Books in Brief

By Leigh Rivenbark Dec 1, 2004

HR Magazine, December 2004

Trainer’s Diversity Source Book

By Jonamay Lambert and Selma Myers
Society for Human Resource Management and American Society for Training & Development, 2004
224 pages, List price: $59.95, ISBN: 1-58644-063-2

An inclusive organization—one in which employees feel valued and appreciated—means good things for business, and learning about diversity is essential to building and developing such an organization. But implementing a successful diversity training program requires effective tools and resources, a number of which can be found in the Trainer’s Diversity Source Book.

In the book, authors Jonamay Lambert and Selma Myers provide dozens of brief activities from icebreakers to team- building exercises to conflict resolution practices. The authors also supply several diversity training resources, including a list of web sites that track trends in diversity training, templates for diversity-related communications and a list of materials included on the accompanying CD-ROM.

Effective icebreakers help create a welcome environment that encourages participation, the authors say. In one exercise, the trainer calls out a trait or behavior, such as “likes to fish,” and asks people to stand if they fall into that category. Some people may be surprised at what they have in common with others, and forming these connections will help participants open up.

Lambert and Myers also present activities that help build inclusive and successful teams. One activity asks participants to describe their attitudes toward commitment. Another has them complete a team diversity assessment that can be used to measure team effectiveness.

When wrapping up diversity training, it is often helpful to allow participants to reflect privately first and then with the group. The authors suggest asking participants to develop an action plan or a timeline for addressing diversity issues, or having them write “words of wisdom” about the benefits of diversity as though they were writing a fortune cookie statement.

Lambert and Myers also give examples of how trainers can effectively handle certain sensitive discussions. “Remember that when facilitating value-related discussions, the goal is not necessarily to reach consensus. Rather, it is to help participants see beyond their personal outlooks and examine how their values may play out for others,” they say.

The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle

By James C. Hunter
Crown Business, 2004

224 pages, List price: $23, ISBN: 1-4000-5334-X

Namby-pamby, fuzzy—you can’t throw James C. Hunter a term he hasn’t already heard in criticism of the “servant leader” idea. Hunter addresses servant leadership’s soft reputation and offers a surprise: Real servant leaders should be tough, even “autocratic,” at times, when it comes to company vision and values.

In The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle, Hunter outlines steps for becoming a leader who helps others become their best, benefiting them, the leader and the company. The book isn’t just for CEOs, he notes; anyone at any level can exercise servant leadership.

Hunter, head of J.D. Hunter Associates, the leadership training and development firm, discusses what leadership is and isn’t: It’s not management, which means planning, budgeting and organizing, and it’s not being the boss. Leaders don’t have to be in charge to influence others. Leadership isn’t equivalent to personal style. Hunter says leadership is a skill you can develop, not some innate quality. Leaders need character, which he defines as “our moral maturity and commitment to doing the right thing, regardless of the personal costs.”

Managers who rely on strong-arm, power-based leadership not only lack true influence but also may face litigation. Legitimate leadership comes from “service and sacrifice,” meaning “if you get your people what they need they will get you everything you need,” Hunter says. To anyone who argues that he doesn’t want to be Mother Teresa at work, Hunter adds that servant leadership means appreciating people, listening and enabling them to do well, not saving them daily.

The book’s second half provides steps for becoming a servant leader. Hunter offers a three-step program that can be used by a whole organization, a smaller group or an individual who wants to become a better leader, even without company support. First, leaders need to articulate how they are supposed to behave and what the consequences are if they don’t behave that way.

Feedback, the second step, helps participants understand how they vary from the standards of leadership. Using the Leadership Skills Inventory appendix, you can rank yourself and have others rank you on issues such as how you hold people accountable, show patience, listen, behave fairly and consistently, or help develop subordinates. The third step is closing the gaps between how you should behave as a leader and how you’re actually behaving as shown on the skills inventory.

Flexible Leadership

By Gary Yukl and Richard Lepsinger
Jossey-Bass, 2004

270 pages List price: $44, ISBN: 0-7879-6531-6

Insurance company Wellpoint Health Network takes succession planning so seriously that it requires all managers to oversee their direct reports’ career development. Managers’ own performance appraisals reflect how well their bosses think they did at helping develop others’ careers.

Wellpoint’s development system is an example of how planning can enhance a company’s human resources and, in the end, its bottom line. HR is a major component of Flexible Leadership, which in part examines the HR challenges companies face.

Gary Yukl, a management professor at the State University of New York at Albany, and Richard Lepsinger, a vice president of consulting firm Right Management Consultants, set out to explain the pressures company leaders face and to prescribe requirements for effective leadership.

The book’s leadership model looks at three components affecting organizational performance: efficiency and reliability, innovation and adaptation, and human resources and human relations. For each component the book lays out positive and negative examples, discusses programs and systems that contribute to each, and delves into specific leadership behaviors that make positive contributions.

HR initiatives affect business results, Yukl and Lepsinger say. A university study of 3,000 companies found that spending 10 percent of revenue on capital improvements increased productivity by 3.9 percent, but a similar investment in human capital increased productivity by 8.5 percent.

Some HR improvements, such as expenditures on work/life programs, can reduce efficiency by raising costs, the authors say. But efficiency drives that cut salaries, training and benefits can “undermine human relations” and increase turnover. Leaders weigh these trade-offs.

Leadership behaviors to enhance HR include supporting people by showing concern and consideration, especially when employees’ personal problems affect performance. Business benefits from supportive management. For example, a manager at a cleaning firm watched turnover drop from 100 percent to 12 percent when he began helping his mostly immigrant workforce with language classes, immigration issues and training.

Recognition is another HR leadership behavior that is underused. Yukl and Lepsinger say recognition can cover colleagues and bosses as well as your direct reports, should be timely and specific, and can focus on how average performers are improving, not just on how stellar performers do.

Flexible Leadership also shows how:

  • Leaders can enhance efficiency through systematic planning that involves different levels of the organization; clarifying roles and guidelines; and monitoring operations and performance. The book also looks at efficiency impacts of programs such as total quality management, Six Sigma, downsizing and outsourcing.

  • Leaders can influence innovation and adaptive ability if they make them part of the company culture, rather than reacting suddenly to dramatic market changes.


By Joanne Cini
Prentice Hall, 2004 

245 pages List price: $22.95, ISBN: 0-13-184030-4

Who’s a kingmaker? Anyone whose great work helps his manager reach the manager’s goals can be a kingmaker—the go-to person, the consistent worker whom everyone wants on the team.

The challenge, Joanne Cini says, is to become “an aware kingmaker,” one who knows his own value to the company but remains true to himself. Kingmakers aren’t subservient or sycophantic, Cini adds; they’re known for meeting the company’s objectives as well as focusing on their careers.

Cini wants readers at all levels to see where they fit into their companies’ office politics, how they personally affect the bottom line and what they should know about their bosses.

She advocates having a “freedom plan,” which enables you to leave a toxic workplace with confidence that you have the financial cushion to survive without having to tolerate a bad boss or 24/7 hours any longer. She backs her idea with self-assessment tools to help readers determine where they are financially and in their careers.

Cini, a veteran of 24 years in the television industry’s management and executive ranks, opens with chapters asking readers to consider how they truly feel about working for corporate profit, dealing with office politics, handling lost promotions and dealing with workplace competition. She urges readers to learn about finance and think about whether their jobs feed their interests and passions, not just their personal income.

Understanding managers’ stresses and styles helps you know how to approach them. Learn whether your boss is a detail lover or a big-picture thinker, social or analytical. If you have a “trickster” boss—a slacker who gets by and takes credit for others’ work—you can draw on Cini’s discussion of whether to deal with it, confront it or get out from under it.

Cini emphasizes the career importance of losing with dignity. How do you handle it when that promotion goes to someone else? What if you feel you need to leave your job after being passed over; will things really be different elsewhere?

Finding a champion with real clout in the organization is key, Cini says. This likely is someone over your direct manager’s head, and Cini addresses how to get your manager to help you approach your champion (and how to get to this mentor if your manager doesn’t like the idea). She gives tips for finding champions and sharing your work with them.

Kingmakers must value themselves if they want to be valuable to their employers. Cini recommends examining whether the company’s values match your own. Do a daily personal review to take stock of what went well and what could have been done better. Staying abreast of management trends and technology and volunteering for new initiatives help increase your value.

Individual employees can affect a company’s profit, Cini says. Her steps for increasing your contribution to the bottom line include hiring well and working to keep key people; ferreting out redundancy; asking customers what works; and understanding the firm’s business plans.

Kingmakers should be consistent employees who anticipate tasks in advance, own up when they err and never act territorial.

Cini recognizes that while you’re impressing the boss you may be dealing with feelings that rankle. How do you handle caustic remarks, embarrassments or intentional attempts to cut you out of customer meetings or social functions important to your career? She outlines steps from dealing with people directly to approaching HR formally.

“Your value as a contributor gives you the right to be careful and selective about the people you give your talent to,” she writes. She gives tips on how to assess a potential boss during a job interview and how to check out a company’s background and commitment to career planning.

Compiled by Leigh Rivenbark, a freelance writer and editor in Vienna, Va., and Erin Binney, HR Magazine proofreader.

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

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