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on 14 July 2012
I bought this book out of curiosity as I wanted to know how Tesco went from being a low end supermarket to a highly successful business, and the envy of its competitors. It was worth the investment. This book is extremely well written and very readable (not all business books are). Although primarily the story of Tesco's rise in fortunes, it also provides common sense advice for all businesses. For some businesses it will be more difficult to gather customer data, but we can all value our customers and staff. One of the key messages I took from this book was 'what is the noble objective of my business (Terry asked `what is Tesco for?' - page 42). This made me think about my own business and has helped me to focus on the emotional benefit to my clients rather than just the rational one. This book also demonstrates the value to customers, staff and the bottom line of good leadership. A good lesson for all leaders!
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on 17 June 2012
Leahy's book should be read by all managers, whatever their industry. The principles he espouses in his "10 words", all illustrated with practical examples from his Tesco experience, are universally applicable. If you place them in context of your own organisation, you'll readily recognise how well or otherwise you're following them, and the resultant effects.

It's a very easy read too - plain English to demonstrate plain answers.

Recommendation for big organisations, public and private sector ... cut a day off your management consultancy spend and leave 100 copies of this book around your office instead.
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The most substantial benefit from this book is derived from what Terry Leahy shares so generously from his personal as well as professional experiences as the former CEO of one of the world's largest, most successful corporations. Almost immediately, he establishes and then sustains a direct, personal, at times almost confidential rapport with his reader. As he would be the first to point out, no matter what any ten words are selected (including his), they are essentially meaningless in the absence of appropriate behavior.

As for Leahy's ten words (i.e. truth, loyalty, courage, values, act, balance, simple, lean, compete, and trust), others of comparable meaning and significance (e.g. authenticity and integrity) could probably have served just as well but that's not the point. Leahy's key insight is that the values one affirms must be in total alignment with how one behaves, especially in relationships with those for whom one is directly responsible. Long ago, Leahy realized that he could not manage others effectively unless and until he understood how to manage himself.

He devotes a separate chapter to each of his ten core values, introducing each with a brief but remarkably precise explanation of the essence of the given value. For example, for Chapter 3: "Good strategies need to be bold and daring. People need to be stretched as they can do more than they think. Goals have to cause excitement, and perhaps just a little fear. Above all, they need to inspire, and present an organization with a choice: have these great ambitions, or remain as you are." And then for Chapter 7, "Change in any fast-moving, fast-growing company is not easy. My solution is quite simple: to make things simple. Simplicity is the knife that cuts through the tangled spaghetti of life's problems."

Here are a few of the several dozen passages that caught my eye:

o Acting on the truth (Pages 22-40)
o Acting on your values (124-129)
o "The Steering Wheel" (138-139 and 184-186)

o How not to take action (171-176)
Note: Leahy wholly agrees with Peter Drucker: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all."

o Keeping both feet on the ground (190-193)
o Simplicity as practice (209-216)
o The power and impact of "lean thinking" (233-245)
o Learning from the competition (255-265)
o Building trust (275-284)

Before concluding his book, Leahy shares his thoughts about the deeply-troubled global business community, one in which many (too many) business leaders have lost their moral compass and led their organizations astray. His focus is on culture: Who a human community really is and what it really values. "More than ever before, organizations need people who are not merely motivated to work hard, but have the freedom and the encouragement to innovate, to think for themselves, and take risks. We need a culture that embraces change, and simple systems that can easily respond to that change. Above all," and these points are his most important, "companies and other organizations that rely on customer or citizen loyalty must not simply have common values, but live by those values. They need to confront the truth head-on, as loyalty and trust cannot be built on the shifting sand of lies and half-truths."

Thank you, Terry Leahy, for the keenness of your mind and the pleasure of your company. Above all, thank you for your passion to prove worthy of the respect and trust of those with whom it is your privilege to be associated.
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on 16 August 2012
In common with the reviewers here, I rate Sir Terry Leahy's book "Management in 10 Words" very highly for all the reasons people have already mentioned. In fact, I place it right at the top, alongside Steve Radcliffe's No 1 leadership book on Amazon, "Leadership Plain and Simple".

There are two obvious links here. Both authors are 'ordinary lads' from the North West, Liverpool and Wigan respectively. And both are direct and honest leaders. Their extraordinary contribution to management and leadership is as remarkable as it is inspiring. In Sir Terry's own words, he is a shy and private man, and I am so glad that he has taken the decision to share his noble wisdom and experience with the world through his book.

Whilst the book has been written to share the lessons of success - the simple truths about life, not just business - it tells the real story about Tesco and goes all the way in confronting the negative publicity the company has received over the years for its success. It also demonstrates how the enlightened and disciplined application of capitalism offers abundant solutions for the rising social and environmental challenges we face. I hope that Sir Terry has the opportunity to make as significant a contribution in this direction, and to rescuing our failing economy and institutions, as he has had in his distinguished business career.
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on 8 September 2012
If your work is based on leadership, continuous improvement and breaking the management thinking paradigm in your business, then this book is fantastic. Sir Terry gives you a nuts and bolts insight into his "thinking way", his leadership approach and deployment.
This book is confirmation for me that putting the customer at the dead centre of your business world is the only way to truly succeed. I love the humble way in which the book is written, there is no brashness, no bragging, just simple fact and a wonderful journey.
I could not put this book down. This book will live in my Kindle forever.
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on 1 July 2012
I normally avoid like the plague management books with titles like this. I get tired with autobiographies which usually dwell on the achievements of the individual who writes a book about themselves. But I saw Terry Leahy at the Hay Festival and the thoughtfulness of his character persuaded me to make an exception.

Terry Leahy does, of course, draw in the main on his own experience. It is true that he describes how he took Tesco's who, in the early 1990's was a struggling supermarket way behind the leading supermarket, Sainsbury's, and nowhere near the icon of retail, Marks and Spencers, to a leading international retailer 6 times bigger than any British competitor. He does not do false modesty but he does credit others for the incredible progress in that time.

But the redeeming features of the book are his views on the critical issues and his discussion of them.

Of the 10 words the first and the most powerful of all of them is truth. "Organisations the world over are terrible at confronting truth. It is so much easier to define your version of reality and judge success and failure by that." Leahy maintains that the customers are the most reliable guide that any business has. "Putting the customer at the core of everything we did may sound exceptionally obvious - yet how many organisations truly listen to their customers?"
He then goes on to discuss effective ways to really give reign to customers' views and then to act on them.

Loyalty is the second word. Rewarding loyalty, rather than taking it for granted or focussing on new or disloyal customers, is his pitch. Leahy credits the Tesco clubcard - the world's first shopper loyalty card - for much of Tesco's ability to get to know who their customers are and to reward them. And reckons it was a key factor in the success of Tesco.

Each of the words is treated, in this practical, down to earth way with richly drawn examples.

For me the book was inspiring. Maybe because I wrestle with some of the same issues in my day job. But I think fascinating to anyone who shops.
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on 24 May 2013
This books is better then it seems to be. It's not an exercise of self-glorification, although the author failed to admit that the American investment was a failure.
In spite of having an MBA and read tons of business books, I have found more then a few things to learn:
1) Truth: we are here to serve the people, not to sell products. To create value, not to deliver profit. If you create an emotional bond, they will return to you.
2) Loyalty. Winning and retaining loyalty is the best objective any business can have. Before taking a decision, ask: "Will it make people more loyal, or less?".
3) Courage. Good strategies need to be bold and daring. Goals have to cause excitement and a little fear. Only if you think big, and plan bigger, you have a plan to see real change.
4) Values. Strong values underpin successful businesses. Employees and customers are motivated by emotions, as well as reason. Creating values is easy, the hard part is living them.
5) Act. Plans mean nothing, if they are not enacted effectively.
The critical aim is to win customers, not create a perfect process. Better start with a simple process, then perfect it. The successful organizations learn from their mistakes.
6) Balance. A balanced organization is one in which everyone moves forward together. Being first get you noticed, but the long term matters most. It takes 10 years to start in a new country, and another 10 to become leader.
7) Simple. Simplicity is the knife that cuts through the spaghetti of life's problems.
8) Lean. By thinking lean, we can go green, and do more, for less.
9) Compete. The strongest competitors are the best management consultants there are. Look at their operations, to find out what they think, and do.
10) Trust. When people trust you, they feel that their interests are safe in your hands.
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on 2 August 2012
I was in senior management for 20 odd years and read a bunch of books whilst learning my craft "by ear".. Once I had "succeeded" I went off and got an MBA to validate myself somehow and to be honest, this book encapsulates everything you need to know about customer service and modern leadership. Its an easy read and Leahy is amazingly humble for such a talented and inspirational leader. Read this before you sign up for any kind of management / leadership training and you will save yourself a load of cash and a few years work!
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on 20 September 2012
This book should be required reading for every manager.

It is clear and to the point, which probably accounts for why I found it such an engaging read. My work is coaching and mentoring business owners and managers and this will definitely now be at the top of their readings list. Whilst some other reviewers have an aversion to books of list, usually quite rightly, this book is the exception. Each of the ten words is explained and supported by examples from Leahy's time at Tesco.

Quite frankly the growth of Tesco under his leadership says all you need to know about the capabilites of Leahy as a leader and manager. His honesty and humility are a model for all leaders and managers - especially the 'banksters'!

As another reviewer has said, let's hope he is given the opportunity to contribute to improving elsewhere in our society. How about the NHS Sir Terry?
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on 20 April 2014
Some very good thoughts on business and leadership and good insights to creative change and he the customer focus is imperative. The reader has to search for these amongst long history sections and a prevalence of old war based quotes. The gems as there but be prepared to have to look for them
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