Apr 26 2012

Book Short: Required Reading, Part II

Book Short:  Required Reading, Part II

Every once in a while, a business book nails it from all levels.  Well written, practical, broadly applicable to any size or type of organization, full of good examples, full of practical tables and checklists.   The Leadership Pipeline, which I wrote about here over six years ago, is one of those books — it lays out in great and clear detail a framework for understanding the transition from one level to another in an organization and how work behaviors must change in order for a person to succeed during and on the other side of that transition.  In an organization like Return Path‘s which is rapidly expanding and promoting people regularly, this is critical.  We liked the book so much that we have adopted a lot of its language and have built training courses around it.

The book’s sequel, The Performance Pipeline (book, Kindle), also by Stephen Drotter but without the co-authors of the original book, is now out — and it’s just as fantastic.  The book looks at the same six level types in an organization (Enterprise Manager, Group Manager, Business Manager, Functional Manager, Manager of Managers, Manager of Others, and Self Managers/Individual Contributors) and focuses on what competencies people at each level must have in order to do their jobs at maximum effectiveness — and more important, in order to enable the levels below them to operate in an optimal way.

This book is as close to a handbook as I’ve ever seen for “how to be a CEO” or “how to be a manager.”  Coupled with its prequel, it covers the transition into the role as well as the role itself, so “how to become a CEO and be a great one.”  As with the prequel, the author also takes good care to note how to apply the book to a smaller organization (from the below list, usually the top three levels are combined in the CEO, and often the next two are combined as well).  No synopsis can do justice to this book, but here’s a bit of a sense of what the book is about:

  • Enterprise Manager:  role is to Perpetuate the Enterprise and develop an Enterprise-wide strategic framework – what should we look like in 15-20 years, and how will we get the resources we need to get there?
  • Group Manager:  role is to manage a portfolio of businesses and develop people to run them
  • Business Manager:  role is to optimize short- and long-term profit and develop business-specific strategies around creating customer and stakeholder value
  • Functional Manager:  role is to drive competitive advantage and functional excellence
  • Manager of Managers:  role is to drive productivity across a multi-year horizon, and focus
  • Manager of Others:  role is to enable delivery through motivation, context setting, and talent acquisition
  • Self Managers/Individual Contributors:  role is to deliver and to be a good corporate citizen

I could write more, but there’s too much good stuff in this book to make excerpts particularly useful.  The Performance Pipeline is another one of those rare – “run, don’t walk, to buy” books.  Enjoy.  For many of my colleagues at RP – look out – this one is coming!