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Do Nothing!: How to Stop Overmanaging and Become a Great Leader Hardcover – June 14, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover (June 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591845300
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591845300
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #280,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Murnighan uses rigorous research to provide detailed advice that will help leaders do their jobs better, develop more adept and committed followers, and suffer from less stress and overwork. Even though most business books present new wine in old bottles, Do Nothing! is the rare book that provides a refreshing perspective and tangible advice on leadership that isn’t available anyplace else.”
—ROBERT I. SUTTON, author of The No Asshole Rule
 
“With Do Nothing!, Keith Murnighan has clearly done something—something sig­nificant. He’s reconceptualized the idea of effective leadership through a compelling analysis that allows existing and prospective leaders to see how to work both less and better at their craft.”
—ROBERT B. CIALDINI, author of Influence
 
“Too often, new leaders find it difficult to delegate previous responsibilities or create a sea of activity during times of crisis. Instead, fighting these tendencies will lead to more effective leadership. Murnighan does a fantastic job demonstrating how this contrarian approach can actually be applied successfully in business. A must read.”
—MATTHEW B. McCALL, partner, New World Ventures
 
“Murnighan has, in what is both a unique and an innovative turnaround, identified that, contrary to popular opinion, leadership turns out to be as much about what you don’t do as what you do. The best leaders today and in the future will look more like basketball coaches than great players, rarely engaging in the day-to-day delivery but more often focused on strategy and doing little other than letting great players run with the ball.”
—GLEN TULLMAN, CEO, Allscripts
 
“Do Nothing! provides a unique and somewhat counterintuitive approach to running a business. By moving away from micromanaging, Keith tells us that we can help employ­ees grow and give ourselves more time to focus on the bigger picture. This valuable guide will help everyone who reads it to manage better and accomplish more.”
—MICHAEL REINSDORF, president, Chicago Bulls

About the Author

J. KEITH MURNIGHAN is an award-winning professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and an active consul­tant and trainer for a host of companies around the world. His research has been cited in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Econo­mist, and Forbes. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most of the leadership lessons along the book were not new to me, but the author eaxamined them from a different viewpoint.
Alexandre Winkler
Keith Murnighan's new book 'Do Nothing'(tm) is a combination of shock and awe, using counter-intuitive thinking to accelerate your learning.
Stephen Axel
There are some tasks best completed by a leader; most other tasks can - and should - be completed by others (i.e. direct reports).
Robert Morris

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The title of this book attracts attention but is misleading. It implies that J. Keith Murnighan emphatically recommends that leaders literally do nothing. On the contrary, he has written a book--and a quite valuable book - in which he explains how to lead more effectively by doing less so that others can more...and do it better as they "learn by doing" rather than by admonition or passive observation. As is also true of countless other business books, the subtitle is far more informative than is the title. "In other words," Murnighan suggests, "stop working and start leading."

As he notes, here's a familiar challenge: "Things [begin italics] are [end italics] simpler when other people are in charge and you don't have to make big decisions. Taking over as a leader means that you must depart from the comfort of the status quo, and the anxiety, fear, and uncertainty that accompany your excitement really are noxious. To avoid these feelings, people naturally fall back on what's familiar and certain - that is, what they know how to do. Unfortunately, this can be truly counterproductive." Why? There are some tasks best completed by a leader; most other tasks can - and should - be completed by others (i.e. direct reports). No one person can do [begin italics] everything [end italics]. Leaders should commit most of their time and energy to being facilitators and orchestators.

I agree with Murnighan's analogy: "When things are really clicking, work will be like the performance of a great Beethoven symphony, with the notes in the right place, the crescendos coming on time, and at the end, a feeling of exhilaration at your collective accomplishments. Leaders and their teams [begin italics] never [end italics] experience this kind of thrill when leaders do too much." Quite true.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Kare Anderson VINE VOICE on June 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
1. Be clear about your top goal for your group, whether it is a team or a whole organization.
2. Step into the shoes of those you lead, assume the best and provide them with the resources they need to succeed
3. THEN get out of their way, except when your orchestration is needed.

That seems simply yet, as I, and probably you, have experienced, first hand, it is remarkably rare. That's why Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management professor, J Keith Murnigham in his book, Do Nothing! lays out a rationale and road map to move away from micro-managing to "leading, facilitating and orchestrating." Not surprisingly Keith is a fan of Carol Dweck's advocacy of a growth Mindset - a book I heartily recommend Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

I agree with much of the common sense, general advice in his book, such as "doing too much is far worse than doing too little," yet in business as in art, it is often a matter of exactly where you draw the line.

He writes, "When things are really clicking, work will be like the performance of a great Beethoven symphony, with the notes in the right place, the crescendos coming on time, and at the end, a feeling of exhilaration at your collective accomplishments." I also know that feeling, first hand, when at the Wall Street Journal, with a bureau chief who seemed to know how to bring out the unique talents of each of us, and when to have a tight rein and when to let it loose. The art in leading or managing, it seems to me is in know when to do both, especially in times of internal conflict where I would have liked to have read more advice from Murnigham.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bob Burg on July 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
While I don't like the title for what it seems to imply, early on in the book he explains very nicely what he actually means.

On the other hand, the subtitle is perfect: "How to Stop Overmanaging and Become a Great Leader." Yes, perfect description, indeed!

The book was written by noted consultant and award-winning professor, J. Keith Murnighan (pronounced, Mernyin) of the prestigious Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His basic premise is that most leaders do too much actual work themselves. And, when they do, they cannot be as effective, thoughtful, or as strategic as they might otherwise be. More than that, their team members are underutilized and under-challenged.

This makes a lot of sense as many leaders, by their very nature, combine confidence in themselves with a lack of confidence - or trust - that others can do as good a job as they can.

Professor Murnighan suggests that instead, leaders should focus their attention on the areas that will leverage organizational success. He says they should think, make key decisions, help when needed and add some organizational control.

The result: team members reveal skills and performance that far exceed what others might think they are capable of. This increases morale, productivity, and... profitability! Throughout the book, the author raises a number of fascinating insights regarding human motivation and the differences in thought processes. I especially enjoyed learning about the differences in "fixed mindset" and "growth mindset." Really, the more I think about it, the author is a master in terms of what moves people.

This is a book filled with wisdom that can benefit all who embrace his teachings.
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