Leadership Sopranos Style: How to Become a More Effective Boss

Overview

Conflicting loyalties. Terminations. A changing culture. New competitive threats. These phrases describe the challenges facing many of today's most successful businesses. They also describe the challenges facing another profitable organization-television's Soprano family.

As the boss of the family, Tony Soprano knows the difficulties of being an effective leader in an environment of change, complexity, and crisis. He has experienced the struggle to find and keep talent. And as ...

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Overview

Conflicting loyalties. Terminations. A changing culture. New competitive threats. These phrases describe the challenges facing many of today's most successful businesses. They also describe the challenges facing another profitable organization-television's Soprano family.

As the boss of the family, Tony Soprano knows the difficulties of being an effective leader in an environment of change, complexity, and crisis. He has experienced the struggle to find and keep talent. And as for loyalty fuhgetaboutit! When it comes to business, you need more than loyalty if you're gonna avoid swimming with the fishes. Today's environment can leave even the most efficient boss feeling powerless, unable to make decisions or implement them. Tony Soprano knows that if you wanna get things done, you can't continue to lead as you have in the past.

Author Debbie Himsel has been exposed to virtually every leadership theory and development methodology. In &ILeadership Soprano Style, she makes a clear case that Tony Soprano is the Jack Welch of his particular industry-that his management style brilliantly illuminates a NEW set of leadership principles, and that underbosses around the world can learn a great deal from Tony, flaws and all. Himsel shares these principles with readers, using Tony as a catalyst for understanding the leadership tools and techniques that are necessary to whack the competition and win in business. Chapter highlights include:

* Who's the Boss: A Simple, Clear Structure.

* The Strategic Goal Is to Make Money.

* The War for Talent.

* Understanding Your Deeper Need to Kill the Competition.

* Sit-Downs and Other Conflict Management Tools.

*Coaching the Poobahs and the Goombahs.

* Give It to My Face: Receiving Feedback.

* Charisma: More Than a Flashy Tie and a Cheap Cigar.

* If Your Organization Were Part of the Mob.

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Editorial Reviews

Link and Learn
Leadership Soprano's Style provides terrific analysis and suggestions. [Himsel's] expertise provides real-world ideas that can be easily implemented.
February 2004
Publishers Weekly
In an era when good leadership is scarce, the unenlightened should look not to their politicians, teachers, clergy or family members, but to the one and only Tony Soprano, the infamous New Jersey-based Mafioso of the television series that shares his name. Or so says Himsel, a corporate executive specializing in teaching and studying corporate management, who here paints a picture of a leader who, while not particularly law-abiding or conventional, knows how to get the job done. When it comes to the illegal, distasteful line of work Tony is in, Himsel asks readers to look the other way and suspend disbelief in the name of learning effective management techniques: Tony Soprano's illegal deals become diversifying revenue streams in Himsel's hand; stock schemes, housing scams and kickbacks can be seen as ongoing lines of business; and instead of whacking someone, Himsel suggests eliminating the competition. Those who are intrigued by these suggestions will be treated to a well-researched and documented management how-to that does have something new to offer Tony fans and nonfans alike (be sure to check out the Soprano Family Business Plan) and that could, as well, teach MBAs "a thing or two about leadership." While using the typical management buzzwords-networking, strategizing, delegating, executing-that generally lead to the eyes glazing over, Himsel manages to inject some newness into the business-as-usual theorizing that tends to characterize the many tell-don't-show works already out there. (Dec.) FYI: On the topic of business Soprano style, Berkley will publish in February Tony Soprano on Management: Leadership Lessons Inspired by America's Favorite Mobster by Anthony Schneider ( $14 paper ISBN 0-425-19494-9). Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Understanding effective leadership is an increasingly popular topic in management literature, perhaps owing to its frequent absence in organizations. Recent books have bypassed the corporate world in search of archetypal leaders from whom valuable lessons may be learned. Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, and Alexander the Great-not to mention Adolf Hitler-have all undergone the leadership probe. In an interesting twist of popular culture, Avon executive Himsel has turned her sights on a new breed of leader, HBO's fictional crime lord extraordinaire, Tony Soprano. Those unversed in the series may find the examples hard to follow. Others may justifiably find the whole concept distasteful. But the author successfully analyzes Tony's management style to show how it can be effective in today's competitive environment. For example, Tony's "You talking to me?" attitude translates to a communication style marked by "directness, empathy, clarity, and adaptability." The author shares personal triumphs in her management role at Avon that are drawn straight from the set of The Sopranos. Given the popularity of both the series and the theme, this book will do well in public library business collections.-Carol J. Elsen, Univ. of Wisconsin Lib., Whitewater Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Lessons From a Fictional North Jersey Mob Boss
As a successful leadership-development executive at Avon, Deborrah Himsel understands what it takes to become an effective business leader. Using the central character from the HBO series The Sopranos as a reference point and example of a leader who embraces the right leadership qualities, she describes a variety of business scenarios where Tony Soprano's wisdom and skills can pay off. By demonstrating how his style and techniques worked for him within the complex hierarchy of a North Jersey organized crime family, she applies those lessons to modern business and explains how they can help real business leaders compete.

Himsel explains how embracing many of the qualities that Tony Soprano embodies have helped her apply the leadership learning she has received throughout her professional career. She describes how blunt, Soprano-style forthrightness has helped her deal with her subordinates as well as consultants. Using 360-degree feedback, seeking self-awareness, and coaching underlings are relevant leadership skills Tony demonstrates season after season. Himsel has distilled these skills and methods into a leadership plan that is both full of valuable lessons and easy to grasp. She explains that many of the leaders she has trained easily relate to Tony Soprano's combination of power and vulnerability, the ways his personal and professional lives overlap, and how he struggles with choices when there is no right answer.

Decision-Making Techniques
Himsel recognizes the fact that a fictional mob boss is not exactly the perfect role model for business leaders, considering that many of his methods for achieving his family's goals are illegal and inappropriate in a corporate setting. In Leadership Sopranos Style, she explains that she is simply translating Tony's methods into inspirational examples of organizational leadership that can help leaders understand several viable decision-making techniques that can be used by anyone, anywhere.

Leadership Sopranos Style covers numerous business topics, including strategy, structure, decision making, leader charisma, receiving feedback, and conflict resolution. Although Tony Soprano's scams and schemes are often criminal in nature, Himsel cuts through the drama and presents the methods and moxie behind his actions that can inspire executives to improve the ways they recruit and retain top talent, make promotion decisions, take advantage of global marketplace opportunities, and cope with financial crises. By identifying and analyzing Tony's weaknesses, vulnerabilities and mistakes, Himsel turns a provocative yet accessible fictional character into a strong example of a leader who can teach real executives many things about their own jobs.

Himsel uses specific scenarios from The Sopranos to describe how "Tony-like" techniques can help leaders improve their strategic thinking. These leadership techniques include:

  • Keep a money mind-set. Every great strategy must turn a profit. Tony stays focused on how to maximize the spending capacity of his customer base.
  • Tap into the most compelling customer need. Tony takes the time to meet and talk with his customers as well as to talk to his people about their interactions with customers.
  • Subtly emphasize new business over old. Himsel explains that Tony's approach of taking numerous small but acceptable risks to create successful new ventures fits the market realities in the early 21st century.


Effective Communication
Throughout Leadership Sopranos Style, Himsel describes the elements of a successful leadership plan that combines the benefits of charisma; maintaining a simple, clear and adaptive leadership structure; coaching and influencing; receiving and listening to feedback; developing an effective communication style; making tough choices; and developing self-awareness as well as emotional intelligence. By grounding her lessons in the colorful underworld of Tony Soprano's criminal activities, her points hit home thanks to the power of the compelling plot lines and highly developed characters of the show.

To help leaders capture her insights, Himsel presents checklists, questions and tools they can use to measure their progress and learn more about improving their leadership styles to become more effective.

Why We Like This Book
Leadership Sopranos Style offers leaders a familiar backdrop on which they can observe leadership behavior at its best and worst. With insight, style and wit, Himsel presents memorable leadership lessons that are timely and inspirational. By using such a well-developed (and well-written) character to epitomize the lessons she imparts, she is able to capture the depth and intensity of the tasks leaders must master to become more effective in their pivotal roles. Copyright © 2004 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780793181506
  • Publisher: Kaplan Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/1/2003
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii
Introduction xv
1. The Strategic Goal is to Make Shitloads of Money 1
2. Charisma: More Than a Flashy Tie and a Cheap Cigar 21
3. Who's the Boss: A Simple, Clear, and Adaptive Structure 41
4. Coaching the Poobahs and the Goumbas 67
5. Give It to My Face: Receiving Feedback 87
6. You Talking to Me? 105
7. Ten Tough Choices: What We Can Learn from Tony's Most Challenging Decisions 125
8. Understanding Your Deeper Need to Kill the Competition 147
9. Analyzing Tony: Taking the Best and Leaving the Rest 167
Notes 185
Index 187
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2004

    generic

    Nothing original here -- same old executive advice that's been handed out seen Dale Canegie. And considering how psycho Tony has been this season, it doesn't really apply.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2004

    Spunky, Informative, and FUN!!!

    As a Professor of Management, I'm always looking for a new 'spin'. This is it! Himsel takes a controversial character and pulls down-to-earth, realistic, ways to better manage people, projects--businesses from his actions. She provides quizes, helps us take a hard look at our own actions, and brings a wealth of personal knowledge to some of the issues with which we continue to wrestle. Plus it is FUN!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2004

    Leadership Sopranos Style: How to Become a More Effective Boss

    This is without a doublt the best management book I've read in 20+ years! It offers real advice for busy executives! One of my managers sat me down and had me read the chapter on sitdowns. That sold me! Ms. Himsel has used a wise-mouthed mobster to illustrate innovative techniques in leadership for those of us REALLY in business. A must read---and use--book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2004

    Don't Fugghetabout this book...

    Ms. Himsel has finally written a business book that can be ENJOYED! She has taken a rather boring subject(business)and wrapped it around with an exciting premise. This book is a MUST for anyone who is working today. Who doesn't want to become a better leader? Every leadership point is made very clear with great humor and wit. I especially liked the Charisma and Give it to my face chapters. After reading it I felt I am ready to lead my own business crew! Take my advice and get this book before everyone hears about it. Soon this book will be harder to find than Jimmy Hoffa! Thank you Ms. Himsel for writing a great book! P.S. Anyone who has READ this book will fully agree!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2004

    Outstanding, Realistic Guide to REAL Leadership!!

    As THE Leadership guru, Bernard Bass, noted--we can learn leadership from a range of mythical characters. This hard-hitting analysis of what real leaders can learn from the Soprano character is down to earth, while combining excellent scholarship. Ms. Himsel brings a wealth of examples on how those of us who want to improve our skills can benefit from the lessons of this series. It is chocked full of real applications for real people. A great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2004

    THANK YOU MS. HIMSEL

    16 February 2004 *****THANK YOU MS. HIMSEL You have cleverly captured the favorable leadership traits of Tony Soprano and successfully applied them with great skill and results in your organization.. After reading the 186 pages, without putting it down, I would recomend it to any one who wants to become a better leader. It's a fun book. MARGE FERRIN Mesa, Arizona

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2004

    Leadership Sopranos Style: How to Become a More Effective Boss

    There are so few books out there that help someone in my business, so I was astonished to see how applicable this book was to me. I learned how to really be straight with my employees and watch their admiration and productivity go up. Plus, it was entertaining--even though I don't get HBO to watch the show. A good learning tool!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2004

    How About Adolph Hitler on Public Speaking?

    Tony Soprano on leadership. What next? Adolph Hitler on effective public speaking? Joseph Stalin on efficient administration? Al Capone on how to win friends and influence people? Kenneth Fastow on finance? No one can seriously contend that this book makes any unique contribution to leadership guidance. It has one and only one distinction. It uses a vicious gangster character to entice readers. The separation of ethics from pragmatism is alive and well in American business and this book accepts the validity of that premise. The management of Enron obviously had the same concern for ethics in business as Tony Soprano. The only difference is that Tony is a fictional character that kills fictional people. Kenneth Lay was financially far more successful and destroyed real lives. We have seen such books before. The book ¿Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun¿ was moderately successful. Somehow buyers of that book hoped for guidance based on a man who succeeded through mass murder and rape. Most likely the writers of such books assert that the character choice is merely metaphor. The author of this book asks us to look the other way, to suspend our disbelief. She forgets to ask one more absolutely necessary concession. We must disregard our own ethical bearings as if effective management can operate in an ethical vacuum. Like all such metaphorical propositions we are asked to consider the lessons of the example without considering the example. Interestingly, recent examples of egregious corporate behavior are never used as metaphors. No publisher would accept a book proposal that exemplified Dennis Kozlowski as an effective boss. Yet we find plenty of exploitation based on fictional characters or real characters whose viciousness is blurred by the mists of time. Some reviewers praise this book as well researched. Unfortunately, the value of the research is cheapened by the ethical shortsightedness. Ultimately this book is just one more contribution to the concept that anything goes, a business approach that is a cancer in the American workplace.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2004

    Leadership Sopranos Style: How to Become a More Effective Boss

    I love this book! I bought it for a 'fun' read and soon found myself immersed in the lessons I could learn. Can a woman learn leadership from this character? YES! All those examples about asking for feedback, giving messages straight (with no qualifiers), having a strategic goal in mind throughout negotions, and structuring your organization for clarity make sense. What REALLY makes this book a treasure is that a woman leader wrote it! If Debbie Himsel can put these lessons into practice, so can I! Great read! Why didn't we ever have a text like this in business school?

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