Book Review – The Six Conversations of a Brilliant Manager by Alan J. Sears

six conversationsThe 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. Continue reading

One Idea Group Session from Leading Teams by Anne Donnellon


Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash


This resource will help you to facilitate a short group session to learn from the One Idea Summary on ‘Three Actions for Leading a Team’.


  • Be able to describe the three actions for leading a team.
  • Reflect on how to apply the three actions to their own team.


Send a copy of the One Idea Summary on ‘Three Actions for Leading a Team’ to the participants at least one week before the session. Tell them to read it before coming and bring it with them to the session.


Introduce the session (5-minutes) Continue reading

Book Review – Leading Teams by Anne Donnellon

Leading teamsLeading Teams by Anne Donnellon is another of the books from the HBS Press Pocket Mentor series. This particular one focuses on some of the necessary things we need to do to build successful and effective teams. As is the custom with these series of books, it is separated into two parts. The first part, titled, ‘Team Management: The Basics, contains the main contents of the books, while the second part called, ‘Tips and Tools’, has some extra information. Following is quick review of both parts of the book.



This part of the book has six chapters.

What is a Team?

In this chapter Anne discusses what a team is by describing the different types of teams, the benefits of teams and also helps us understand what the problems with teams may be.

How to plan for a productive team

This chapter is all about understanding what is necessary to develop productive teams. Key information discussed includes:

  • Understand what teams do, which explains the key purpose of teams.
  • The characteristics of productive teams which outlines features for effective teams such as, team members agreeing and participating in setting realistic team goals, team goals taken more important than individual goals and members of the team being open to new ideas.
  • How to plan for a productive team.
  • Things that signal the failure of a team.

How to form a productive team

Two main points are discussed in this chapter about how to form a productive team and they are, identifying team roles and selecting the right kind of team members. Some of the points touched on under these two topics are:

  • The importance of hiring for attitude and training for skills
  • Appropriate team size
  • Being sensitive about people’s motivation
  • Being clear about contributions and rewards

How to lead a team

This chapter summarises some of the key principles necessary to lead a team effectively. The principles discussed include:

  • Recognising that teams develop in four stages which are, are, team formation, conflict, normalization and performance.
  • Organising a start-up meeting to set the scene for the team, discuss the team’s purpose and establishing how the team will work together.
  • Clarify team goals to everyone.
  • Establish ground rules.
  • Assume your role as team leader.
  • Improve team communication.
  • Develop a high performing team.
  • Take a periodic time-out.

How to handle team problems

Teams will run into problems from time to time. Here, tips for handling team problems are discussed. Some of the key problems that can occur in teams are identified and how to resolve with discussed. These problems may be:

  • The team getting off target or not aligned to what they should be achieving.
  • Problems with the team leader’s leadership style.
  • Performance problems.
  • Conflict in the team.
  • Factions developing in the team.
  • One-to-one conflict.
  • Dropping team commitment.

How to evaluate performance

This is the last chapter which focuses on a very important aspect of teams, evaluating their performance. The three points discussed are:

  • Using appropriate performance measures.
  • Selecting evaluation methods.
  • Reviewing performance of individual team members.

There is also a brief mention of the importance of rewarding team members.


This is the second part of the book and it provides some extra resources to reinforce the lessons in the book. There are three main tools. The first one is a collection of all the templates in the first part of the book. These templates are

  • A worksheet for forming a team.
  • Checklist for assessing your team’s goals.
  • Team contact information.
  • Role clarification worksheet.
  • Promoting team interdependence checklist.
  • Team time-out rating sheet.
  • Checklist for evaluating yourself as a leader.
  • Working through a disagreement template.

The second tool is a 10-question quiz with their answers. The quiz is to review some of the knowledge gained from reading the book.

The final tool are references to resources to learn more about the topic of leading teams.

Summarily, this 100-pages book presents lots of information about leading teams. No matter how experienced you are, there is something you can learn from reading it.

Book Review – Pocket Mentor: Managing Teams

Managing TeamsHarvard Business Review’s (HBR) Pocket Mentor series provides pocket sized books on various topics for management and leadership. Overall there are aout 40 books in the series covering topics such as, coaching people, creating a business plan, delegating work and leading people

Over the next couple of weeks I will be reviewing ten of these books so get ready. The first one I’m reviewing in this post is titled, Managing Teams. This book written by Anne Donnellon is a mini 91 paged book with quick tools and tips around managing teams. As it is with the pocket mentor series, the book doesn’t have chapters, but rather topics which provide quick content that is easy to grasp and I believe apply. Tere is no in depth or mind bending stuff here, just simple information that you can start using. Continue reading