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The Art Of Being A Better Manager

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Books that are targeted at leaders — and aspiring leaders — vastly outnumber the books that are aimed at practising and aspiring managers. That's because the common perception is that leaders are dashing, visionary, creative, passionate and great motivators. In contrast, managers are considered more structured, rule oriented, orderly — all attributes that are virtuous no doubt, but also fairly dull as far as most people are concerned. Indeed, there is a whole body of literature devoted to the differences between the two sets of people. That's why it is so much more fashionable to write about leaders and leadership than about managers and managing.

In the real corporate world, though, the differences between the two are not as sharp as leadership authors like to believe. Sure, great leaders are often visionary, creative and passionate. But quite often, they are also structured, highly disciplined and often rule oriented. There are exceptions — great leaders who are terrible managers and vice-versa. But there are enough of those who can be called great leaders as well as managers. And often, unless they are entrepreneurs who have set up their own companies, great leaders rise through the ranks of a big corporation because they were great managers.


The Persuasive Manager: Communication Strategies For 21st Century Managers

By M.M. Monippally

Random House India

Price: Rs 299

Pages: 280


The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, has produced a fair number of great leaders and great managers. As the country's premier business school, it prides itself in turning out good managers. It has brought out two books aimed squarely at practising managers. (These two are part of four books being brought out under a series called Strategies For Success, but only two are for general management).

Both the books are compact volumes and aim at making simple points that will help the practicing manager work better and become more effective. Professor T.V. Rao, a human resources specialist, has focused on the essential skills a manager needs to do his job better. Go through the chapters in his book and you will realise why the differences between leaders and managers are often blurred. Rao's chapters focus on versatility, values, creativity, team building, talent management and motivation and leadership styles. These are also the chapters in too many leadership books.

Professor M.M. Monippally focuses on communication strategies for 21st century managers in his book. The point of the book is that to get almost anything done, you need to be persuasive. Whether you are dealing with subordinates, bosses, peers, vendors, colleagues from another department or even collaborators, you can make them see your point of view and carry them along in your work only if you have understood and mastered the fine art of persuasion.

Both the books set themselves as practical guides rather than theoretical constructs. Both authors follow a similar format (probably because the books have been written to conform to a series designed to be handbooks for practising managers). The books are liberally peppered with case studies, both foreign and Indian. And use simple-to-understand and fairly matter-of- fact language.

The books are easy reads and do not over- strain your brain. It appears though that the entire series was created keeping in mind short attention spans and busy schedules of most corporate executives. The chapters are brief, the examples are short and blunt, and each book can be finished over a weekend, provided you are prepared to spend a few hours with them.

Those who are looking for exciting new theories and breakthrough thinking in this series coming out of IIMA are likely to be disappointed. But those looking to brush up on many of the basic things that help in improving efficiency — both at a personal and at an official level — will find these two books as useful additions to their bookshelves.

                                                                 Other Books In The Series

Business And Intellectual

Property : Protect

Your Ideas

By Anurag k. Agarwal

Random House India

Pages: 184;

Price: Rs 299
Strategies For Growth: Help Your Business Move

Up The Ladder

By Atanu Ghosh

Random House India

Pages: 214;

Price: Rs 299

Click To Read An Interview With T.V. Rao

Click To Read An Interview With M.M. Monippally

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 15-11-2010)

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