Leadership for Dummies by Marshall Loeb and Stephen Kindel, IDG Books, 358 pages,$19.99.
Sound Advice on Leading ... for Everyone
Despite their strident yellow covers and cartoonish graphics, the ... for Dummies books are in most cases filled with clearly explained, well-organized, commonsense advice. Leadership for Dummies is no exception. Written by Loeb, former managing editor of Fortune and Money magazines, and Kindel, former senior editor at Financial World and Forbes magazines and currently an information technology consultant, the book lays out the basics of leadership from mapping out expectations and setting goals to leading in a diverse world.
The Challenge of Delegation
In a chapter entitled "Managing as a Leader," for example, the authors explain how to set reasonable goals, how to delegate, what to delegate, and how to settle disputes among team members. Some of the advice that emerges from this chapter:
Don't get bogged down by people. When delegating, the authors write, "don't allow yourself to be distracted by all the petty aspects of human behavior," including personality conflicts and charges of favoritism.
SWOT your staff. One of the first steps in assuming a leadership role is to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the most important members of your team.
Run a "play clock" in your head. You should not only know all the major deadlines affecting your team, you should also check in before deadlines to make sure that projects are on track. But remember, write the authors: "You want them to do the work. You're there to set the team on its path and to encourage the team members to follow it."
After a number of sections on topics such as what it takes to be a leader, the leadership process, leadership and vision, and team building, the book ends with a series of list of tens, notably "ten mistakes that every leader makes" and "ten ways to master leadership skills." Like the remainder of the book, these lists carry few surprises but offer solid advice that all leaders, and especially new ones, would do well to keep in mind.