Management IT Mentoring & Coaching

How to use soft skills to get hard results by Mike Brent & Fiona Elsa Dent

This book is on CMI’s Book of Year Short List announced in October 2011 and the winner will be announced on 6th February 2012.  Here’s an extract to whet your appetite:-

The Leader's Guide to Influence

Create powerful working relationship and become a more influential leader

Creative effective working relationships is one of the most powerful ways to get things done at work.  People skills are often described as “soft skills”, but there’s nothing soft about the impact they can have on your business performance.  As a manager or leader, using your influence positively, working others and getting things done through other people is critical to delivering your business objectives.  This book shows you how to step up your people skills to get the results you want.

The Leader’s Guide to Influence will help you to understand the most critical aspects of managing your relationships at work, including influence, communication, engagement and trust.  It will give you the tools and techniques to use this understanding confidently and effectively to get things done.

Through a combination of ground rules, self-evaluation, practical exercises, case studies and no-nonsense advice, The Leader’s Guide to Influence shows you how to:

  • Increase your impact and crate the right impression on others
  • Gain greater awareness of your own communication style and approach
  • Tailor your management style to work effectively with different types of people
  • Communicate more effectively in a wide range of situations
  • Build high quality networks
  • Understand your colleagues and direct reports better
  • Put things right if relationships go off track
  • Listen and question effectively
  • Give better feedback
  • Develop rapport and empathy
  • Bring honesty, integrity and authenticity to your relationships.

Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)

Steve Jobs 1955-2011 (c) Apple Computers

(c) Apple Computers

Steve Jobs: How to live before you die:

Managing by Mintzberg

In association with the British Library, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) run the  “Management Book of the Year” competition.  Henry Mintzberg’s “Managing” won “CMI Management Book of the Year 2010” which is described as follows:

“Managing: the most revealing book yet written about what managers do, how they do it and how they can do it better.”

“This ground-breaking book draws on Mintzberg’s personal observations of 29 managers in a fascinating range of settings.  What he saw – the unrelenting pace, the frequent interruptions, the lack of any tangible signs that the job is ever complete – has compelled him to describe managing as a practice, not a science or a profession, one learned primarily through experience and rooted in context.  His probing analysis of management in action allows him to offer a compelling vision of what constitutes truly effective management.”

“This landmark book by one of the world’s leading business thinkers is about managing, pure if not simple.  It tackles the big questions managers everywhere face, such as:

  • How is anyone supposed to think, let alone think ahead, in this frenetic job?
  • Are leaders really more important than managers?
  • Is email destroying management practice?
  • Are managers the only ones who can, or should, manage?
  • How are managers supposed to connect when the very nature of their job disconnects them from what they are managing?
  • How can you manage it when you can’t reliably measure it?

Managing makes sense of what might be the world’s most important job.”

Chapter 1: Managing Ahead

Chapter 2: The Dynamics of Managing

Chapter 3: A Model of Managing

Chapter 4: The Untold Varieties of Managing

Chapter 5: The Inescapable Conundrums of Managing

Chapter 6: Managing Effectively


Some quotes which resonated with me:

“The manager has to help bring out the best in other people, so that they can know better, decide better, and act better.” 

“Managing is … all of them: it is controlling and doing and dealing and thinking and leading and deciding and more, not added up but blended together.”

“… the job of managing is significantly one of information processing, especially through a great deal of listening, seeing, and feeling, as well as a good deal of talking.”

“… on the individual level, managers coach, train, mentor, teach, counsel, nurture: in general, they help develop the individuals in their units.”

“…the job of development is perhaps best seen as managers helping people to develop themselves.”

“Probably the most popular typology … has been that of Myers-Briggs … I have never been much of a fan of this (having never been able to get past Sensing vs. Intuition:  Is not Thinking, more specifically analyzing, the opposite of Intuition?  I prefer Maccoby’s (1976) simpler categories of managers as:

  • reliable craftsmen
  • power-hungry jungle fighters
  • steady company men or
  • competitive gamesman

“Let me re-iterate.  Personal style is important, no question.  But that seems to be more about how managers do things, including the decisions they make and the strategies they shape, than what they do as managers.  In this regard, the literature, practitioner and academic alike, may be vastly overrating the importance of personal style.  Style matters and context matters, but mostly, they matter together, in a symbiotic relationship.”

“Effective managers think for themselves.”

“Managing is a tapestry woven of the threads of reflection, analysis, worldliness, collaboration, and pro-activeness, all of it infused with personal energy and bonded by social integration.”

Microsoft reveals Windows 8

Windows 8
Article from BBC’s website:
Microsoft has taken the wraps off the next generation of its Windows operating system.

Windows 8 is designed to run on tablet computers, as well as desktop and laptop PCs.

The software, which is due to be released in 2012 will work on the popular ARM-designed low power processors for the first time.

Microsoft has been under pressure to come up with an answer to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms.

Unveiling Windows 8 at the Build developers’ conference in California, Windows division president Steven Sinofsky declared: “We re-imagined Windows.   From the chipset to the user experience.”

Another relevant article from SiliconValley:

Belbin – Team Roles

Belbin Team Roles at WorkBelbin’s renowned Team Role theory is a familiar concept for managers and management trainers across the world.

Team Roles at Work is the best-selling, second book, written by Meredith Belbin, designed for any manager who wants to understand the practical application of Team Role theory.

Chapter 1 – How roles at work emerged

Chapter 2 – The qualifications mystery

Chapter 3 – Emergence of a Team Role language

Chapter 4 – Eligibility versus suitability

Chapter 5 – Coherent and incoherent role profiles

Chapter 6 – Interpersonal chemistry in the workplace

Chapter 7 – Managing difficult working relationships

Chapter 8 – A strategy for self-management

Chapter 9 – The art of building a team

Chapter 10 – The management of succession

Chapter 11 – Leadership of the modern world

Chapter 12 – The changing shape of organisation

I found Chapter 9 – The art of building a team – particularly useful:

Identifying needs:

Key figures at this stage are individuals with a good awareness of goals.  Shapers and Co-ordinators make their mark strongly in this area.

Finding Ideas:

It is often easier to formulate an objective than to decide how that objective can be achieved.  Nothing begins to happen until someone has some ideas on how to proceed.  Here Plants and Resource Investigators have a crucial role to play.

Formulating Plans:

Thinking about how it is all going to happen involves two prime objectives.  One entails setting out and weighing up the options, so providing pointers to the right decision.  The second demands making good use of all relevant experience and knowledge so that any plans developed have the stamp or professionalism upon them.  Monitor Evaluators make especially good long-term planners and Specialists also have a key role to play at this stage.

Making contacts:

No plan is ever accepted unless people are persuaded that an improvement is in prospect.  Ideas and plans need to be championed by cheerleaders who can drie home their value and win over the doubting Thomases.  This is an activity in which Resource Investigators are in their element.  But whipping up enthusiasm is not enough.  Each new practice conflicts with the old one.  Some disturbed group will need to be appeased.  The best appeasers are Teamworkers. 

Establishing the organisation:

One can never be sure that anything is going to happen until plans are turned into procedures, methods and working practices so that they may become routines.  Here Implementers are in their element.  These routines, however, need people to make them work.  Getting the people to fit the system is what Co-ordinators are good at.

Following Through:

Too many assumptions are made that all will work out well in the end.  Good follow-through benefits from the attentions of concerned people.  This is where Completer-Finishers make their mark.  Implementers, too, pull their weight in this area, for they pride themselves on being efficient in anything they undertake.

For more information:


Plant: Creative, imaginative, unorthodox. Solves difficult problems.

Resource Investigator: Extrovert, enthusiastic, communicative. Explores opportunities.  Develops contacts.

Co-ordinator: Mature, confident, a good chairperson.  Clarifies goals, promotes decision-making, delegates well.

Shaper: Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure.  Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles.

Monitor Evaluator: Sober, strategic, discerning.  Sees all options.  Judges accurately.

Teamworker: Co-operative, mild, perceptive, diplomatic.  Listens, builds, averts friction, calms the waters.

Implementer: Disciplined, reliable, conservative, efficient.  Turns ideas into practical actions.

Completer Finisher: Painstaking, conscientious, anxious.  Searches out errors or omissions.  Delivers on time.

Specialist: Single-minded, self-starting, dedicated.  Provides knowledge and skills in rare supply.

Shakespeare: 2012

(c) The British Museum - Shakespeare Exhibition July 2012Shakespeare: staging the world at the British Museum

19 July – 25 November 2012

400 years ago, the playhouse dominated society.
William Shakespeare was at the centre of this exciting new medium and his tales echo down through the ages. The exhibition will provide a unique insight into the  emerging  role of London as a world city around 1612 seen through the lens of Shakespeare’s plays.

Maps, prints, drawings, paintings, tapestries, arms and armour, coins and much more will retell Shakespeare’s stories to London in 2012 – a time when the whole world  will once again focus on this truly global city.

The exhibition opens in July 2012, but you can book your tickets now

Who Moved My Cheese?

Who Moved My CheeseWho Moved My Cheese? is  a simple parable that reveals profound truths.  It is an amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy.

Cheese is a metaphor for what you want to have in your life – whether it is a good job, a loving relationship, money or a possession, health or spiritual peace of mind.

And the maze is where you look for what you want – the organisation you work in, or the family or community you live in.

This profound book from best selling author, Dr Spencer Johnson will show you how to:

  • Anticipate change
  • Adapt to change quickly
  • Enjoy change
  • Be ready to change quickly, again and again

Discover the secret for yourself and learn how to deal with change, so that you suffer less stress and enjoy more success in your work and in your life.”

In his Foreward, Ken Blanchard said “I’m such a strong believer in the power of ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ that I recently [c 1998] gave a copy of an early pre-publication edition to everyone (more than 200 people) working with our company.  Why?  Because like every company that wants to not only survive in the future but stay competitive, Blanchard Training & Development is constantly changing.  They keep moving our “cheese”.  While in the past we may have wanted loyal employees, today we need flexible people who are not possessive about “the way things are done around here.”

Over 24 million copies have been sold.

I first read this little book in 1999 and I still find it useful.  I personally relish change (and deliberately seek it out) which sometimes makes it hard for me to understand what other people (who find change difficult) feel and think.   This book gave me considerable insight.  I’ve read some reviews where people have said that this book “states the obvious” and therefore isn’t worth reading; but I strongly disagree.  Sometimes what is obvious to one person is hidden from someone else and sometimes the simplest metaphors contain the most profound truths.