Posts Tagged ‘Essence of a Manager’

Chapter downloads and book marketing

June 14, 2013

My book “Essence of a Manager”  is about the behaviour of managers. It was published by Springer in April 2011 and I now begin to understand why my editor strongly suggested that I make my Chapters “self-sufficient and free-standing”.

Springer just informed me that:

The chapter downloads on SpringerLink means your book was one of the top 50% most downloaded eBooks in the relevant Springer eBook Collection in 2012. To further widen the distribution of your book, it has also been made available as an Amazon Kindle eBook version.  As you can see, in addition to the print book, the electronic version reaches a broad readership and provides increased visibility for your work. This is especially noticeable in the long run: statistical data shows that the usage of electronic publications remains stable for years after publication, so this is what you can expect for your book for the years to come.

The book has its own homepage and those interested can  request a free online review copy of the book from here. Each individual Chapter can also be separately downloaded. The Table of Contents is here: EOAM ToC

Power and empowerment

April 30, 2011

Edmund Burke 1729-1797

“Do the thing and you will have the power. But they that do not the thing – had not the power”.

In the style of  Michel Foucault building on Niccolò Machiavelli, I take social power to be the state of an individual which can be applied to enable the mobilisation of actions. It can be taken to be similar to the state of energy of a material which enables, by its release, the doing of work.

  • Social power is the ability to mobilise actions.
  • The exercise of power is the mobilisation of actions.
  • The proper exercise of power is the mobilisation of the necessary and sufficient actions for a particular purpose.  

Empowerment then is not merely the delegating of authority. It is the increasing of the ability of the receiver to mobilise actions in his turn and may include some delegation of authority.

Empowerment then consists of actions to increase one or other of the states of human condition which confer power on his subject (knowledge, skill, social status, wealth or authority for example), so as to enhance the subject’s capability for mobilising actions.

But whether empowerment of others is needed or beneficial is a different matter. It should not be done merely for the sake of empowerment. It needs to be done for the sake of enhancing the ability of others to mobilise actions for some defined purpose.

Empowerment carries risk.

Empowering the incompetent is putting a loaded gun in the hands of a chimpanzee.

From Essence of a Manager: Chapter 2

The Art of Motivation

April 21, 2011

I have been conducting a workshop on motivation in the work place as part of an exercise to establish a performance based incentive scheme for a company trying to change from being a family run enterprise to one which can be floated on the stock exchange in a year or two.

Praise Loudly, Blame Softly

In human behaviour, motivation can be considered to be a force. It is brought to bear when performing actions. Where actions have no purpose motivation is undefined. Where there is purpose I take it to be without doubt that the purpose is better served when the required actions are carried out by people who are motivated rather than by people who are indifferent.

The motivated state can then be described as that biological, emotional or cognitive condition which generates a force – variously called incentive, enthusiasm, inspiration, drive, desire, impetus or commitment – which can be applied to a person’s actions. The difference between a motivated person and an unmotivated person lies in the force they bring to bear when performing the same action. It follows that motivation is that particular force within a person which infuses dynamism into his actions or his behaviour towards a particular purpose. The art of motivation then lies in the manner of generating such a force of engagement in people when acting towards a particular purpose.  It is the influencing of human desires and drives by addressing their needs and deficiencies such that they have a vested interest in achieving the purpose. ……

It is a universal and well established observation that when some dissatisfaction is acute, all other drives and actions are subordinated to the alleviation of the acute dissatisfaction. …

What constitutes satisfaction or dissatisfaction varies from one individual to the next. What levels of these are considered acute or tolerable or acceptable or unacceptable or mild satisfaction or ecstasy, also vary with the individual. To what extent and with what velocity a change of state will drive an individual towards reaching a different state of satisfaction or dissatisfaction also depends upon the individual. With this level of variation, and with this dependence upon the individual, motivating people is in the realm of art and is still a long way from being an exact science. The use of rewards and penalties to achieve the actions chosen to be elicited from specific individuals is the art of motivation

….. To be able to consciously engage in motivation, which is a necessary task for a manager, it is vital that some assessment be made of the current status of satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the subject. This in turn determines whether some other state of satisfaction or reduced dissatisfaction will be sufficiently separated from the current state for any motivation to be feasible. This applies irrespective of whether the subject is a subordinate, a superior or a complete stranger. Without such an assessment the drive actually generated by any motivator that is applied, will be nothing more than a guess. The objective is of course, to intentionally provide sufficient drive to the subject such that the desired action results and is carried out forcefully. In a few cases the manager will have sufficient information to be able to make a fairly accurate assessment. In most cases however, he will only have partial information. Nevertheless, the starting point must be an assessment of the current status. 

Book promotion > Light blogging

April 8, 2011

Light blogging for the next week as I am travelling on an assignment and shall also be promoting my book. After much discussion the publisher Springer has agreed to class it as a book for “practitioners” rather than as a text book. Just a small change but it dropped their price by almost 50%!

Essence of a Manager

The ebook version is  now available here:

Registering at Springer:

A new field :

April 1, 2011

Books and the marketing of books is a new field for me – but it is fascinating and I am still a beginner at this.

I have established a new website specifically for marketing two books:

  1. 3000 Miles to Freedom by Brig. M.M Pillai MC
  2. Essence of a Manager


A “Culture of Courage” in management — from “Essence of a Manager”

March 31, 2011

“Without fear being present, bravery and courage do not appear on stage.”

From Chapter 7,  Essence of a Manager

Courage is the subordination of fear to purpose.

A manager is perforce required to take risk. Every judgment or selection or decision he takes results in actions with an uncertain outcome. The presence of risk and the uncertainty about results inevitably give rise to apprehensions and fears. It is a manager’s task to subordinate such fears and continue with judiciously chosen actions towards his objectives. Extending his capability for taking actions and stretching the envelope of actions available to him are key elements of his core competence. It is his courage which enables him to operate in new and untried areas which are outside his comfort zone and thereby generate a steady stream of brave actions.

A manager can create a “courage space” around himself and as this expands and grows and meets other spaces of courage a “culture of courage” can develop within an organisation. ……

It has always struck me that super-heroes must be particularly devoid of courage since their fantastic abilities must mean that they have little opportunity to feel any fear. ….

Class and Diamonds from “Essence of a Manager”

March 30, 2011
A scattering of "brilliant" cut diam...

Image via Wikipedia

Class from “Essence of a Manager”:

Class is not appearance and it is not personality or charisma; it is a style and elegance of behaviour and a consistency of actions.

The cut of a diamond as an analogy for class:

Class in a person is reminiscent to me of the cut of a diamond. A master diamond cutter chooses the facets he cuts to give the most pleasing whole in accordance with his own aesthetics and to suit a particular stone. He tries to create his composition of cuts to get the most impressive combination of the brilliance (due to light reflected out from the interior) and fire (due to refracted light within the stone) that he can. He polishes the facets to get the lustre (light reflected from the surface) he wants. Raw stones have their internal characteristics and colour and flaws, which both enable and restrict what cuts are possible. The master cutter’s level of skill may further define the type and fineness and symmetry of the cuts that are feasible. He optimises between waste reductions on the one hand against size and cut of the gems resulting from a single raw stone on the other. Sometimes, and especially if some flaw exists in the stone, the cutter will sacrifice size to get an improved brilliance or fire or scintillation. He may even deliberately use a flaw to enhance the fire or he may cut away a flaw to enhance the brilliance. He may vary the cut and polish depending upon the colour and clarity of the stone. He may design his cuts to enhance the colour which is near the surface of the stone. He combines and compounds his skills with the characteristics of the stone and compensates for its flaws to create the finished gem-stone. The value of a finished diamond rests in its size and clarity and colour and above all, in its cut.

A good manager is his own master diamond cutter. His fundamental attributes are his various facets and his weaknesses are his flaws. It is his own aesthetics and his awareness of his strengths and weaknesses which lead to the manner in which he combines, compounds or compensates for his attributes. The manner of their combination leads to his behaviour which when it is then observed in the light of the society he operates in shows up as his class. His behaviour defines his class. Therefore class is not something which is or can be developed explicitly, but it develops as a consequence of an individual’s awareness of his own strengths and weaknesses. An imperfect balance of his attributes improves as he develops his weak points or compensates for them. Inevitably his behaviour develops and matures. But classy behaviour, when observed, can be emulated.  Feedback from the surrounding society about the behaviour observed can be built upon. Emulation requires more than superficial replication of a behaviour pattern. It needs the development of the fundamental attributes as well. Merely copying behaviour which is not backed up by the soundness of the underlying attributes is not sustainable. Classy behaviour when it is just faked is undertaken for the sake of appearance and not because of any conviction of what is considered the right and correct thing to do. It is then like having fake diamonds of cubic zirconia or of silicon carbide, which glitter and can deceive but which shatter if subjected to impact stress.

“Essence of a Manager” released

March 29, 2011

Print copies of my book have been released.

The accompanying press release is here: Essence of a Manager press release english

“Essence of a Manager” now available on-line

February 28, 2011

The print edition of my book “Essence of a Manager” is due out later in March but is available for on-line reading from today at Springer.

Essence of a Manager

Springer Science+Business Media

Essence of a Manager

Pillai, Krishna

1st Edition., 2011, XIV, 175 p., Hardcover

ISBN: 978-3-642-17580-0

Due: February 2011

Comments / reviews are very welcome here.

Success and goodness in management

February 21, 2011


Essence of a Manager

Success is transient. Just like profit or cash-flow – it is over once it has been recognised. Goodness lasts longer – it is like a balance sheet item.”

“To be able to deal with bureaucrats in India it is necessary to understand that it is the potential for blame which has to be minimised while the potential for personal gain has to be maximised”.

%d bloggers like this: