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The Management Gurus


Book reviews > The Management Gurus


Chris Lauer and Soundview Editorial Team (2008). The Management Gurus, Penguin Books


With a a subtitle 'Lessons from the best management books of all time' I approached this review with caution. Whilst the books summarized are indeed good (and I already have several on the shelf), I would be put off in a bookshop by such a bold claim and with which I disagree.

However, Soundview Executive Book Summaries are a well-established company who have, for many years, published paper and audio summaries of top books for busy business executives. And so I read on, and was glad that I did.

Summarizing is an art and a technique that, in my schooldays, was taught in the 'precis' form. The goal is to find the needles in the haystack of words and then present them in a coherent and readable form. And this set of summaries does this admirably well, with an initial overview and structured subsequent sections.

The value of this tome is in the ideas presented and, as you might hope from a collection of good books, they come thick and fast. Concepts are presented clearly and in a way that it is easy to adopt and adapt these for practical use.

The books summarized in this book include many famous names and reach across a range of important topics:


Title Author Micro-summary
Winning with People John C Maxwell Five questions and 25 principles for a motivated workforce.
Topgrading Bradford D Smart Hiring, using and keeping  A-players, and so building a company of stars.
Jack Welch and the 4Es of Leadership Jeffrey A Krames Four keys to great leadership: Personal Energy, Energizing others, having 'Edge' and Execution.
The Leadership Challenge Jams M Kouzes and Barry Z Posner Five practices of exemplary leadership: modeling, visioning, challenging, enabling, encouraging.
Gods of Management Charles Handy Trust, bureacracy, problem-solving and individualism, and how to manage the mix.
Influencer Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler Personal, social and structural methods of changing motivation and ability.
True North Bill George with Peter Sims Finding your 'authentic leadership' style in values, motivations and self-awareness with a sound support team and an integrated life.
What Got You Here Won't Get You There Marshall Goldsmith Be increasingly successful by eliminating bad habits and building effective ones.
Judgment Noel M Tichy and Warren G Bennis Develop good learning and decision ability around people, strategy and in crises.
Small Giants Bo Burlingham Why and how companies choose to be great instead of big.
Dealing With Darwin Geoffrey A Moore Innovation for survival, growth and product lifecycle extension.
Wikinomics Don Tapscott and Anthony D Williams When people collaborate they create new and very different economic dynamics, both within and between organisations.
Managing Crises Before They Happen Ian I Mitroff with Gus Anagnos Building a proactive crisis management system to cover economic, information, physical, people, reputation, psychopathic and natural domains.
The Leader of the Future Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith and Richard Beckhard Condensed advice on leadership from many gurus, from Drucker onwards. 
The Next Global Stage Kenichi Ohmae Strategic challenges in the cybercontinent, competition, platforms and government.


Overall, then, this is a splendid collection of extremely readable summaries of some excellent management books, and it would be hard not to recommend it wholeheartedly. I would, however, recommend reading only one summary at a time and spend a while digesting the nuggets presented before moving on to the next. You can also of course read only about those books which cover your current interests.

I can see Soundview producing an ongoing series of books like this, perhaps one per year with what might be more reasonably claimed as the best books of the year. I, for one, would be a willing subscriber!



Buy Me

Chris Lauer, 2008, The Management Gurus, Penguin Books 

How to read 15 great management books in one go. A very readable collection of classic and recent books, from Handy's Gods of Management to Tapscott and Williams' Wikinomics.



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