Bookcase: Books for the Boat or Beach

A Spy’s Life
By: Henry Porter
Publisher: Orion
Price: $22.95

The end of the cold war threatened to assassinate the best of this genre. This is one of the quick and easy, but not quite as complex as I’d like, offerings of an author who is making an impact and emerging as thriller writer with feel for market. Porter wrote Remembrance Day if you need point of reference.

This book is strictly to unwind by – to get you in the mood for transition from managing to meandering. It introduces all the new technology elements of modern espionage and the commercial opportunism that the collapse of communism presents in eastern Europe, the UK and the US.

The story holds together but is light on sex and heavy on intrigue. Some nasty characters on all sides of the fence. RB

Giuliani – Leadership
By: Rudolph Giuliani with Ken Kurson
Publisher: Little,Brown
Price: $49.95

Events maketh the leader. I wouldn’t want to draw too much of parallel, but it took the horrifying events of World War 11 to deliver Winston Churchill to special place in leadership history. Now it seems September 11, 2001 has delivered New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani to an elevated level of global recognition.

With the help of financial journalist Ken Kurson, he has written leadership-cum-biographical text that is easy to pick up and put down without losing the essentially simple rules by which he plays his leadership game.

Set aside the marital mess that dominated many days of his reign as mayor, how’s this for paragraph to sum up the man and his leadership style: “One small risk of this strategy is that you’ll lose some praise for the positive result. Usually, however, there’s plenty of time to take the credit once you know programme actually works.” Given that Giuliani is politician his priorities are understandable. But it’s not quite what should rank high on the effective executive’s list of leadership strategies. That said, it’s book worth reading. RB

Greenspan: The Man Behind Money
By: Justin Martin
Publisher: Perseus Publishing
Price: $54.95

The preface of this book sums it up: “[Alan] Greenspan has attained remarkable level of power and mystique. The world hangs on his every word.”

President George W Bush’s attempts to recapture the essence of that second sentence for himself notwithstanding, the story of this former professional jazz musician turned money manager supremo makes intriguing reading.

This is delightful book, nicely written to effortlessly deliver an illuminating account of Greenspan’s world of money – from Ayn Rand insider, to head of the Federal Reserve. word of warning, the illustrations are dreadful because they are reproduced on run-of-book paper stock rather than on art – curious cutting of costs in book that deals with dollars galore.

Greenspan is, despite his high profile, curiosity. His job, to some, is equally so. This book doesn’t explain the inner workings of the Fed Reserve but it does good job of putting the politics and priorities of central banking into both an historical and contemporary context. Great holiday reading about man and commodity that dominate the workings of our everyday world. RB

Primal Leadership
By: Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee
Publisher: Harvard Business
School Press
Price: $80

Daniel Goleman invented EI with his bestseller title that explains the acronym, Emotional Intelligence. Since then IQ has battled to regain its premier status as the concept that best explains “being smart”.

Now Goleman and his team of researchers explore the role of EI in leadership. Leaders emotions are, they say, contagious. So while you are thinking about how to revive your organisation’s fortunes next year, consider this: “If leader resonates energy and enthusiasm, an organisation thrives: if leader spreads negativity and dissonance it flounders.”

Primal Leadership: realising the power of emotional intelligence explains how to use the results of some pretty extensive research. True, this is management text and you are supposed to be on holiday, but there is everyday stuff in here that needs some quiet thinking about. RB

The Rumsfeld Way: Leadership Wisdom of Battle-Hardened Maverick
By: Jeffrey Krames
Publisher: McGraw-Hill, 2002
Price: $39.95

We need ‘big’ people to lead governments and companies in our uncertain world; instead politics and business seem to have delivered, nationally and internationally, several generations of pygmies.

The consequent desperate search for leaders has led to flourishing publishing niche and an attempt to thrust greatness, deserved or otherwise, on anyone who makes the requisite media splash.

Donald Rumsfeld apparently rates study of his leadership style because he has been unexpectedly successful ‘fronting’ Bush’s ‘war on terrorism’.

In Krames’ breathless, hastily written text Rumsfeld “represents dramatically new model for leadership”. This appears to be because as its CEO he turned around pharmaceutical company GD Searle & Co, which was ailing before he wrote Rumsfeld’s Rules, collection of management homilies, and because of his blunt straight-talking, sometimes leavened with humour.

Krames’ text suggests Rumsfeld is short on theory and long on strategy of the black and white variety. It is clear from reading The Rumsfeld Way that he wants to attack Iraq; it is less clear whether he or his president have strategy beyond deposing Saddam. IFG

The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell
By: Oren Harari
Publisher: McGraw Hill
Price: $42.95

And here’s another from the American leadership niche. Powell is slightly more sympathetic character on the world’s stage, but make no mistake, these leaders play for keeps and very high stakes.

Harari’s interpretation of how the general leads is classic leadership text, albeit short on the description of the personal background and environment which no doubt shaped the man. It is difficult to know how much of what Powell says publicly and delivers in his instructional memos is the real personality, but the author suggests he is what he espouses.

The way Powell conducts himself seems to be straight out of PR manual – the result of which is publicity rating as “… the most respected figure in American public life”. Few chinks show in Powell’s personal armour, and that always worries sceptics like me, but his 18 lessons on leadership, including “being responsible sometimes means pissing people off”, show certain reality. RB

Peter Drucker: Shaping the Managerial Mind
By: John E Flaherty
Publisher: Jossey Bass
Price: 49.95

Peter Drucker has been variously labelled but it is as the “father of modern management” that he is perhaps most accurately portrayed. John Flaherty has tried, and succeeded in chronicling the guru’s management concepts and ideas.

Even Drucker acknowledges that the author has made “systematic thinking out of me. I have learned great deal about my work from this book.” And that is pretty much how it is.

It is an entertaining text for the student of management technique, thinking and process. RB

Frank Lowy: Pushing the Limits
By: Jill Margo
Publisher: HarperCollins, 2001
Price: $34.95

Westfield is an Australian shopping centre organisation. For those who savour statistics, it has A$31.7 billion of assets under management; 109 shopping centres in four countries; more than eight million square metres of retail space; and 16,600 retailers. Twelve of those centres, with 1200 retailers and retail sales of A$1.2 billion, are in New Zealand.

As it unfolds, in journalist Jill Margo’s well-crafted biography, Frank Lowy: Pushing the Limits is classic ‘rags to riches’ business story, Hollywood movie waiting to be filmed with location shoots in Budapest, Haifa and Sydney.

Frank Lowy, co-founder of the Westfield empire, was born in 1930 in southern Czechoslovakia, into Jewish family of Hungarian and Slovakian origin

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