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The Unwritten Rules: The Six Skills You Need to Get Promoted to the Executive Level Hardcover – October 19, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470585781
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470585788
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

As predictable career paths have become extinct in most organizations, managers aspiring to the C-suite are often left to their own devices to determine how to advance their careers. Even in companies that devote considerable time to talent development, the messages to aspiring executives are often vague and contradictory. In some cases, your boss may find it hard to articulate what is holding you—an otherwise top-performing manager—back from advancement. In other cases, the issues affecting your ability to move up the ladder have been identified by your superiors, who hesitate to provide feedback for fear of de-motivating a valued manager the company doesn't want to lose.

What you need is real guidance on what the make-or-break issues are when it comes to your career success.

In The Unwritten Rules, top executive coach John Beeson de-codes the leadership criteria—the unwritten rules—that companies use to make decisions about who gets promoted and whose careers become stalled. He identifies and describes the six selection factors you must develop to lead effectively at the executive level:

  • Demonstrating strategic skills

  • Building a strong management team

  • Managing implementation

  • Exhibiting a capacity for innovation and change

  • Working across organizational boundaries

  • Projecting executive presence

This practical and insightful book covers the capabilities necessary to be considered a candidate, the characteristics that prevent someone from becoming a serious candidate, and those capabilities that—after all discussions are over—are most critical in decisions about who advances to the executive level. Drawing on years of practical experience and interviews with senior executives, Beeson shows how to demonstrate convincingly to C-suite decision makers that you have what it takes to make it to the top.

Filled with the stories of managers who successfully climbed up the executive ladder and others who struggled and failed to achieve their career goals, The Unwritten Rules provides the insight you need to sharpen the leadership capabilities that will truly maximize your chances of getting to the next level.

From the Back Cover

Praise for The Unwritten Rules

"The Unwritten Rules brings clarity to the critical skills necessary to move ahead and be successful as a senior business leader. John Beeson's insights, based on long experience providing counsel to executives at major corporations, will be valuable to anyone who aspires to leadership."
—Ron Williams, CEO, Aetna

"Beeson has done a masterful job writing the unwritten rules of executive career advancement. The reader feels like Beeson is sitting knee to knee—encouraging, counseling, and coaching. The key selection factors are insightful, the tools useful, and the stories real."
—Dave Ulrich, professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan,and author of the best-selling The Why of Work

"The Unwritten Rules is a highly practical guidebook for career advancement to executive positions. Beeson offers concrete and well-targeted advice, and steers clear of generalities. An eye-opener."
—Susan Peters, vice president of executive development and chief learning officer, General Electric

"The Unwritten Rules shows us what's holding executive development back at most companies and provides one of the freshest blueprints yet for executives aspiring to propel their careers into the C-suite."
—Leo Kiely, CEO, MillerCoors

"Beeson provides an insider's view of the closely held C-suite executive selection process. A must-read for MBAs starting a career, as well as senior managerslooking to take the next step."
—Tom Bowler, senior vice president of human resources and organization, United Technologies Corporation

"The reasons managers advance to the C-suite are far from obvious. In TheUnwritten Rules, Beeson pulls back the curtain and highlights the key factorsbehind executive-level promotional and placement decisions. This book will help any aspiring executive take control of his or her career advancement."
—Dayton Ogden, former chairman and head of global CEO practice,Spencer Stuart


More About the Author

John Beeson is Principal of Beeson Consulting, a management consulting firm specializing in succession planning; executive assessment, coaching, and development; and organization design. Over the years John and his team have been privileged to work with some of the largest and best-regarded companies in the world.

Earlier in his career, he served as partner and officer of Harbridge House, Inc., a Boston-based management consulting firm. In addition to his consulting experience, John worked at Hallmark Cards, Inc., serving as Corporate Director of Organization and Human Resource Development. Prior to joining Hallmark, John was responsible for management and organization development at Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, Inc. At both Frito-Lay and Hallmark his responsibilities included management development, succession planning, and organization design on a company-wide basis.

John is a graduate of Amherst College and holds an MBA from the Wharton Graduate Division of the University of Pennsylvania. His articles on succession planning and talent development have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Business Horizons, People & Strategy, and The Conference Board Review. John enjoys a longstanding relationship with The Conference Board and originated two Conference Board conferences: 1.) the Succession Planning and Top Talent Development seminar series and 2.) the Organization Design and Renewal Conference. He is co-author of a major Conference Board research study, "Developing Business Leaders for 2010" and author of The Unwritten Rules: The Six Skills You Need to Get Promoted to the Executive Level. He also writes a regular blog contributor to the Harvard Business Review.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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His suggestions are concrete and tangible, and presented in an easy-to-understand way.
Lynn H.
I would recommend this book to anyone seeking to advance their career as well as to anyone who is seeking to stay at the top.
John Small
The reader will gain self-awareness and practical advice for undertaking changes that can have significant impact.
Amy Kates

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lynn H. on October 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Beeson's book would benefit anyone who is seeking to advance his or her career, regardless of position or industry. He offers tremendous insight and perspective, and clearly understands the executive-level environment. The case studies are fabulous, and will ring true for anyone who has received or given a performance review. His suggestions are concrete and tangible, and presented in an easy-to-understand way. I will remember "The Unwritten Rules" and keep my copy handy -- it is the kind of resource one could use again and again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By janet rifkin on October 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a former Dean of a college at a large public university, I wish I had been able to benefit from the insights and strategic advice that permeates this book.

Universities are complex organizations that require leaders to exercise management skills for which they are often unprepared. At the same time, the culture of a university is one that aspires to "educate" future leaders but in actuality offer few professional opportunities for staff to learn essential skills, behaviors and attitudes that are critical to achieving this goal.

This book offers practical strategies, interesting and relevant case studies and an overall framework that can help transform any workplace into one in which people will be encouraged to perform at their best level, to feel respected by colleagues and supervisors and to develop into positive leaders themselves.

One of the best books of this kind I have read, one that I have recommended to colleagues who hold a range of administrative positions in higher education.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Merrill Rose on October 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Not only has John Beeson skillfully solved the mystery of who gets promoted and why, but he has also armed the rest of us with the tools we need to interpret the clues around us and uncover the path to the top of our own organizations. The vivid examples he uses of talented strivers who have stumbled on the way made me cringe in recognition of similar missteps I've made or witnessed. Yet the stories of people who got it right -- and just how they did it -- provided powerful evidence that Beeson's advice is well worth heeding.

It's clear that Beeson has spent a lot of time behind closed office doors and has managed to get executives and their bosses to talk about things that would otherwise not be brought to light. He effectively draws upon this inside intelligence and his expertise in the field of leadership development and succession planning to provide his readers an indispensable guide to advancement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tom murray on April 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have included Beeson's book ("The Unwritten Rules" )as recommended reading for faculty and students here at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. While seemingly outside a natural science graduate curricula, Beeson's actual case studies provide natural scientists the kind of critical "business intelligence" they can't find in graduate school. Most importantly Beeson's real world stories of success and frustration arising from strenghts or flaws in inter-personal skills are immensely valuable real world lessons for any young professional seeking to advance their career in any organization; whether business, scientific or public service."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Litow Flayhart on November 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As an experienced Executive Coach, I anticipate that John Beeson's new book will become an essential resource in my work with high potential people and aspiring leaders. Mr. Beeson provides insightful analysis of the critical skills that need to be demonstrated to make it to the top of any successful organization. As I work with individuals, I envision referring them to his clearly articulated case studies as a means of enhancing their self awareness. The practical and straightforward advice that Mr. Beeson provides will stimulate clients to develop a deeper understanding of their own skills. His incisive descriptions of what decision makers are looking for will provide a springboard for clients to strategically evaluate their styles and identify behavioral changes that will enable them to achieve their desired success. "The Unwritten Rules" will be a valuable addition to the libraries of Executive Coaches dedicated to helping clients achieve their greatest potential.
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