In brief

28th May 2004 at 01:00
I'll Show Them Who's Boss: the six secrets of successful management

By Gerry Robinson

BBC Books pound;16.99

Sir Gerry Robinson, who visited eight companies to give management advice in the television series on which this book is based, would never agree with the cartoonist Dilbert's view of people in the league table of a company's assets ("They come in at 12th, after carbon paper"). His chapter on "your people" is a masterclass in how to be a boss. "It takes a good deal of time to get past the front that people present to you as their boss," he says, "but I assure you that it is time well spent."

One lesson you take away from this book is that there is much about being a leader that you can't rush; spend half a day with each strong candidate for a job, the author advises. And don't waste your energies on trivialities, because "while you're watching the pennies, someone will run off with the pounds".

The six secrets of the book's subtitle are: leadership; taking charge of the future of your business; getting commitment from your workforce; doing the dirt - once; rising above the detail; and communication. Each is illustrated by a case study based on the TV series. None was a school, and yet so many of problems are recognisable: the disillusioned boss who fails to motivate people; the management team frozen in its tracks by internal bickering; the old guard failing to give space to younger people with ideas. All issues concerning people and leadership rather than resources or legislation.

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