High Quality Leadership: Practical Guidelines to Becoming a More Effective Manager

Michele Fromholtz (Charles Sturt University)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 1 December 1999




Fromholtz, M. (1999), "High Quality Leadership: Practical Guidelines to Becoming a More Effective Manager", Career Development International, Vol. 4 No. 7, pp. 400-402. https://doi.org/10.1108/cdi.1999.4.7.400.1



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 1999, MCB UP Limited

This book is intended as a practical manual for improved leadership quality. It is targeted at working managers at all stages of their careers who as adult learners need practical information with importance and practicality as key organising features. Rausch and Washbush choose not to distinguish managers from leaders openly assuming that competent managers are competent leaders, and, as such, share similar traits and skills.

The main content of the book is organised around the 3Cs guidelines – quite simply decision‐making questions about control, competence and climate. The chapter structure allows more general introduction to “The basic guidelines” in Chapter 1 followed by “The intermediate guidelines” in Chapter 2, the “Comprehensive guidelines” in Chapter 3 and a final chapter that discusses “The linking elements”. Thus,the same fundamental 3C questions are developed at deeper and more extensive levels through the book. The linking elements model provides the conceptual foundations of the approach.

This structure intends a gradual acquisition of the knowledge and a combination of practical and theoretical knowledge – “theory with teeth”. The assumption that management and leadership is decision making is contestable,yet the whole approach in the text depends on the notion of asking questions to guide decision making and enhance leadership. The basic questions are: Are things going right? (control), Does everyone know what to do, and can they do it? (competence) and How will the stakeholders react? (climate). Of these Rausch and Washbush say “when combined with frequent use, common sense, and some experiences, even the simplest set can show the way to some sound management and leadership decisions at work and in other organizations where you may be active – and to better decisions in your personal affairs”.

The chapter organisation is uniform and consistent but the escalation and repetition of the 3Cs through chapters, mixed with scenarios and additional insights, results in a presentation muddle. Connecting all this clutter mentally would be a daunting task for many readers, although perhaps this is the intent (Erwin Rausch comes from a management training background). Certainly, the approach is not meant to be a ready reckoner but it is meant to be one that should become second nature. Such learning does need practice and takes effort to acquire. Having done the hard work the enthusiastic and dedicated reader might certainly embrace the ideas of the book and apply them successfully in the organisation. No method will ever offer all the solutions but a method that encourages questions and thinking about, rather than answers to be forced on, situations is certainly a beneficial one.

Each chapter has illustrative scenarios and additional insights. The former are detailed “stories” or cases that are used as the basis for applying the 3Cs. The scenarios are excellent and they, with their thorough analysis using the 3Cs questions, comprise more than a third of the book.

The additional insights present theoretical concepts and well‐established management approaches to extend and support the 3Cs decision‐making approach. These comprise about 58 per cent of the book and are thus extensive. They are generally valuable and concise guides to some of the theory or practical concepts that managers might sensibly use. The sections on adult learning and communication, for instance, were particularly useful although others were rather scanty and uninformative (such as motivation and history of management). In providing these insights the authors willingly transcend the gaps between academic and popular management terrains to provide a broad and practical set of resources for managers.

Perhaps a little late the final chapter conveys the message that was missing throughout – why should this approach of asking questions to guide decision making be the central focus of attaining effective leader behaviour? The authors answer this by stating “Linking elements … show how decisions,on establishing direction toward greater accomplishment, and satisfying the requirements for getting there, can be made with more thorough consideration of all the relevant issues”. This approach, they say, helps the manager/leader to be the linking pin that Resis Likert suggested in the 1960s. however, instead of leaving the manager stranded with the responsibility but no guidance (as Likert’s work did) Rausch and Washbush offer the guidance in the form of the 3Cs to guide decision making. They explain that the basic questions are the important ones and the more detailed questions presented in the second and third chapters simply add depth. The main aim of the additional chapters is to help managers to learn the sorts of questions to as (although there will never be a finite number and they will be situation‐contingent). they hope that by association and practice of the method that managers will be simulated into asking the sorts of questions that will matter in any situation or scenario.

The book is to offer guidance about how to be a linking pin between the demands of organisational performance and the needs of individuals as they fulfil their roles as contributors towards organisational performance. It is about how to find ways to align these two sets of expectations and capacities and to reduce the gaps between them. Ultimately there will never be universal answers nor easy ways to negotiate this territory but developing the habit of asking questions that will help to look at issues and problems in full cannot be criticised.

Despite the presentation problems the book is very easy to read. It is the organisation of the information that could have been more visibly generous to its readers. An overall view of the framework of the book would have been better offered at the beginning (rather than at the end) so that the reader could make more sense of where he/she was being taken while working through the book. While there are numerous cross‐references and also many learning advantages to having to work with the material, such a learning experience would not have been undermined by advance indicators. Indeed it might have been considerably enhanced.

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