Author Emily Bennington's approachable overview of strategic influence.
Leadership coach Emily Bennington offers this simple equation at the beginning of her book Who Says It's a Man's World: "You + 15 Goals + 60 Days = Rock Star."
The statement says a lot about the author's approach to career advice: concise, goal-oriented and relentlessly upbeat and chirpy. It's a style that's perfectly adapted to young women first entering the workforce out of college. The book is filled with situation-specific advice in a digestible format that will come in handy just about every workday. Received an assignment you don't agree with? See if you can convince your colleague to break it up into smaller components to test its validity. Have gossipy coworkers? Engage only if it affects the business.
The fifteen goals Bennington refers to in her equation are those that readers select from a number of choices at the conclusion of each section (there are five, covering topics from self-awareness to leadership). These range from the inspirational--such as reading the biographies of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. to see how these promoters of nonviolent protest dealt with anger management--to the more lighthearted, including setting up a white board in your workspace and encouraging coworkers to write favorite quotes on it.
Most of Bennington's advice, as solid as it is, will be familiar to anyone with a few years' experience under her belt. But about three quarters of the way through, when the subject turns toward team building and leadership, the author's cheeky, girl-power tone overlays a sophisticated discussion of strategic influence. It is here that the author separates herself from the advice-giving pack. Bennington exhorts her readers to build trust, inspire, and serve followers in order to influence them. This influence, she goes on to explain, is distinct from the authority that comes from position and title--a tool she considers a weapon of last resort.
Some of this discussion might seem academic to her less experienced readers, who have yet to assume leadership roles. But learning about it early in one's career can help a young employee find appropriate role models and develop into a truly exceptional leader herself. And Bennington's witty, conversational approach makes it an easy lesson to learn.
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