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

Quick Review – Coaching and Mentoring by Harvard Business Essentials

Coaching and Mentoriing - Harvard Business EssentialsCoaching and Mentoring subtitled, How To Develop Top Talent and Achieve Stronger Performance is a book from the Harvard Business Essentials series which provides some very practical tips on coaching and mentoring. The book spends almost equal halves discussing both topics, but i believe it shines mostly in the practical and down-to-earth way it describes performance coaching. With material written in an accessible and easy-to-understand format, the book describes a four-step process focused on performance coaching, which in my opinion anyone can grasp. In terms of coaching it also:

  • tells us what coaching is and it’s benefits,
  • provides some tips on how to become a better coach, and
  • offers us some insight into executive coaching.

From a mentoring perspective, it provides some good information on the benefits of mentoring, the differences between mentoring and coaching, and matching mentors and mentees.

It also touches on the issue of how to to be a good mentor and discuss the challenges of mentoring women and minorities and other ways of mentoring distinct from the traditional mentoring set-up such as peer-to-peer mentoring and network mentoring

There are two appendices in the book which i find really useful:

  1. Appendix A describes eight steps for good performance appraisals. These are steps any of us can learn and start using instantly.
  2. Appendix B contains some implementation tools which can improve the effectiveness of coaching. These tools include, a coach’s self evaluation checklist and a tool on how to prepare a feedback session.

Overall i see this to be a very useful book which can give managers and organisations some practical tips about coaching and mentoring.