People Tools for Business: A book review by Bob Morris

People Tools:BusinessPeople Tools for Business
Alan Fox
SelectBooks (2014)

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” Yogi Berra

Here are 50 strategies (“hammers”) that can drive initiatives (“tactics”) to help individuals as well as organizations to “build success, create wealth, and find happiness,” however defined. Each of the 50 is anchored in a real-world context involving real people coping with real issues. None of the strategies is a head-snapper, nor does Alan Fox make any such claim. However, all of them stress one or more core values that are essential to personal growth and professional development as well as organizational health and prosperity.

I agree with Warren Buffett: “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

My own take on the material in People Skills for Business is that the 50 strategies can be condensed in the form of five essentials:

1. Being respected and trusted as well as liked always trumps being brilliant, always being “right.”

2. No one and nothing is insignificant but in almost any situation, degree of relevance must be carefully considered.

3. Set your priorities or someone else will.

4. Always tell the truth and you’ll never contradict yourself.

5. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do that convinces others how much you care about them.

Were I younger and more flexible in my current situation, I would jump at the opportunity to found and then build a company with Alan Fox. He comes across in this book as thoughtful, caring, shrewd, wise, prudent, passionate, and perhaps most important of all, he seems to possess highly developed emotional intelligence.

His thoughts about leadership again remind me of a passage in Lao-Tzu’s 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.”

With all due respect to the importance of “people tools,” I presume to suggest that they will be of little (if any) value to any leader unless the use of them is motivated by a sincere and tenacious commitment to help others to achieve personal growth and professional development. Only then will leaders prove worthy of those entrusted to their care.

Posted in

Leave a Comment