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Business Books: Managing Yourself | BBS library | Bizsum

HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself

On Managing YourselfGreat managers are those who first effectively manage themselves. Self-awareness, introspection, and thoughtful planning and action in all aspects of life are what enable a manager to effectively lead others. HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself invites managers to take a “critical look in the mirror” in their quests for professional success and personal fulfillment. Only then can managers take deliberate steps to manage their lives to maximize their talents, make contributions in everything they do, and become inspirational leaders and better human beings.

boylamThe ultimate goal in managing oneself is to make a valuable contribution to the world while creating a life of purpose and fulfillment. Managers who manage themselves first:

  1. Deliberately choose a life path: A purposeful life is created first through introspection and next by using basic business model fundamentals.
  2. Know themselves well: Success comes from knowing one’s strengths, personal styles, and values and then applying them where they can make the greatest contribution.
  3. Know when to say “yes” and when to say “no:” Managers’ time is often unnecessarily taken up by responsibilities that belong to their subordinates. By knowing how to redirect requests for help back to subordinates, managers can greatly increase their discretionary time.
  4. Develop resilience: Resilience is increasingly a core competency in the corporate world. Resilient people accept the realities of life, are driven by meaningfulness, and are great at improvising.
  5. Manage their energy: Having consistent energy, rather than more time, is the key to effectiveness.
  6. Practice Total Leadership: People are at their best and feel most fulfilled when they are performing well in all aspects of their lives: work, home, community, and self.
  7. “Own” their jobs: Owning one’s job comes through effectively managing demands, generating resources, and recognizing and exploiting alternatives.
  8. Know how to tap the “fundamental state of leadership:” The “fundamental state of leadership” is a psychological condition in which managers are at their best–drawing on their own capabilities and values to lead in a compelling way.
  9. Continually self-assess: Even the best managers make mistakes and lose sight of their paths. Self-assessment and changes in behavior can put an off-track manager back on track.
  10. Possess emotional intelligence: Managers who understand and leverage the emotional component in the workplace model the behavior they want to see and treat people as whole beings


Becoming the Boss

InBecoming the Boss Becoming the Boss, Lindsey Pollak provides insight on leadership styles, communicating, and resolving people issues for those who aspire to become business leaders, especially individuals in the millennial generation. The book covers preparation, personal branding, essential leadership qualities, prioritizing, delegating, and career growth. It also discusses the value of having mentors and mentoring others.

According to Pollak:

  • Before leading others, leaders must learn to lead themselves. They can build the right mind-sets and attitudes by reading, networking, training, and practicing leadership in their everyday lives. They must then craft their own personal leadership brands that incorporate four essential elements: visibility, differentiation, consistency, and authenticity.
  • By attending to their online personas, leaders can work to eliminate negative information and build positive virtual brands. Social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be useful places to post professional biographies and links.
    The best leaders are good listeners. Listening helps leaders learn about their employees, communicate their expectations, and show others that they value outside input.
  • Leaders must communicate using the most effective and appropriate methods available. Conveying very sensitive information in person is usually the best choice. Emailing is appropriate for nearly all communications, but phone calls work best for urgent matters. Texting and instant messaging are quick and effective communication methods, but they should be reserved for casual interactions.
  • Leaders must delegate and prioritize tasks in order of their importance. They should give their full attention to each task rather than multitasking, and assign any work that does not require their personal attention to their employees.
  • Mentors help leaders achieve their career goals. There are five types of mentors: traditional, co-mentors, sponsors, peers, and parents.
  • Professional growth never ends. Leaders who decide to be great, stay humble, make committed decisions, and make their own rules are the most likely to reach their goals.


87496889In StandOut, Marcus Buckingham asserts that everyone has their own particular genius that is innate to their being. Buckingham explains that by understanding their strengths and learning how to apply them, anyone can be consistently outstanding in the workplace. Sounding the all-too-familiar cry for innovation as the only way for the United States to thrive and compete, he offers readers an online assessment tool that will identify their top two strengths and provide an analysis of those strengths. He also offers practical innovations, tips, and techniques for using each strength to help people find an edge and win at work.

According to Buckingham:

  • Everyone has their own brand of genius. People may not always be aware of their true strengths, but becoming aware of them can open the door to great personal power.
  • Of the thousands of personal talents that exist, the StandOut assessment distills them into nine main categories: Advisor, Connector, Creator, Equalizer, Influencer, Pioneer, Provider, Stimulator, and Teacher.Individuals top two categories combined can be used to identify their unique strengths and to predict and improve performance.
  • Innovative practices that work in one setting will not always work in another setting unless the person implementing the practices has the same strengths as the one who created the practice.
  • Genius is very precise. When people operate in their “strength zones,” they can learn, understand, and act faster and better than most people. However, once they shift out of their genius zones, performance declines quickly.
  • People should consciously apply their particular genius to everyday situations. By doing this, they can operate at peak levels and avoid accepting new roles that are too far outside their comfort zones.

What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do

Today’s fast-paced and high-pressured business environment often requires workers to spend 60, 70, 80, or more hours per week on the job. Unfortunately, productivity tends to decrease as work hours increase, and in this type of business climate, traditional time management techniques may be meaningless and outdated. In What To Do When There’s Too Much To Do, Laura Stack offers a system that allows workers to accomplish more by doing less work. Following her step-by-step Productivity Workflow Formula allows workers to organize their work lives around the tasks that really matter and disregard those that do not. The dozens of strategies that Stack provides help to reduce commitments, distractions, interruptions, and inefficiencies.

Stack’s Productivity Workflow Formula is designed to help streamline time management, reduce tasks, and increase results. There are six primary steps:

  1. Determine what to do: Triage to-do lists and decide to do only what matters most.
  2. Schedule time to do it: Assign time slots and duration for all tasks.
  3. Focus attention: Avoid multitasking.
  4. Process new information: Research, file information, and handle incoming information.
  5. Close the loop: Reduce inefficiencies.
  6. Manage capacity: Focus on physical factors affecting energy.

Time Management

Time ManagementTime is a precious asset that cannot be reclaimed. Once it is used, it is gone forever. These days, many people find themselves stressed and feeling out of control from never having enough time to do what they should and want to do. Author Brian Tracy claims it is not a lack of time but rather the mismanagement of time that causes these issues. In Time Management, Tracy provides insights about the consequences of mismanaging time as well as practical techniques that anyone can learn and master in order to gain control over their time and achieve both professional and personal success.

Successful time management is based on the following principles:

  1. Time is a precious asset. Time is an asset that cannot be replaced. Once used, it is gone forever. Therefore, making the most of time becomes increasingly important.
  2. Time management is all about confidence and control. Individuals who have high self-esteem have the confidence to set parameters on how their time is used. Those who feel out of control and as if they never have enough time are letting others determine their fate and will benefit from using techniques to develop a more positive self-image and a decisive attitude.
  3. Effectively managing time depends on having a clear vision, values, and goals. If people do not know where they are going and why, they are wasting their time. A strong sense of individual purpose that aligns with daily activities drives time management practices that lead to achieving goals.
  4. Good time management is plan-based. Effective time management does not just happen. It requires thoughtful planning and a series of written activities–such as checklists, project plans, and prioritization systems–that can be repeatedly referenced and adjusted as circumstances change.
  5. The most important work should be allotted the largest amount of time. Much of people’s time is wasted on the easy-to-do and less important tasks. Often this means never devoting enough time to the really important activities–those that lead to professional success and personal fulfillment. People should always do the important work first. They should give these tasks the most attention.
  6. Focus and clarity are paramount. Multi-tasking, distractions, and interruptions are all big time wasters. To be effective, individuals must focus on one task at a time and take control over factors that interrupt focus or distract from clear thinking.
  7. Anyone can learn to more effectively manage their time. People can learn time management skills. They should practice these skills repeatedly. Developing good habits control how people spend their time.


13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t DoIn 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, author and therapist Amy Morin presents the 13 most important things that people who are emotionally on top of their games do not do. No one does everything right all the time, but by acknowledging all 13 of these behaviors, actions, and feelings, people can make significant progress in their lives. Mentally strong people have better chances of success, develop better relationships, and are generally happier and healthier.

Mentally strong people do not:

  1. Waste time feeling sorry for themselves. This is a self-destructive behavior that leads to more negative emotions.
  2. Give away their power. People can still be kind while demanding that others respect them.
  3. Shy away from change. Change can be scary and uncomfortable, but it is necessary for growth.
  4. Focus on things they cannot control. Trying to manage what is out of one’s control just leads to increased anxiety and stress.
  5. Worry about pleasing everyone. Conflict and confrontation are often uncomfortable, but constantly avoiding it makes it impossible for people to reach their goals.
  6. Fear taking calculated risks. Sometimes people’s fears and anxieties do not actually match the risks they are taking.
  7. Dwell on the past. Self-reflection can be healthy, but dwelling can be self-destructive.
  8. Make the same mistakes over and over. Repeating the same mistakes does not change anything.
  9. Resent other people’s success. Resenting someone else’s success can cause a person to behave illogically.
  10. Give up after one failure. Some of the most accomplished people in the world failed dozens of times before achieving success.
  11. Fear alone time. Creating time to be alone with one’s thoughts is a powerful experience.
  12. Feel the world owes them anything. A sense of entitlement does nothing but anger others.
  13. Expect immediate results. Change takes time.

The Like Switch

The Like SwitchIn The Like Switch, former FBI Special Agent Jack Schafer and author Marvin Karlins offer proven techniques for reading people, developing mutually beneficial friendships, and influencing how people are perceived by others. Spanning both verbal and nonverbal communication cues, the authors educate readers on how to improve their likeability through body language and word choice.


Schafer and Karlins assert that:

  • There are four main building blocks of friendship that form the basis of the Friendship Formula. This formula states that Friendship = Proximity + Frequency + Duration + Intensity.
  • Friendly people are like fireflies: They capture people’s attention, even from far away. People see others before they hear them speak, so nonverbal signals are crucial in getting others’ attention and forming first impressions.
  • First meetings should adhere to the Golden Rule of Friendship in order to set the right tone for future encounters. This rule states, “If you want people to like you, make them feel good about themselves.”
  • The Laws of Attraction govern the likelihood that two people will be drawn together. Using these laws can help enhance relationships, but some of the laws are not designed to work with certain personality types.
  • Speaking the language of friendship can ensure that friendships are stronger and last longer. The key to speaking this language is encouraging others to speak, listening carefully to what they say, displaying empathy, and responding positively to their comments.
  • Relationships face many kinds of peril in the digital world; however, digital relationships also have some distinct advantages, including ease of finding common ground and the ability to research others to learn about their interests.


The 5 Choices

The 5 ChoicesAs the demands of work and home life continue to escalate, people are feeling more overextended, overwhelmed, and overstressed than ever before. However, at the same time, people want to be more meaningfully productive and live personally fulfilling lives. In The 5 Choices, Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill, and Leena Rinne explain how extraordinary productivity and personal fulfillment is attainable for everyone—it just requires making the right choices when it comes to managing decisions, attention, and energy. The authors present a matrixed and logical process for choosing, on an ongoing basis, how and where to best spend one’s time and attention in order to create a productive and fulfilled life.

According to the authors:

  • Anyone can do extraordinary work. Every person has unique gifts, skills, and talents he or she brings to the table. By making the right decisions about which activities to focus attention on and ensuring energy is expended and replenished appropriately, those gifts, skills, and talents can be maximized for extraordinary results.
  • Being extraordinarily productive is both easier and harder than ever before. In the high-tech information age, individuals have more opportunities than ever to make significant contributions in their work lives. However, the information age also brings with it a constant barrage of demands that can distract them from getting the most important work done.
  • Do more by doing less. Being busy is often confused with being productive. By focusing efforts on the truly important things, individuals can do less overall while ultimately achieving more.
  • People can change their brains. The brain is capable of both reactive (automatic) decision making and proactive(thought-based) decision making. By becoming more conscious and less automatic in decision making, people can change their brains to be more thoughtful on an ongoing basis, which leads to better choices in the long term.
  • Do not just think–do! Thinking about making life changes is well and good, but without a developed plan for executing these changes, they are nothing more than wishful thinking. Extraordinary productivity requires a plan, a schedule, and follow-through.
  • Technology is both a blessing and a curse. Technology has the capability to make life much easier by streamlining processes, enhancing communication, and creating new opportunities. However, it can also be distracting, intrusive, and a time waster if not used properly. The goal is to rule technology rather than be ruled by it.
  • Manage energy, not time. There are myriad time management systems to help people make better use of their time. The problem is that time is finite. It makes better sense to manage energy by continually using it and replenishing it to get the right things done in the time available.
  • Extraordinary productivity is a choice. People must choose between operating on “autopilot” and giving in to the lure of time-wasting activities or consciously taking charge of decisions regarding how to spend their time.

Coach Yourself to Win

Coach Yourself to WinPeople have the ability to change many of the behaviors that hinder their success at work and in their personal lives. But self-improvement takes self-scrutiny, honesty, and effort. Additionally, it requires a knowledgeable, objective guide and a circle of supporters. In Coach Yourself to Win, leadership development expert Howard M. Guttman explains the most effective self-coaching techniques and how to find the most promising helpers. Importantly, he also offers proven strategies that will help readers rebound from setbacks and adjust their goals in order to maintain a lifetime commitment to positive, observable change.

According to Guttman:

  • Successful self-coaching begins with the firm belief that a positive outcome is achievable and worth a significant effort. This belief is rooted in an awareness of one’s current, observable behavior; the ability, readiness, and willingness to change; and the commitment to making the change permanent.
  • Setting intention is the first step toward bringing about a desired behavior change. Intentions provide focus, galvanize energy, and prompt individuals to take action.
  • No one should undertake self-coaching alone. Self-coachers need guides, or mentors, to help them stay on track, as well as circles of supporters to provide additional help, advice, and feedback.
  • Feedback, a vital part of the self-coaching process, is verbal or nonverbal communication that provides information about how the recipient’s behavior affects others. Framing questions appropriately and asking them during personal interviews will help ensure that the feedback is useful and facilitates a constructive response.
  • Self-coachers must be able to analyze feedback objectively and rationally. Receiving negative feedback can be hurtful and difficult, but good self-coachers learn to respond in positive ways without defensiveness.
  • The proof of a strong intention is a workable plan. In addition to being focused on intentions, good plans are realistic and simple. They build in contingencies, set time lines, and cover all the bases involved in implementation.
  • Barriers to the successful achievement of intention can occur at any time in the self-coaching process. The best way for people to deal with unexpected obstacles is to continually reassess their progress and, if necessary, rethink their original plans and intentions.

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Related book summaries in the BBS library:

The Time Trap10 Steps to Successful Time ManagementThe Personal Efficiency Program

Strengths Finder 2.0, Go Put Your Strengths to Work, Work Your Strengths

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