Manager's bible

lead review

Manager's bible

Manager at work Sharing tips to excel when the penny drops.

The book When the Penny Drops by R Gopalakrishnan describes the skills required in a manager to help him play a long, professional innings. The advice comes from four decades of experience of a high ranking professional manager R Gopalakrishnan who in this book has illustrated the necessity of these skills with short, illustrative real life incidents.

The book starts by describing the case of a manager (Ram) who had a roller coaster ride in his career. From a humble beginning, he overcame obstacles, seized opportunities and rose to become successful. Still he could not fulfill his dream of becoming Company Director. He resigned from the company with the confidence that many would be waiting to offer him a top job immediately. But that did not happen and he had the same feeling like other managers who at the end of their career realise that ‘the penny drops’.

The book has been divided in four parts. In the first part of the book, the author has introduced the framework developed in Tata Management Training Centre, Pune for classifying the lessons a person learns in his life. The framework has three worlds: the inner world (dealing with lessons about the person including strengths and weaknesses), the world of getting things done and the world of relationships with others. The leadership lessons are equally distributed among these three worlds, suggesting that an organisation’s leadership development program must be equally balanced to include all the three worlds.

The author has described the nine lessons, which are part of the inner world relating each of these with events in Ram’s life (described in the first chapter). The six lessons from the world of getting things done is vital to a management leader’s role. The world of people comprises of six lessons: from managing subordinates, team management to customer orientation.

In Part 1 of the book, the author also discusses the need for explicit and implicit feedback. People are constantly giving feedback : some are explicit, some are implicit. He refers to explicit feedback as Clementine mirror (named after the charming letter Clementine Churchill wrote to her husband Sir Winston Churchill).

A well meaning spouse can be the best source of explicit feedback as discussed in the book. Other means of getting feedback have been described in the book and seizing the benefits of such feedback is up to us. The author goes on to discuss the need for  developing empathy in a successful manager.

Part 2 describes the attributes required in the Inner World to be a successful manager. It includes the physical self (the need for fitness), the psychological self (need to enjoy life), and the ethical and spiritual self. Part 3  discusses the attributes for developing the world of people. It involves communicating with people around us by saying what we mean and its flip side (saying what we don’t mean).

Another important aspect is manager’s engagement with his work. The world of getting things done is an important attribute of a leader: he should be able to imagine shapes and events not palpable to all and get the ideas implemented by the team.  A successful manager  should lead with affection and be a transformer.

The book written in a lucid style with illustrative episodes makes it an interesting reading. The skills required in a successful manager has been very well brought out from the real life experience of one of India’s most successful corporate managers R Gopalakrishnan.
The book should be read by any individual who wants to overcome professional barriers and also by budding managers for learning the traits needed to avoid the kind of situation that arises when the penny drops.

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