Six of the Best: Lessons in Life and Leadership

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 18 July 2008




(2008), "Six of the Best: Lessons in Life and Leadership", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 16 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Six of the Best: Lessons in Life and Leadership

Article Type: From: Human Resource Management International Digest, Volume 16, Issue 5

Ed Peppitt,Hodder Education, 2007

Keywords: Leadership, Change management, Business excellence

This handy book – full of practical examples, illustrations and nuggets of leadership wisdom – is unusual for several reasons.

First, it is a project of the Chartered Management Institute. Secondly, it is a result of face-to-face interviews with six of the UK’s most successful and effective leaders. It takes a look at leadership and management as a whole. It provides interesting and valuable perspectives relative to how truly effective leaders and managers operate. The book contains no theory but plenty of examples, stories and anecdotes. That is its real value, as the six titans of business, education, industry and the arts put flesh on the skeleton of their practical experience.

Sir Michael Bighard underlines the importance of good communication to effective organizational change. Communicating change is not only about telling, but also about listening.

He suggests that we “need to try to give people the opportunity to be a part of change – but if they can’t, we need to help them to find something else”.

Meeting customer needs is vital to an organization’s survival. Lord Karan Billimoria refers to it as the need to “zig” when those around you “zag”. He refers to what is seemingly a paradox – the need to identify what customers need or want, even if they are not aware of the need themselves. This capacity is one of the skills that he has perfected that propelled him to the front of the pack.

Managing information and knowledge is an increasing challenge. Sir Digby Jones raises the question about how we educate people to handle information better, so that they do not waste people’s time with giving them unnecessary information. He responds to this challenge by describing himself as an excellent delegator, prodigious reader and ruthless prioritizer. What he has to say about the difference between pressure and stress is right on target.

Dianne Thompson examines the importance of managing activities and resources. She states: “I get very frustrated with the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality. That is not the way to run a business. The way to run a business is always to look for efficiencies, look for ways to drive sales, to drive profits.”

Andy Green deals with managing oneself. He stresses the importance of managing one’s time, managing oneself mentally, managing oneself physically, managing one’s image and managing one’s growth. He values being in the present and, when at home, being fully at home and not working.

Each of the managers believes in the importance of openness, integrity or of “being oneself”. Each is passionate and determined.

Reviewed by David D. McIntire, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California, USA.

A longer version of this review was originally published in Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 28 No. 8, 2007.

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