyone from a retail store manager to a manufacturing line leader must help cut through resistance to make changes. Feiner advocates that leaders manage the nuts and bolts of change and allow people to air their concerns freely. To illustrate, Feiner describes how Pepsi reversed its own organizational pyramid, putting front-line employees at the top because they simply knew more about the business than anyone else.

The Leadership Scorecard
By Jack J. Phillips and Lynn Schmidt, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, 2004, 321 pages
List price: $34.95, ISBN: 0-7506-7764-3

Organizations are increasingly accountable for expenditures, and HR professionals also must justify their programs and show results. Leadership scorecards can help HR assess and put a dollar figure on the benefits of leadership development such as feedback programs, developmental job assignments, mentoring, and professional coaching and leadership training classes.

A leadership scorecard doesn’t create a leadership development program itself; instead, it provides a structure and method for evaluating, analyzing and justifying such programs. Customized for specific users, scorecards can keep leadership development efforts “focused on accomplishing objectives that are linked to business strategy,” say authors Jack J. Phillips, chairman of consulting firm the ROI Institute, and Lynn Schmidt, vice president of Charter Communications, in The Leadership Scorecard, which walks readers through creating a leadership scorecard.

The book provides checklists, questionnaires for both the organization and the leadership program participants, sample forms, lists of tips (such as more than two dozen ways to increase questionnaire response rates), and work sheets to calculate costs and returns on investment.

Phillips and Schmidt illustrate each chapter with a case study showing a leadership scorecard in action and questions to help readers study the example in-depth.

The book identifies areas to examine, including participant satisfaction, acquisition of leadership skills and knowledge, application of those skills and knowledge on the job, return on the monetary investment, and intangible benefits.

Phillips and Schmidt show how to:

  • Design a questionnaire and use tests, simulations, self-assessments and other tools to measure satisfaction and learning.
  • Follow up on how leadership development participants apply skills learned from development programs to their day-to-day work.
  • Use interviews, focus groups and 360-degree feedback to evaluate how development programs changed participants.
  • Use follow-up assignments and performance contracts to examine the program’s effectiveness.
  • Isolate the effects of a leadership program to help determine how much change is due to the program itself and how much is due to other factors.
  • Translate data about the program into monetary values, including differentiating between hard data, such as units produced, and soft data, such as absenteeism. Learn to determine all the costs of your leadership development programs and finally to calculate the return on investment.

The Hidden Power of Social Networks
By Rob Cross and Andrew Parker
Harvard Business School Press, 2004, 213 pages
List price: $29.95, ISBN: 1-59139-270-5

Don’t believe that your organizational chart’s neat boxes connected by straight lines represent how people really relate at work. If you could see the invisible relationships, the resulting tangle would look nothing like your formal chart, but it would give you information that could improve productivity and efficiency, say authors Rob Cross and Andrew Parker in The Hidden Power of Social Networks.

Cross, a University of Virginia assistant professor, and Parker, a research consultant with IBM, emphasize that social networks have a real business impact and, in turn, businesses affect networks—often to the employers’ own detriment. Managers’ actions and organizations’ designs can “unintentionally and invisibly fragment networks,” driving wedges between people who should collaborate.

In a detailed appendix, Cross and Parker show how to analyze the networks in your organization, but most of the book gives steps managers, executives and HR professionals can use to leverage social networks.

Social networks here don’t mean who hangs out with whom at lunch. Networks can cover who goes to whom for information, who energizes others or saps their strength, who has access to certain knowledgeable people, or who becomes a bottleneck because too many people depend on them. Cross and Parker show how to map such relationships.

Uncovering networks shows you who knows what and who has access to those with expertise. Network analysis that asks people whether they feel energized and motivated or “de-energized” by specific individuals helps uncover characteristics of people who energize projects.

Analyzing networks can identify previously unseen problems. For example, a top executive overseeing 200 technicians worldwide spent his time wrestling with e-mails, traveling and putting out fires. He had become a bottleneck, yet others in his network felt underused. The company eased the executive bottleneck by teaching key managers how to better use the peripheral players’ expertise.

You can learn to identify people who span boundaries between groups, those who are information brokers who hold groups together and those on the periphery. Managers and executives can use retreats, meetings and brown-bag lunches to help employees connect and, in particular, to ensure that employees learn about each others’ skills in greater depth.

Cross and Parker note that HR influences networks because it determines who gets hired, how they are developed and what kinds of behavior the employer rewards. Recruiting for collaborative behaviors, actively integrating new hires and focusing performance evaluations on how well employees work collaboratively are some ways HR can support networks.

Shaping the Future
By William P. Belgard and Steven R. Rayner
AMACOM, 2004, 224 pages
List price: $27.95, ISBN: 0-8144-0777-3

William P. Belgard and Steven R. Rayner want to help top managers and executives articulate clear, detailed strategic visions for their organizations—strategic visions that are neither full of vague platitudes about change nor so bogged down in short-term goals that they ignore the big picture.

Shaping the Future looks first at the major business and cultural shifts already affecting organizations and managers. It finds that:

  • Customer-centered quality initiatives require businesses to know customers so well that they almost anticipate customers’ needs and wants. The Ritz-Carlton hotels, with their guest profiles that can record what pillow you prefer and have it ready next time you visit, is an example of such customer-centered quality.
  • Firms must operate on “Internet time,” meaning companies must release products, develop services and serve customers six or seven times faster than before.
  • More than ever, customers expect more value for less money.
  • Physical workspace is a burden to many firms. In the 1990s, AT&T saved $550 million by consolidating and eliminating office space.

These changes create pressures that often drive grandiose plans for change, but 31 percent of major change initiatives die before implementation, say Belgard, founder of the Belgard Group consulting firm in Beaverton, Ore., and Rayner, founder of Rayner & Associates, a consulting and training firm in Freeland, Wash. They spotlight several sectors where employers are embracing serious changes—from the food companies that are making the food supply’s security a new priority to the accounting firms that are rebuilding public trust.

Prepare for resistance by seeking teachable moments when you can mold people’s perceptions about change initiatives, such as when they’re new to the organization, in a new position, working on a special project or dealing with a crisis, the authors note.

Compiled by Leigh Rivenbark, a freelance writer and editor based in Vienna, Va.

Inclusion of a book does not imply endorsement by SHRM or HR Magazine.


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