Winter 2013 Resources for Managers

Jan 22, 2013

The fifth edition of The Leadership Challenge (Jossey-Bass, 2012) marks the 25th anniversary of this guidebook on how to get others to follow your lead and move with you toward a common goal.

Authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner use fresh research and a host of case studies from real organizations to present five essential practices that leaders can use to make things happen. The book also offers “Take Action” sections showing readers how to put these leadership practices into immediate use in their own workplaces.

Model the way. Leaders have to speak for others, but the first step they take should be to look inward and clarify their own values. Readers learn the nature of values; how to express themselves in their own, authentic voices; how to align personal values with organizational ones; and how to affirm shared values in a group, building consensus around principles and standards.

Inspire a shared vision. The authors provide ideas for using your own past experiences, listening to others both inside and outside the organization, and other steps for actively looking forward. The book shows how to enlist others in that vision of the future with communications, expressing your own emotions and acknowledging others’ emotions and long-term interests.

Challenge the process. Readers learn how to take initiative and how to encourage others to do so; how to look outside their own personal experiences and get ideas from customers and others about what works.

Enable others to act. Kouzes and Posner show how to create a climate of trust, show concern for others and share information to show that you, the leader, have know-how that can build your team’s trust in you. Leaders also need to “structure projects to promote joint effort” and take other steps that increase collaboration. Ways to empower employees include sharing information with them, giving them latitude to make decisions in their jobs, holding them accountable for their performance and increasing their competence.

Encourage the heart. Kouzes and Posner focus here on setting clear goals and recognizing employees’ contributions when they meet those goals.

This book can be purchased online at a member discount from the SHRM Store.


A revised and updated version of the 1998 book of a similar name, Contented Cows Still Give Better Milk (John Wiley & Sons, 2012) delves into why organizations still need to engage their workers—even after economic woes seemed to take the focus off engagement and put it on corporate survival. This time around, authors Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden provide more examples of “Contented Cows,” companies whose workers’ positive engagement keeps the business strong.

The case for engagement is clear: Contented Cow companies made money and performed well even during years when the overall economy was in trouble. Catlette and Hadden note that employee engagement isn’t about altruism, it’s about capitalism.

The book not only profiles successful firms but also guides managers wanting to improve engagement at their own organizations. The writers find that truly engaged employees have three chief characteristics: They are committed, they are cared about, and they are enabled. Readers learn how those three characteristics work and how to replicate them in their own organizations.

This book can be purchased online at a member discount from the SHRM Store.


Social Gravity (Talent Anarchy, 2012) aims to help any reader at any level increase his or her social capital—defined here as “The resources available through personal and business relationships.” How those relationships form, how to look at them analytically, and how to create new and valuable connections are all part of this guide.

Authors Joe Gerstandt and Jason Lauritsen demonstrate how to evaluate a person’s reach or connections to others; a person’s power or ability to influence others; and staff diversity or differences from yourself. Reach, power and diversity mean a contact has plenty to offer you, including new perspectives and the opportunity to connect with others in the contact’s own circle.

Gerstandt and Lauritsen condense their advice into six rules, larding each with checklists, questionnaires and tools to help readers personalize the advice:

Invest in connecting with others. Put the time and the effort into building relationships. This includes figuring out your goals and the priority of each goal, so you know where to put your networking efforts.

Be open to connections. Human nature tends toward making faulty assumptions about people, relying on stereotypes, and embracing biases. The book guides readers on recognizing those roadblocks. Then it covers how to put yourself out there—being more available by phone, taking more opportunities to meet others in person, using social media and e-mail more effectively, and even moving workspace to be closer to those who matter most to your network.

Be authentic. If you follow your real interests and express your real goals, you’re more likely to connect with those who share them and can help you.

Get involved in meaningful activity. Directly related to being authentic, this rule urges readers to take action that matters to them personally and, through it, meeting like-minded people.

Use karma to turbocharge your network. Do things for others and they’ll do things for you. It’s “social currency” between contacts, the authors note, and it means being generous with your help because eventually someone will help you, too.

Stay in touch. Learn techniques for maintaining connections with appropriate, consistent and relevant communications with those in your network. The book looks at how social media tools have made connections far easier but also harder to manage meaningfully as they balloon into the hundreds and beyond.

While social media aren’t the book’s focus, they do get attention as tools people should use effectively. Just joining sites isn’t enough, the authors caution. You need to blog, update, post and otherwise keep content fresh. The idea of personal branding, both in person and online, is important, too, because it is “packaging who you are for the online community … to help the right people find you online.”

This book can be purchased online at a member discount from the SHRM Store.


There is a term that “strikes fear into managers’ hearts,” authors Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni write in Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go (Berrett-Koehler, 2012), and that term is “career development.” Managers often dislike the idea of career development programs or developmental assignments that take away their employees. But to Kaye and Giulioni, career development simply means helping others grow—and managers can achieve that through conversations.

Kaye and Giulioni dissect the myths that immobilize managers, such as the myth that there’s no time for career conversations amid everyday tasks or the belief that employees “need to own their careers” and are entirely responsible for their own development, with no need for managerial help.

But career development does not have to consist of a formal program, or even a single, lengthy planning session between manager and employee. Kaye and Giulioni emphasize the power of short conversations and an ongoing dialogue, all year long.

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go offers tools to help managers start and maintain those ongoing conversations.

This book can be purchased online at a member discount from the SHRM Store.


Drawing on methods used by actors, The Pin Drop Principle (Jossey-Bass, 2012) teaches readers how to become more confident and effective communicators, no matter what audience they are addressing or what topic they are covering.

The techniques here are for anyone who needs to communicate—managers or employees who need to make presentations to groups, give one-on-one feedback, persuade others or hold difficult conversations at work. Readers first learn how to define their objective (what they want) and their intention (how they’re going to get what they want).

Readers then can work through the whole book from start to finish for a complete course, or dip into it for immediate help with their most pressing communication issues—telling effective stories, structuring a framework that supports the message, preparing and managing nerves, communicating nonverbally to express confidence, speaking off the cuff, answering questions and being persuasive.

This book can be purchased online at a member discount from the SHRM Store.


Infoteria has released a software application called Handbook designed to help users make business presentations from tablet devices. Infoteria’s Handbook Studio is an online application that allows users to upload documents, videos and audio files. The mobile app then stores the documents in a secure platform, allowing users to easily share presentation materials.

(415) 759-5292 ||


Hively has announced a new software tool called Kudos, which is designed to help managers better identify and reward top-performing employees. Kudos is an immediate employee feedback and reward system that enhances Hively’s software platform for soliciting and measuring customer feedback by providing users the ability to offer employees a quick pat on the back and to move from a virtual to a tangible reward system.|


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