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From The CriticsThis little book (5.5" X 8.5", 113 pages) is a conversation between the character telling the story ("Everymanager") andMax, an eccentric old sage-an experienced manager cum consultant. The storyteller, a bureaucratic manager who senses there's something missing in his life, calls on Max for some much-wanted advice on how to be a better boss.
As Max shares ideas, perspectives, philosophies, and techniques, solid insight rolls out from the pages. The wisdom is focused and valuable, illustrated and punctuated with stories about so-called gifted bosses, well-known and not. Examples come from cameo-like appearances from Peter Schutz (Porsche), Dan Schweiker (China Mist Tea), Dave Thomas (Wendy's), and many others.
The first part of text is peppered with comparisons between ordinary bosses and gifted bosses. For instance: ordinary bosses have answers; gifted bosses have questions (page 36). Interesting comparisons, but they don't last throughout the book. In our opinion, this is a missed opportunity. The message is sometimes subtle or opaque, but the reader gradually comes to understand the defining qualities of a gifted boss.
The message of the book is valuable, built around the six realities of gifted bosses and great employees. The principles are sound, but not tightly linked to the objective of finding, creating, and keeping great employees. The approach is more philosophical, looking at management style. And management style certainly influences workforce stability.
Unfortunately, the vital messages are obscured by the often-stilted conversation. The interactions between the "speaker" and Max seem uncomfortably contrived. The attempt at a conversational tone made the book a bit difficult to work with at times. I found myself hoping I would find a summary of the wisdom at the end of the book-a quick reference guide that would synopsize the gist of the gifted boss concept. No such luck. There is a list of the Realities of Gifted Bosses at the beginning of the book, but the rest of the wisdom is buried and not easy to retrieve.
Author Dale Dauten is a syndicated columnist whose work is read by over ten million people each week. His philosophies and insights are well-grounded, so there is plenty to gain from the book. The idea that being a better boss will serve workforce stability is not new, but the conversational approach does put an interesting twist on the topic. The awkwardness of parts of the book suggest this may not be the most effective way of communicating the message.
The novel sort of style does capture one's attention and draws the reader along in the fictional story, but it's not as well done as Eli Goldratt's The Goal and similar books. If you can treat the dialog with a certain amount of lightheartedness, allowing you to ignore the simplistic aspects of the "conversation," the book provides good value and advice.