Another book about leadership. When you read lots of business books, you get a bit jaundiced about the books that have nothing new to tell, rehash old themes, can be said in one page (or are a long drawn out version of an article in Harvard Business Review), are badly written, are badly researched (Collins) or are downright boring and tedious.
Taking people with you
In “Taking people with you” there is nothing new. Normally this is a book I don’t like. The structure of the book is to set your goals, know yourself, plan and follow through. Obvious. We have heard that a 1000 time.
A no-nonsense book about leadership
I loved it! A great no-nonsense book about leadership. A lot of things in the book are obvious, but Novak combines it with great war stories, checklists and things to think about. It is credible because he has walked the walk. Unlike “What matters now” this book gives you the tools to do what Hamel preaches.
Novak starts with setting your goals. What is the biggest thing that you can imagine that will change your business? Who do you need to affect? What are your people thinking?
The next stage of the book focussed entirely on you as a leader. Who are you? What makes you tick? Straight from “The naked leader”. Platitudes such as “be your best self’, “become a know how junkie” and ‘unleash the power of your people”. This time it works. Not really sure why? Maybe because I agree with everything he suggests. The best part is when he talks about how extraordinary authenticity is vital for you being a leader. Be you, be yourself, no hiding and follow your beliefs.
“You” is followed by your plan, which in his opinion is strategy, structure and culture. Nothing new. His advice is to tell it as it is and how it could be. Straight talking, and make sure you get your people involved (telling is not selling). Mission (the power of works), vision, team, focus on what matters, create hope, people first, productive conflict, etc. , etc. You have heard that before too. Not the way he explains and describes it. The thing that should out for me was the focus on constantly identifying unfinished business. It is not always about the next new thing.
This is why you were hired. Making sure it happens. His advice, be a walking add for the change, go public so you can’t go back and use recognition to drive performance. Meaning that you measure what matters and make it matter by and recognising and celebrate the results.
Finally; keep going and be relentless in communication the plans.
Me to we
The finish of the book is lovely. In his view, leaders need to move from “me” to “we”. If I hated the book that would be the part to really put in the boot. From “me to we” has been around for a while. Instead, with Novak, it works. And I think to goes back to his advice on extreme authenticity. This book is Novak being authentic and honest. It has captured the essence of his belief and commitment to get the best out of his people.