BOOKCASE History Without Colour

City of Enterprise: Perspectives on Auckland business history
Edited by: Ian Hunter & Diana Morrow
Publisher: Auckland University Press
Price: $49.99

City of Enterprise is part of the University of Auckland Business History Project which has the laudable aim of “reinvigorating and fostering the research, teaching and dissemination of business history in New Zealand”.
However, by being as dull as it is worthy, City of Enterprise is not likely to whet the appetite of general readers for more business world books.
Business history is, as the better business magazines know, about people; people working in partnership and in competition; people with inspirational ideals; and people doing dirty deals. New Zealand history, business and otherwise, is as colourful, quirky and rumbustious as anywhere else – as James Belich and Graeme Hunt have shown – but the people in this book are ciphers rather than flesh and blood and the telling all the more dry and dusty because of it.
City of Enterprise is, sadly, rather plodding parade of facts and figures about the growth of the Auckland business sector and the way it has changed over the decades. There is not lot of analysis or insight and the reader has the impression that any colour in original drafts has been carefully edited out. Different writers have contributed chapters on early Maori business enterprise (one of the most interesting essays); shipping; the gas and timber industries; stock and station agents; retailing; the clothing, footwear and textile industries; and accountancy partnerships. Particular attention is paid to the activities of the Auckland Gas Company, Farmers Trading Company and Ross and Glendining.
The newspaper industry, which I know little about, is certainly colourful and strong personalities dominate its history. Although readers of this chapter will find all the necessary information there is little of the industry’s flavour or acknowledgement of its key role in recording and reflecting social change.
Nevertheless, while it is not an absorbing ‘read’, City of Enterprise contains valuable and wide-ranging assembly of data about Auckland industry and business from the earliest days of European settlement to the present day. It is well-presented, with excellent reference notes, bibliography and index, but it is extraordinary that book from leading university press should provide only the barest – if any at all – information about the credentials of its contributors. IFG

Measure of Leader
By: Aubrey C Daniels & James E Daniels
Publisher: Performance Management Publications
Price: $50

The antithesis of all those “quick-read” management self-help volumes, this is serious and illuminating examination of how to optimise performance throughout organisations. This latest book by Dr Aubrey Daniels – the world’s leading authority on behavioural science in the workplace – is co-authored by his brother James. Together they point out that while people have been writing about leadership for hundreds of years, the failure rate amongst leaders continues unabated.
The authors make distinct definition of leadership and suggest practical way to measure leader, or for leader to measure his or her performance. The book suggests that there are two behaviours in business that count: the behaviour of leaders and that of followers. Leaders are usually measured on share prices or their profits but since these are lagging measures which are difficult to correlate with actions or behaviours that may have occurred year ago, results often do not define effective leadership.
The most effective leaders create certain kind of follower, one who is characterised by discretionary effort. How able is the leader to get people to go above and beyond what is required?
This is simple and sensible way to measure the effectiveness of leader rather than obsessing over so-called leadership qualities like personality, profits and charisma. It is bold new way to measure and pursue leadership and to refocus attention where power truly resides – with followers. The authors argue that unless leaders understand the behaviours of both leaders and followers they are unlikely to prove effective.
While heavily biased towards discussion of the science of leadership, Measure of Leader is careful to demonstrate how behaviours affect real workplace situations and how individuals can increase their leadership effectiveness.
This is highly recommended read for anyone with leadership aspirations or desire to grow leaders. SE

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