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The Disciplined Leader: Keeping the Focus on What Really Matters Hardcover – June 15, 2015
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“Peter Drucker famously said ‘Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.’ John Manning shows you exactly how to identify those right things and get them done as effectively as possible!”
—Marshall Goldsmith, author of the New York Times and global bestseller What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
“Make space on your bookshelf for The Disciplined Leader. John Manning shows any leader, whether CEO or small department manager, how to identify the Vital Few keys to success and hold people accountable, thereby delivering results. The principles and processes are straightforward and can be acted upon immediately.”
—Lloyd Lenson, Chief Operating Officer, CORT, A Berkshire Hathaway Company
“We must all evolve as leaders, and this book provides an invaluable framework for keeping leaders focused on the right things, providing accountability tools for management to stay on track and ensuring the right balance between great ideas, strategy, and execution.”
—Elise Buik, President and CEO, United Way of Greater Los Angeles
“The information that John Manning provides here is an indispensable resource for any leader. This approach helped guide us from our start as a small regional firm to becoming a national company and ultimately a global organization.”
—Guillermo de la Viña, CEO, Sigue Corp.
“The Disciplined Leader is a concise compilation of tips that have helped us focus on what is most important. This book is a great resource for anyone wanting to build a stronger team and become a disciplined leader.”
—Tammy Miller, CEO, Border States Electric
“Being a disciplined leader is not about working more and harder than everyone else. It’s about ensuring that every action you take exudes consistency, courage, and humility. The Disciplined Leader is an invaluable guide to help today’s C-level executives succeed—it’s required reading for my entire management team.”
—David Berman, President, RingCentral
“The Disciplined Leader emphasizes the key leadership fundamentals of passion, commitment, and people while stressing the importance of focus. The lessons are powerful and relevant for anyone in a leadership or management position.”
—Kelly Wright, Executive Vice President, Sales, Tableau Software
Drawing on the accumulated expertise of one of the world’s top leadership development organizations, this is a comprehensive and accessible guide to effective leadership practice, written in fifty-two short, to-the-point chapters.
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I have realized, that even the best of the best need lessons... Even the best golfers in the world need help ... They all need some kind of tune up on a regular basis.
Leaders are not any different --- Every leader needs some kind of tune up on a regular basis ... and this book does JUST that.
It truly has helped me to realign what I 'thought' I was doing right... It is a book of encouragement ... and uplifting....
I am also using this book from a personal perspective as well ... Being overweight ... THIS book is an excellent means of encouraging me to make a change in my own life where, for most of my life, my attitude and approach have been cattie-wompus....
I'm already looking forward to the next one....
All managers have to lead and all leaders have to manage. How much of each is required has more to with the task at hand and the people involved, than with your position in the organizational hierarchy.
The word “Discipline” of the title is not of the punitive sort, but rather the consistency of a set of beliefs and actions that are vital for your success. No undisciplined organization will succeed for long, no matter how well marketed, financed or inspired. There are no exceptions: what differs is how long it takes for the organization to unravel.
If you have chosen a career in leadership (or management, the title is essentially interchangeable,) “it’s part of your leadership responsibility to hold up the mirror and peer honestly and deliberately at yourself, reflecting on how you’ve led others,” Manning asserts.
The first part of the book focuses on the responsibility to lead yourself, because how you come across will inevitably guide your people.
It is for you to ensure they are getting the right message. It is not what you say, rather what your people hear that matters. One of the best managers I have met always writes down what she will say to colleagues, and corrects it until it is exactly what she means to say, and then throws the scrap away. Plan what you’re going to say to your team since, as Mark Twain wrote, “The difference between the right word and almost the right word, is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
Manning uses the term “game face” to describe non-verbal communication. You need to display, for example, that you are in control and that you are open to what others have to say, even though you may or may not agree. This requires keeping your “game face” on so that message is communicated.
“The longer I live and participate in the business world, the more I realize telling the truth is almost always the correct choice, painful or not,” says Manning. There is always a way to communicate a harsh reality tactfully and constructively. When it comes to employee or corporate performance sugar-coating or lying is invariably a product of fear. Fear makes it impossible for companies or people to achieve. If you have no idea of how you are truly performing, understanding the harsh reality is a kindness, without which corrective action is impossible. “Make truthfulness your mantra.”
No one is without fears, and dealing with them requires that one first acknowledges them, then clarifies and understands them. Only then can you create a plan to face your fears, one by one.
There are common myths about leadership that Manning dispels.
Myth #1: A leader must be “the answer person.” Believing this places an impossible burden on an individual, because none of us is as smart as all of us.
Myth #2: Talking makes you interesting. “Really?” writes Manning, “Speaking five languages, being an Olympian… makes you interesting. But talking too much? Nope. That only makes you a bore.”
Myth #3: Asking good questions comes naturally. Little can be further from the truth. Asking good questions is a learned skill that requires time and practice to master. It is certainly a skill all leaders should aspire to master, because it is a powerful way to uncover the important and meaningful.
Getting free of these myths will greatly assist you in achieving humility as a leader. (See Humble Inquiry by Edgar Shein, reviewed in this column – the best book on the subject.) Humility is knowing and being proud of what you know, at the same time as being aware of how much you do not and cannot know. It is through this humility that one “achieves a style of leadership that is confident yet retains an air of humility, asks more for input, listens better to others, and takes time out to engage co-workers or direct reports,” Manning explains. He advises identifying a role model who consistently practices humility, and studying his or her style and behaviour.
“Be in the Moment.” Manning has made it a rule in his client meetings to have everyone turn off electronics. You need only think of how you have felt when you are with people who lack the ability to remain present with you - it probably made you feel that you and the subject were unimportant. That is counter-productive in both business and friendship.
“Don’t Cross the Line!” This includes mismanaging your team and violating the ethical standards of your organization. Leaders who cross the line damage their professional image and career in every organization of quality. Bar none.
Probably the most common line-crossing is what Manning calls the “boss-buddy line.” It is imperative to manage the social distance with colleagues so as not to compromise position, authority or responsibility.
Honouring your commitments is that high-impact activity that can make or break your credibility as a leader. When leaders fail to follow through on commitments, big or small, people notice, remember, and care, because they have been let down by those who should know better. Leaders are expected to demand follow-through on what has been agreed to. Every commitment you make is seen as a moment of truth, so don’t overcommit.
The book is a collection of pointers on how to become The Disciplined Leader. Each chapter can be read as self-standing, and comes with action steps. This is a comprehensive and useful tool for any manager.
Readability Light -+--- Serious
Insights High --+-- Low
Practical High +----- Low
*Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy and is the author of Strategy that Works.
Charles Vandalia, President and CEO, Probity Commercial Insurance Services, Inc.