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Work Leaders

Thousands of business management books appear every year, ranging from academic textbooks packed with theory - but little practical advice - to the reminiscences of retired CEOs recounting how they saved XYZ Inc from disaster and made themselves millions in stock options.

But suppose you are a fresh new manager or supervisor. Where can you get some reassuring reading, offering practical management advice and based on real-life experience that relates to your situation? Theories can make sense in retrospect. They help clarify jumbled thoughts and experiences - after the event, especially after several years of hard-gained experience. And for the new supervisor or team leader, the problems of large organizations are too remote - you have a handful of people to look after, not tens of thousands.

Gerald M. Czarnecki's new book You're in Charge ... what now? (Griffin Publishing) is a fresh attempt to clarify what it means to be a Work Leader, based on real-life experience. Czarnecki says that the book 'is the result of learning and leading. Sometimes I got it right; other times I had a "negative learning experience." In spite of either, I always tried to grow.' Czarnecki has "been there and done that" at every level in an organization from hands-on experience at the lowest level to the top jobs. And it shows. This book is different.

You're in Charge ... what now? is a digestible (171 pages) and carefully structured book packed with insights on what it means to be a Work Leader.

Leaders, managers and CEOs

Czarnecki argues that successful managers must be good leaders: 'People will not continue to achieve for a failed leader. For this reason, the practice of leadership is as important at the first level of management as it is at the highest - indeed, maybe even more so.'

He also identifies the crucial difference between leadership at the top and that at the 'coal face':

'The roles of CEO and a Work Leader are strikingly different but most books on leadership do not focus on the people who lead those who do the work. Work leaders must delegate tasks, but they cannot delegate the leadership. The work needs to get done and the hands-on leader must be there every day, helping the staff get the work done. There is no escape for the person charged with leading a work group that has daily deadlines and must meet daily expectations.'

Seven Essential Steps

The sub-title of the book is 'Seven essential steps for work leader success'. The seven steps are each given a chapter and focus on a word commencing with a letter from 'Leaders':

Love - Friends Like but Leaders Love
Expectations - Setting the Bar Sets the Tone
Assignment - Square Pegs in Round Holes Never Fit!
Development - The Good Get Better, the Best Excel!
Evaluation - Leaders Succeed By Making Judgments
Rewards - An Organization Elicits the Behavior it Rewards
Self - Work Leaders Must Lead Themselves

Why 'love' you might ask? Czarnecki is not implying sexual or even brotherly love. Instead he advocates the qualities of a third type of love called agape by the ancient Greeks:

'... the fine art - and even emotion - of loving people as members of humanity. It means we have a sensitivity to them that exceeds being polite. It means we pay attention to them, beyond just keeping them from being angry with us. It means helping them just because they are people, not because they are nice people, and helping them even when they find accepting help difficult. It means telling them bad news with sensitivity, not being brutally frankand blunt. In short, it means being sensitive to their needs, feelings, and difficulties.'

You can love (agape) your people but you do not necessarily have to like them. Czarnecki provides an intriguing discussion of what it means to supervise people you don't like and the pitfalls of liking your staff, such as overlooking weaknesses. He also discusses the problem of working for a leader who does not show love and provides a succinct definition of the term 'tough love.'

Czarnecki's other essential steps are more easily grasped at first glance. But each draws on rich insights and practical experience. As with the first step, each chapter includes a set of practical tips, a closing case study and questions to test your understanding. But in each chapter, there are scores of sensible and thought-provoking suggestions, comments and criticisms of common practice.

All-in-all, a good buy for the new and aspiring work leader.

You're in Charge...What Now?

by Gerald M. Czarnecki
Whether you lead a team of colleagues for a Fortune 500 company or run your own small company with seven employees, You're in Charge...What Now? will help you achieve peak performance results and give you the edge needed to achieve your goals.
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