Author: Steven Brown
Publisher: Fleming H. Revell
Reviewer: Goke Ilesanmi
Most corporate organisations collapse today as a result of ineffective management. This is because most people find themselves in managerial positions without prior training or preparation. Many errors are therefore committed by such managers which negatively affect their organisations. It is therefore necessary for such managers to learn from this book entitled “13 Fatal Errors Managers Make and How You Can Avoid Them”. It is written by Steven Brown, president of the Fortune Group.
Brown says for many years now, the Fortune Group and himself have been helping businesses to succeed and managers to manage. He reveals that within this period, he has seen just about every kind of business situation. Brown adds that after all these years in the trenches, solving real, not textbook, problems, he has discovered that companies fail primarily because managers fail.
And when managers fail, it is not because they cannot master numbers, but because they try to master people, or manipulate them, or ignore them, educates Brown.
He says this book is for managers, or anyone that wants to be one someday. The author adds that it is equally for old managers and young people just starting their business career. It is about perfecting your leadership and managerial skills by avoiding the common errors managers make with the people they manage, he stresses.
Brown gives you the truly classic mistakes that managers have been making all over. According to him, these errors can prove fatal for an individual or a company. He adds that you do not have to commit any of these common defects of managerial character, habit, style and judgement if you know what they are.
Brown discloses that in the hundreds of companies that the Fortune Group has served in the United States, Canada and Australia, he has scrupulously catalogued all the most common managerial errors that occur in business situations that have gone sour. He adds that the words used to describe the situations may differ, but the underlying problems seldom do.
This book has 13 chapters based on the identified number of errors. Fatal error number is referred to as refusal to accept personal accountability. According to Brown here, the five prerequisites essential for business success are quality or unique product; proper timing; adequate capital; people resources; and effective management.
In his words, “But if you lack the fifth element, you will not have the first four. Why? Take a look at the influence the final one will have on the first four. Without effective management, correct decisions cannot be made about the product’s features and the proper time for its introduction into the marketplace.”
Brown adds that the company lacking proper management cannot acquire, much less sustain adequate capital. He says above all, it takes good management to attract the best people and to coach and develop them.
The author expatiates that in business, everything begins and ends with management, and in order to work effectively, management must be accountable. According to Brown, when Harry Truman was president of the United States, he had a sign in the Oval Office: “The buck stops here”.
The author therefore advises that every manager should adopt the same dictum. Brown also discusses other concepts such as choosing the path; the failure formula; the three unspoken words; a philosophy of management, etc. in this chapter.
Failure to develop people is identified as the fatal error number two. According to the business management consultant, management has a major purpose: to provide for the continuation of the business over time, personnel change and absence.
Brown says a properly-managed business can continue successful operation over generations of employees and during the temporary or permanent absence of any given manager. “Moreover, your permanent absence due to transfer to another position, retirement, poor health, or even death must not cripple the company. If it will, then you are neglecting your obligations as a manager,” he declares.
Brown also looks at the concepts of ineffective management; characters versus character; sideline managing; management traps, etc. in this chapter.
In chapters three to seven, he respectively examines the fatal errors of trying to control results instead of influencing thinking; joining the crowd; managing everyone the same way; forgetting the importance of profit; concentrating on problems rather than objectives.
Chapter eight is based on fatal error number eight, that is, being a buddy, not a boss. According to Brown, so often managers want to be the employees’ buddy after hours, then come into the office and manage the next day but the employees will not allow it. He says it is an “either-or” situation. That is, you must be the buddy or the manager. Brown expatiates that successful hybrids do not exist in such a situation.
He educates that most managers have received advice through the years concerning how they should conduct themselves when in the company of those they manage. The author says he believes that most of the advice is an expression of the personal conviction of those passing on the advice.
In chapters nine to twelve, Brown notionally X-rays the fatal errors of failing to set standards; failure to train people; condoning incompetence; and recognising only top performers.
The author says, “If you took all the top performers in your industry and hired them for your company, at the end of a year only one person would hold the number-one spot…You cannot hire all the top performers, and you cannot build any department within a company with only top producers.”
Chapter thirteen, the last chapter is based on the fatal error number thirteen, that is, trying to manipulate people. According to him, as managers we can change the attitudes of our people, but we must also be careful about the methods we use to influence our staff.
Brown educates that good influences will add to the self-esteem of those on our staff and will make them more productive; while bad ones will cause the staff to feel manipulated, and production will be negatively affected.
He also looks at the sub-concepts of taking attitude into account; knowing your people; making management work; approaches to increased productivity; corporate philosophy, etc.
As regards stylistic diagnosis, Brown’s efforts deserve commendation. The language is simple and embroidered with good word-ordering which enhances comprehension. Brown is also very creative in the way he handles his concepts, making everything interesting.
He uses graphical embroidery to achieve visual reinforcement of understanding. The author includes “Fortune Action Contract”, an exercise section, at the end of every chapter to arouse readers’ active participation.
In the words of Dennis Waitley, author of “Seeds of Greatness”, “In the flood of ‘success’ books, this is a stand-out in style … and applications…Brown gives us a needed dose of preventive management medicine.”
However, fatal errors two and ten should have been merged because the concepts are similar.
Do you want to become a great manager by avoiding fatal errors managers make? If your answer is “Yes”, then this book is highly recommended to you.
GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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