Feb 11, 2012 10:54 PM EST

The 60-Second Business Bookshelf: "Being the Boss"

The book: "Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader"
Authors: Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback
Harvard Business Review Press, 2011
304 pages, $25.95

The book's subtitle refers to three imperatives for becoming a great leader and all are essential: Manage yourself, manage your network, and manage your team. The material is organized in three parts, each devoted to one of the imperatives. Note the sequence. Linda Hill and Kent Lineback are quite correct when suggesting that those who cannot manage themselves effectively cannot manage anyone else effectively.

It should also be noted that they are world-class pragmatists. The material they provide is based on a wide and deep body of research on managers' real-world behavior, and they skillfully invoke the "journey" metaphor when examining two processes: self-discovery and becoming a great leader. In fact, there is also a third process: helping others to become a great leader.

Hill and Lineback make skillful use of several reader-friendly devices, such as checklists of key points, that are inserted and then discussed throughout the narrative. These include the eight "inherent paradoxes" of management, the most common misconceptions about management, and why being a boss and a friend can be incompatible.

The authors also provide a summary at the end of all three parts that serves as a self-assessment for where the reader is at that point in their journey to becoming a great manager. The questions posed in the summaries challenge "the boss" to make progress in self-discovery and in leadership development -- getting the reader actively involved in those two projects.

Hill and Linebeck fully understand -- and appreciate -- how difficult it is to embark and then remain on the journey they propose. But if you become a great leader, then you (like a gardener) can "grow" more, they say. That is perhaps the single greatest obligation -- and satisfaction -- of "being the boss."

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