Janet Brady, PhD

Organisational Linguist

5 Top Management Books for Christmas

I’ll be honest about these management books I have selected. None of them are quick fix-it type books. Instead, they offer readers an opportunity to explore new ways of thinking about commonly accepted practices (see my tips for selecting business books).

But be warned. If you think these books look interesting, you are likely to buy two copies. One to put under someone’s Christmas tree, the other for you.

The Halo Effect: … and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers (by Phil Rosenzweig, 2007)

If you have been let down by books that claim to provide THE ANSWER to your BIG PROBLEM, then this is the book for you.

Phil Rosenzweig wrote The Halo Effect when he noticed his management students tended to accept at face value claims made by business books. The purpose of this book is to provide the analytic tools for identifying misleading claims, inadequate research methods, and formulaic advice.

Using examples from the popular books Built to Last, Good to Great and In Search of Excellence, Rosenzweig identifies nine delusions including attributions about performance, correlation and causality, and single explanation.

 

Coaching Models: A Cultural Perspective (by Diane Lennard, 2010)

The key to understanding how this book stands out from the pack lies in its subtitle: model development. In other words, unlike books on coaching that promote a particular method, this book helps both novice and experienced coaches develop or improve their own unique approach to coaching.

Diane Lennard first synthesises the theoretical foundations of and guidelines for coaching. She then explores coaching models and their functions, and provides practical exercises for readers to explore their own coaching models. In a fascinating account of her life, Diane outlines how her own coaching model evolved before concluding with a number of examples of her application of her model to different contexts.

 

False Prophets: The Gurus Who Created Modern Management and Why Their Ideas Are Bad For Business Today (by James Hoopes, 2003)

If your workplace places an emphasis on leadership, organisational culture, vision and values, development plans, and motivating others, then look no further.

James Hoopes reviews the history of US management ideas. Despite this focus, the book is relevant to organisations in any country that have adopted these management ideas.

Using agendas championed by key Gurus, Hoopes examines the irreconcilable tension between top-down management power and the democratic values and freedom championed by US citizens. He organises his discussion around the following themes:

  1. Work, where managers, through their power to determine your pay rate, decide the value of your work regardless of how flexible and cool your working conditions may be.
  2. Culture, through which organisations use internalised values as the means to restrict and control its employees, rather than undemocratic power.
  3. Leadership, which espouses the use of character and personality to motivate employees, while largely ignoring managers’ top-down power.
  4. Ethics, the ideas of culture and leadership suggesting that managers need humility rather than moral authority, as no human being is good enough to be entrusted with power.

 

The Rise of Psychomanagement in Australia (by Robert Spillane, 2012)

If you give this book as a present, it is best suited to operational managers. I do not recommend giving it to NLP or EQ devotees, Organisational Psychologists or HR employees, as they are likely to throw it in your face.

Robert Spillane begins with a succinct overview of Australian cultural roots. He then outlines how these roots have provided fertile ground for the ascendancy of “soft-skills” management in the Australian context.

Using themes from the workplace, including personality tests, emotional intelligence and leadership, Spillane debunks any link we believe may exist between personality and performance.

 

Antonio Gramsci (by Steven Jones, 2006)

Antonio Gramsci became a political prisoner during the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. His best known work is “Selections from a Prison Notebook”, a collection of over 30 notebooks smuggled out of prison. Gramsci never had an opportunity to collate and revise his notes, dying in 1937 at the age of 46.

Gramsci was interested in understanding how a dominant group uses cultural persuasion to gain the consent of the less powerful. He focused on understanding how the less powerful collude with the dominant group by reproducing its views and interests. View photos of crowds cheering 1930’s dictators and you get the idea.

In this book, Stephen Jones provides a concise yet comprehensive summary of Gramsci’s work. Using examples taken from management. Government and media, Jones applies Gramsci’s constructs to contemporary themes and contexts to make it both accessible and relevant to 21st century readers.

5 Top Management Books: List View

  1. Rosenzweig, P. (2007). The Halo Effect: … and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers. New York: Free Press.
  2. Lennard, D. (2010). Coaching Models: A Cultural Perspective. New York: Routledge.
  3. Hoopes, J. (2003). False Prophets: The Gurus Who Created Modern Management and Why Their Ideas Are Bad For Business Today. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publications.
  4. Spillane, R. (2011). The Rise of Psychomanagement in Australia. Melbourne: Michelle Anderson Publishing.
  5. Jones, S. (2006). Antonio Gramsci. London and New York: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

 

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