Back To School for Managers

It's fall. School's in session and everyone's hauling home books to do their homework. Are you doing your homework as a manager?

Try these "textbooks" for an easy autumn management curriculum.

First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman is yet another "best practices" book to business, but specifically about management style.

From, "Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman expose the fallacies of standard management thinking. . . . In seven chapters, the two consultants for the Gallup Organization debunk some dearly held notions about management, such as 'treat people as you like to be treated'; 'people are capable of almost anything'; and 'a manager's role is diminishing in today's economy.' 'Great managers are revolutionaries,' the authors write. 'This book will take you inside the minds of these managers to explain why they have toppled conventional wisdom and reveal the new truths they have forged in its place.'

The authors have culled their observations from more than 80,000 interviews conducted by Gallup during the past 25 years. Quoting leaders such as basketball coach Phil Jackson, Buckingham and Coffman outline ‘four keys' to becoming an excellent manager: Finding the right fit for employees, focusing on strengths of employees, defining the right results, and selecting staff for talent–not just knowledge and skills."

The New Pioneers: The Men and Women Who Are Transforming the Workplace and Marketplace by Thomas Petzinger Jr

From Publisher's Weekly, "Wall Street Journal columnist Petzinger (Hard Landing) does an excellent job of spotlighting the faces behind the businesses that are leading the way into what he calls the ‘new economy.' The new economy is entrepreneurial, not corporate; it stresses adaptation rather than bureaucratic planning, ‘teamwork' and ‘empowerment' rather than rigid command-and-control structures. While the stories of the people behind innovative companies are often intriguing, readers will be left wondering what to do with this information. Some readers will even find Petzinger's premise puzzling. For instance, his introductory example is an innovative Philadelphia pharmacy that managed to succeed in a poverty-stricken area of the city. Petzinger is full of justified admiration for the way the owner wedded his pharmacy to the community, offered employees profit sharing and made a mint. Ultimately, however, the owner was so successful that he sold his three stores to Rite-Aid. This inspiring and informative book would have been even better had Petzinger delved more deeply into the paradox that the successes and innovations of the new pioneers he celebrates coincide with an era of increasing corporate consolidation. Readers are left wanting more guidance from someone who clearly knows the territory."