HBR’s 10 Must Reads for New Managers: A book review by Bob Morris

HBR’s 10 Must Reads for New Managers
Various Contributors
Harvard Business Review Press (February 2017)

“There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker

This is the latest volume in a series of anthologies of ten articles selected by the editors of Harvard Business Review because they offer practical advice that is both timely and timeless for new (first-time) managers as well as for others who are entrusted with the responsibility to supervise a new group of direct reports. The bonus article, Michael Watkins’ “How Managers Become Leaders,” all by itself is worth far more than the total cost of this volume. Moreover, the total cost of the eleven articles would cost about $70 if purchased individually as reprints.

The material provided will help executives to achieve strategic objectives that include these, each preceded by “How to”:

o Become a boss
o Lead a team you inherit
o Save a first-time manager from themself
o Manage a high-intensity workplace environment
o Harness “the science of persuasion”
o Understand what makes (or breaks) a leader
o Resolve the “authenticity paradox”
o Create and then use networks of mutual support
o Manage time effectively
o Navigate “the seven seismic shifts of perspective and responsibility”

Peter Drucker provides the best business advice that I have as yet encountered. That said, even the right work cannot be managed efficiently if workers are not managed effectively. This is precisely what Lao-tse has in mind in the Tao Te Ching:

“Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know;
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.”

I also highly recommend two other volumes: HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2017: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year from Harvard Business Review (with a bonus article, Clayton Christensen’s “What Is Disruptive Innovation?”) and Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time, co-authored by George B. Bradt and Mary Vonnegut.

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