Real-life lessons on how managers can maximize their employees’ potential by recognizing the power of seemingly everyday moments.
The boss is always being watched—his or her employees ponder every word and discuss every deed. Wasserman and Katz call this the “invisible spotlight,” and getting the most from employees depends on how managers conduct themselves and their relationships under its ceaseless glare. The authors argue that managers commonly underestimate the impact they have on their employees. Well-crafted encouragement can set the stage for improvement, while a callous demeanor can undermine the management relationship. Like an architect designing a building, the effective leader deliberately creates conditions that enable subordinates to achieve goals. Distilling decades of consulting work into a slim, potent text, Wasserman and Katz sidestep the buzzwords and management “formulas” that have overrun the genre. Instead their book teaches by example through war stories from the corporate front lines. A case study about a caustic yet capable trucking manager in Ohio reveals how a boss can improve the bottom line but demoralize his workforce in the process, putting longer-term success in jeopardy. The story of a nitpicking boss who tried to artificially create a “Caring Culture” in her department underscores the importance of credibility. The successful transformation of a former superstar employee to a behind-the-scenes leader offers a lesson in how to adapt to a new role. Whether dealing with an office diva or apologizing for an outburst, managers at all levels can find guidance in these succinct pages. The authors could have done more to address how carelessly composed emails and text messages—those imperfect modes of communication essential in today’s workplace—can damage relationships as easily as the spoken word. Still, the book’s authenticity makes up for this oversight, and makes it a welcome addition in cubicles and executive suites alike.
A trove of insightful parables for anyone who has struggled in a managerial role.