The Six Conversations of a Brilliant Manager by Alan J. Sears is a book I gained a lot from. Written in a fictional format just like a novel, it explains some complicated aspects of management in simple to understand language using an interesting story. This is a very easy to read and understand book. The story is focused on six conversations that managers at some point in their career will need to have with the people they manage.
The main character in the book is Sam Mitchell who is suddenly promoted to be the UK Operations Manager of DecisionsMaker, a tech company, after his boss leaves the job. Sam doesn’t have experience as a manager, and he’s been put in charge of an unhappy team at a time when the company is going through some major challenges. The fact that he has been told by Arnold Kramer, one of the company’s founders to come up with results a month after he started in the role does not help. Add to that having to manage a difficult team and the scene for an interesting story on effective leadership and management is born.
There are other aspects which make the book exciting. Sam’s family life, his wife Laura is having battles with their teenage daughter and that story acts as an amusing distraction from Sam’s challenges at the office but contains its own lessons too. In the end, after four weeks, Sam does get his team to achieve some success which is presented to Arnold Kramer who is impressed. It’s not the success that Sam achieve with his team that is the crux of this book, but the conversations he has along the with each team member to initiate the behaviours that led to the success.
As the title of the book states, there are six conversations and they are plainly explained in the book. But just a bit about the book’s structure. The book is divided into two parts. The first part titled, ‘The Story’, is the fictional aspect where Sam works with his team using the six conversation to get results. The six conversations are:
- What can you do about that? A coaching conversation.
- Who should really own this? An accountability conversation.
- How should we be behaving? A difficult conversation.
- Who’s really doing this? A delegation conversation.
- Where are we heading? A career conversation.
- How are we doing? An appraisal (or performance review) conversation?
The second part makes the book even better. It’s titled, ‘The Conversations’. Here Alan takes the time to explain what each conversation is and how to use them in a non-fictional way. I found this part really valuable because it helped to solidify my understanding of the six conversations.
I have a lot of praise for this book. As I have written earlier, it is simple to read and understand and not voluminous. It teaches a number of complicated management related areas in an accessible format. If you are a manager buy this book. Yes, it’s a book that can seem detached from real life, but take the concepts and adapt them to your own reality