BOOKCASE Trust, Truth & Tribulations

Trust Matters
By: Sally Bibb & Jeremy Kourdi
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Price: $59.95

It may seem axiomatic that trust is at the heart of anything worthy of being called positive relationship, but Sally Bibb and Jeremy Kourdi make good fist of explaining why. And given the sad spectacle of the receding global tide of this unique human emotion, it is timely.
What is disconcerting, at least to the likely readers of this magazine, is the parade of “great destroyers of trust” which, they argue forcefully and at some length, includes management. The book’s full title is Trust Matters: for organisational and personal success. The authors are an organisational development director with The Economist Group (Bibb) and business writer/consultant out of the same stable. Their writing style is as impeccable as their credentials.
But to return to the management point. Because most organisations still use the same framework of management hierarchy that existed just after the Industrial Revolution, the fundamental idea of management has not changed. The underlying belief that, to one degree or another and for one reason or another, people must be controlled to perform for the good of the organisation, essentially undermines the concept that people can be trusted.
In fact, say the authors, “underlying the notion of all types of management are the assumptions that people cannot be trusted to do the right thing; work hard; be committed to the job; be competent to do the job (or speak up if they can’t), and create necessary partnerships with others”. Trust and control are therefore “incompatible because freedom is necessary for trust to exist”. Ipso facto, the concept of ‘the manager’, by its very nature, “opposes the belief that you can trust people”.
Trust, argue Bibb and Kourdi, is human condition. It was important to primitive humans and underpins basic survival. At its extreme, misplaced trust can literally mean death. The authors then weave their case through chapters on building trust, the power of trust, the cost of trust lost, trust destroyers, how leaders build trust, trust in business, building customer trust, trust in times of change, building culture of trust, measuring trust and attitudes to it.
This is an intelligent, insightful, well-researched and reasoned book that is both interesting and helpful on personal, organisational and social levels. It is also sobering study of human condition seemingly under threat. The authors recall, for instance, French President Charles de Gaulle’s 1962 response to US Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s offer of full intelligence briefing on Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba. The briefing wasn’t necessary, de Gaulle said. He trusted John F Kennedy never to risk war unless he was sure of his facts. After the diplomatic debacle over Iraq, it is hard to imagine similar level of trust today.

The Truth About Managing People
By: Stephen P Robbins
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Price: $29.95

The book is, as this prolific academic and author points out, designed to dip in to, for “multiple quick reads”. Here are 63 one and two pocket-size-page topics on 10 everyday management issues.
This is one of the more useful desk-side reference books packed with insights that are diminished only by the fact that many of them are too American to be relevant here. Nevertheless, there are ideas that make it worth the read.
Robbins, on the ‘truth’ about hiring, motivation, leadership, communication, building teams, managing conflicts, designing jobs, performance evaluation, coping with change and managing behaviour, is entertaining and educating.
Despite its to-the-point brevity Robbins packs welter of understanding and research and smart interpretation into this clever little 200-page management handbook. It is full of fascinating facts and shrewd interpretations, without the turgid turns of phrase that sour so many academic texts. The Truth about Managing People is written for all those managers who complain they simply haven’t got the time to read something useful about the things they do every day. What’s more they can devour it in bite-size pieces.

Getting Grip on Leadership
By: Robyn Pearce & LaVonn Steiner
Publisher: Reed
Price: $29.99

A practical, exercise-driven book about understanding the fundamentals of leadership. This is for the novice. It is about, as the rest of title suggests, “how to learn leadership without making all the mistakes yourself”. primer.
Steiner (an American) and Pearce (a Kiwi) are professional speakers and trainers who, according to the promotional material, deliver seminars around the world. Their book is collection of work material and in simple, systematic, no-nonsense prose takes readers on journey of discovery, steps, lessons and exercises that provide basic understanding of the fundamentals of leadership.
First get to know yourself and what you are about. Then get feel for vision and strategy – where are you and your organisation going. Next get grip on your workplace, few tips on how to help build positive one. Finally, learn something about synergy, or how to work together.
It’s pretty basic fare but if you haven’t read leadership before you could do worse than start here.

Crunch Time
By: Mike Hanley & Adrian Monck
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Price: $29.95

Crunch Time, subtitled “how to live more ethical and meaningful life without giving up all your worldly goods, joining commune or losing your sense of humour”, is light entertainment that’s not really so light.
Two London Business School graduates who successfully, if not in desperation, turned to journalism, have turned in cracking good – if sometimes alarming, then humorous – argument about the state of the world. Money and work, the environment, science, democracy, world security, people, corporate power, globalisation… they’re all there. The “big issues”.
It’s cocktail of explanations and advice about how to interpret what is going on in the world and perhaps how to cope with it. It could leave you with hangover but then again, taking it on-board is fun at the time.
The authors argue and illustrate just how uniquely challenging is the world in which we now live. The aim of the book, they say, is to look in turn at the big issues of the decades to come. “Taken together and from distance, we can see they have common threads which give us an indication of where we are headed, the forces that are pushing us that way and, most importantly, why.”
Personally I think they make pretty good job of it.

High Wire Executive
By: Peter Stephenson
Publisher: Penguin
Price: $27.00

The age of the coach is upon us. Peter Stephenson is an Aussie coach. His coaching consultancy has been around for few years now and in this, his fourth book, he offers his seven executive efficiency and effectiveness techniques.
The principles and practices he offers are, he says, drawn from 850 coaching case studies. The object of the exercise is to free more time for overworked executives and make them more effective at work.
Like lot of advice in this field it is logic. But knowing it after reading it and then doing are generally two different issues. This is an easy-to-read, step-by-step little book with some intelligent observations about wasteful and ineffective executive habits. And every chapter offers 10 action steps you can take to make difference.
Stephenson’s goal, he says, is to offer the techniques that seem to have the greatest impact on executive efficiency and effectiveness. They are:
• How to focus on the main game at work, given all the distractions and sense of being spread too thin.
• How to work with the complexities of matrix reporting and communication lines.
• How to step up delegation effectiveness to get more done, faster.
• How to achieve better results through people.
• How to put emotional intelligence into practice and lead people.
• How to lead and part

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