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I graded this book five stars for implementation of the book's concept (how to improve your leadership using Tony Soprano as an example) and one star for the book's concept of using the fictional Tony Soprano as the only example of good leadership. The result is a three star rating.
Before reading this book, I had only seen about 12 minutes of a single Sopranos show. As a result, I did not know much about what would be in the book. Ms. Himsel has done a fine job of recapitulating many of the key themes and relationships in the series, so I felt like I understood the context that she was talking about even though I had not seen the show.
To me, the book is at its best when it moves away from Tony Soprano and speaks about the problems that many of us have such as not controlling our emotions, not communicating clearly or enough, not being considerate enough of other peoples' situations, and wanting to attract and build talent. I enjoyed the sections where there were questions where the reader could examine her- or himself to see what barriers need to be overcome. Some of the ones in the beginning were a little too obvious, but the later ones were more helpful.
I think if I had already seen all of the shows, the repetition of the material about the show would have seemed excessive. But as someone who hadn't seen the shows, I was grateful for all of the repetition I received.
Regardless of her fine craftsmanship, I was disappointed to read about a fictional person whose life is filled with doing unspeakable deeds cited as a management example. Ms. Himsel recognizes that limitation and makes it clear that she is not endorsing anything about Tony Soprano's morality. Well, the context leaves one feeling a little scummy in my reading experience. I don't really want to learn from an example like Tony Soprano.
Everything he does has the potential threat of violence or death behind it, which makes any observations about what he is doing a little suspect in terms of how much anyone else can apply it. Also, as I understand it, the Soprano operation is a relatively small business (although very profitable) and I'm not sure how well its lessons scale up into a larger enterprise.
I was particularly disappointed when I learned that Ms. Himsel works for Ms. Andrea Jung, one of the most effective CEOs in the world. Why couldn't Ms. Himsel have written about leadership, the Andrea Jung way? Now, that's a book I would love to read and share.
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