Martin's seven "ways" are actually admonitions. As he would be the first to point out, they are much easier said than done. In fact, he wrote a book to explain how to "make tough decisions easier, deliver the numbers, and grow business in good times and bad." Here are the admonitions:
1. Communicate clearly.
2. Force the hard decisions.
3. Focus on results.
4. Remain flexible.
5. Prove your value to the company.
6. Force collaboration.
7. Practice tough management without being tough.
There are no head snappers among the seven. The substantial value of this book is derived, rather, from responses by more than 2,000 senior executives and managers in 50 countries who participated in an NFI Research survey. They completed a brief survey segment every two weeks over a period of 24 months. That is a key point because, over time both circumstances and respondents' reactions to them change. The final survey results thus have much greater credibility. Martin operates a global idea exchange and research engine with a network base of more than 2,000 senior executives and managers from more than 1,000 companies in more than 50 countries, including half of the Fortune 500. Those who read his book are invited to visit his Web site: [...] or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martin devotes a separate chapter to each of the seven admonitions. I especially appreciate the provision of a survey summary and a "Voices from the Front Lines" section in each chapter. For example, in Chapter 3 ("Focus on Results"), survey respondents were asked:
"In general, how well does your supervisor delegate to you, in relation to enabling you to execute against your organization's strategy and direction?"
Very well 54%
Somewhat well 30%
Not very well 9%
Not at all well 3%
"In general, how well do you delegate to your subordinates, in relation to enabling them to execute against your part of your organization's strategy and direction?"
Very well 50%
Somewhat well 47%
Not very well 3%
Not at all well 0%
Then four "voices" from the "front lines" are provided. There is comparable material within each of the other six chapters. Credit Martin for succeeding brilliantly with the organization and presentation of so much survey information within an eloquent and brisk narrative. Well done!
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out David Maister's Practice What You Preach, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee's Resonant Leadership, Michael Ray's The Highest Goal, and James O'Toole's Creating the Good Life.
on 25 August 2005
Chuck Martin has written a straightforward book predominantly based upon data gathered by his company, NFI Research, in two years of research involving 2,000 managers and executives worldwide. The business world portrait he paints isn't rosy: companies continually ask managers to do more with less. Most managers and executives work more than 50 hours a week, and the marketplace constantly heats up the pressure to perform better. Under such difficult circumstances, Martin advises managers to get tough by exercising a solid set of seven specific skills. Ironically the list ends with, "Don't be a tough guy," meaning that stressed-out managers should strive for work-life balance. The book would be even stronger if it cited prior work on the pros and cons of being tough in the workplace. Douglas McGregor's Theory X and Y, and William Ouchi's subsequent Theory Z are two classics that come to mind. We find that this book provides useful - albeit bleak - insights into contemporary corporate management, and recommend its sound advice to managers.