The Unnatural Act of Leadership, Book Review Essay

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Odilia Bergh, Peachtree City Police Department
Human Resource Management and Development
The Unnatural Act of Management
February 26, 2013

I began this book like most books, with great anticipation that it was going to be amazing, why else would a qualified instructor assign it. I assumed that it would be a shining example of the finest managerial principals in existence all compacted into a simple to read text with plenty of graphs and helpful handouts. I was certain that I would be a more effective leader for having read it. I spent time strategizing how I would write my paper with great enthusiasm. Then, I read the book.

In the first few pages I found myself so caught up with the character development that I quickly lost sight of the big picture. I mean how could I be expected to believe that any one person could accurately describe an entire management team with such accuracy. Richard Thompkins’ descriptions and predictions were almost humorous. His intuition into his co-workers was uncanny. From their personal relationships to the weaknesses in one fail swoop. I wanted to meet Richard myself. As the story developed I later appreciated the lack of filler material as the characters were introduced and it also made for a quick refresher when I was trying to predict who was going to be effected next by Brent’s plans.

I quickly became invested in the ninety day project. I could recognize this was a process being explained with the assistance of a story, or a true manager refusing to have an editor alter his vision. Regardless, I decided to step back and focus on the big picture, the actual process of examining an existing managerial team and operations to evaluating its effectiveness through strong managerial principals.

Off we went.

Learning about the people you are working with, their qualifications and personality traits is imperative. Understanding how they’re perceived by their peers is critical. Richard Thompkins’ descriptions were no more than his perception regardless how accurate they might have been. The second part of the equation is the one on one interaction with individuals to develop our own opinions and “assumptions”. As I began to understand the characters I couldn’t help but begin to assign them new names, names associated with people I work with even myself at times. For the sake of this paper I’ll make up names and rank.

Moving into the early chapters I found that my Chief aligns himself strongly with many of the theories and practices that Brent spoke of from conducting effective meetings to managing work stress effectively. Unfortunately prior to his arrival our organization struggled to follow some basic principles that are imperative for success. Basics like “Read, Listen, Discuss, Observe, or Think.” As police officers, “read” stands out as an exceptional oddity. The term “assumptions” was also introduced early in the book and I felt it needed to be developed in more detail. In retrospect, I believe I struggled with the actual term used as “assumptions” as it has always had a negative connotation to me. Who hasn’t heard the phrase, “When you assume you make and ass out of you and me?” Regardless, I did recognize that assumptions as introduced are made through communication, making it imperative that effective communication occur to reach valid “assumptions”. As with any ideas or assumptions they can be altered rather quickly by a number of factors that arise. Understanding this and managing them closely will avoid mistakes to having any major or lasting impact.

As employees grow and learn, regardless of rank or title, our assumptions of their abilities might lag or be clouded unless we are constantly communicating. I feel that managing by assumptions can be more effective if you understand who you are dealing with, regardless if you like them personally or not. I also recognize that assumptions can easily be influenced by emotions if it’s not...
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