30 years of Harvard Business Review thinking on the attributes of the effective executive: a repository of much-cited...


EXECUTIVE SUCCESS: Making It in Management

30 years of Harvard Business Review thinking on the attributes of the effective executive: a repository of much-cited articles--but otherwise? Editor Collins emphasizes, and the first section features, ""personal maturity,"" ""changing one's self-concept""; to an extent the succeeding sections--nominally on communications, power, and skills--also pay heed to ""tolerating ambiguity, having values, and being integrated."" But the editorial overlay is more sophisticated and coherent than the content. The first two sections contain respectable, unremarkable psychological self-help pieces: Carl Rogers on understanding the other's point of view and Fernando BartolomÉ on ""getting in touch with our feelings""; BartolomÉ and Abraham Zaleznik (another repeater) on learning from disappointment; etc. A high point and atonic, given the paucity of here-and-now examples, is the interview with three ""generations"" of Jewel Tea Co. leadership. ""Like myself and Lunding, he had a background of hard work, and he could work with people,"" says the second-in-line of his eventual successor; what remained, besides experience, was ""to teach him patience and take seine of the Harvard""--a problem, an answer--""influence out of him."" Here, too, are the contrasting, old-fashioned personal philosophies of Ebony's John H. Johnson (""Failure Is a Word I Don't Accept"") and Sohio's O. A. Ohmann (""Skyhooks""--for Monday-to-Friday). In the second and third sections, prescriptions-for-success, and organizational and management theory, predominate. Much of this is dry, schematic, workshop stuff: ""The drawbacks associated with the use of power based on perceived dependence are particularly important to recognize."" Rosabeth Mess Kanter, however, crisply dissects power-relations (""Staff people tend to act out their powerlessness by becoming turf-minded""); Peter Drucker applies his usual command of events (the 1965 northeastern power failure, the thalidomide tragedy, the Cuban missile crisis) to an analysis of decision-making; Laura Nash, B-school resident philosopher, discusses ethics systematically and in situ. (""How might your product be used if it happened to be acquired by a terrorist radical or a terrorist military police force?"" Is Project Minority Plant intended to help or exploit minorities?) Seine meaty contributions, seine continuing education--and altogether more consequential and illuminating than the Cox Report, below.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1982