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on 1 June 2005
Management books are now two a penny and frequently not worth much more than that. The occasional useful nugget is often obscured by indigestible jargon and highlighted by the liberal use of large type and white space throughout.
Is this book any better? I was drawn to it initially because I have worked with both authors in the past and was intrigued to see whether they had anything new to say. I thought their emphasis on leadership and inspiration rather than the usual management theories was promising
They claim to deliver tips, checklists and advice from real-world leaders who are in their Inspired Leaders Network - some of whom are well-known names, from Charles Dunstone at Carphone Warehouse to Sinclair Beecham at Pret a Manger.
By and large the book does that, and in a very readable way. Maybe it could have done with more personal insights from high-achieving leaders. There are about 80 leaders featured in the book, but some are just mentioned in passing and they tend to focus on the star names.
I've given Seven Secrets five stars for its readability and its anecdotes that contain key learning points- like the one where Ford's Sir Nick Scheele explains a simple leader's communication trick he has learnt: that people remember what he is saying better when he groups the information into three chunks.
Or the anecdote about the CEO of Continental Airlines giving a passenger his fare back, with money from his own wallet, and then throwing him off a plane (not literally, and it was on the ground...) because the passenger had been so rude to a member of staff.
There is also a great story about how Greg Dyke, after he went out to thank the thousands of employees who had gathered in the street to protest at his sacking from the top job at the BBC ("I didn't quit. I was sacked."), came back in to his office not realising until it was pointed out to him that "he looked like a circus clown, with his head and face smothered in lipstick. These people had just wanted to say thank you for inspiring them".
The authors then track back, explaining Dyke's leadership actions over the previous year or so that had led to that level of respect and appreciation, so the reader can 'steal ideas' or 'catch the inspired leadership virus' as they put it. There are some useful critiques of common management and leader issues like how 'target cultures' distort an organisation's performance and how some leaders have moved away from this to alternatives like the Toyota-inspired 'systems thinking'.
There is the usual stuff about how to achieve breakthrough results that may sound familiar to those who are familiar with the work of Tracy Goss, Fernando Flores and the like, but at least it's told here by real leaders really doing it, including First Direct's founding CEO. There's also some useful stuff you wouldn't find in most books on leadership - like where global branding is headed and how to lead innovation.
Despite the somewhat cheesy title, it is definitely worth the effort. If nothing else you will come away with some practical tips and good anecdotes that you can use yourself.
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on 4 June 2005
I am a university student and found this book really interesting. It gave me leadership from a different perspective to my normal textbooks. But I don't think you have to be a university student to like the book. It's an interesting read because a lot of the people mentioned are from companies that affect our lives and are well known. I really like how it was easy to understand and not filled with complicated jargon. It was a great insight into business and an interesting read. I recommend it to anyone.
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on 7 June 2005
This is a great little book with a lot of big ideas. Ideas like the notion of permission marketing where the authors argue that one of the jobs of a leader is to time communication to customers according to when, and how, it benefits the customer. I agree wholeheartedly with their premise that research is no substitute for engagement. The book is rich in examples and contributions from the Inspired Leader network and a very good addition to the bookshelf.
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