HBR Leader’s Handbook



Book Title:  HBR Leader’s Handbook: Make an Impact, Inspire Your Organization and Get to the Next Level
Authors:  Ron Ashkenas and Brook Manville
Publisher:  Harvard Business Review Press
List Price:   $29.99
Format:  Soft cover, 260 pages
Publication Date:   2019
ISBN: 9781633693760
Reviewer:  Mark Cardullo
Review Date: Sep 2019




Ron Ashkenas’ and Brook Manville’s Harvard Business Review Leader’s Handbook is true to its title in that it should be used by any new or seasoned leader as a reference guide for strengthening leadership skills.  Their structure of the book, the areas they focus on, and examples they provide, allow readers to readily come back time and again to revisit key messages.  Their examples of real-life executive leadership include many practical applications which reinforce concepts from each chapter. As with many other books published by Harvard Business Review, the book also guides curious readers to areas for further discovery.  Overall, this guide meets and exceeds its intent to assist in the journey towards effective, contemporary leadership.

Structure of the Book

The Handbook outlines six leadership concepts tied together as a circular path.   The book begins with a focus on what many major leadership guides focus on:   setting a vision.  While this is not a unique position among texts, the book establishes the task of building a vision as the primary building block for leaders to drive both personal and organizational growth.  Many of the remaining chapters point to leadership’s vision development as providing a roadmap for future decision-making.  This construct is the glue that ties the succeeding focus areas together through the remainder of the reader’s experience.

Typically, any discussion of establishing visions usually is followed by a detailed review of how to develop organizational Strategies.   Handbook is no different in but this is where the book begins to show that it is a guide for 21st Century Leaders.  In Chapter 2, “Developing a Strategy”, the writers introduce the idea that leaders can benefit from both Lean and Agile concepts.  By using these tools, the book illustrates to leaders that focusing on customer and employee engagement, cycled learning, and supporting scope evolution are more effective ways to lead the modern workforce.  The authors revisit these concepts in the following chapters which reinforces that this is a handbook for 21st Century leaders.

Throughout the remainder of the book, the view shifts to building a team with the right talent, focus on achieving results, focus on driving the future, and finally, the most personable chapter in the book, focus on leadership oneself.  The final chapter, “Leading Yourself”, adds a unique touch compared to many other leadership books.  It recommends that to be effective, a leader must practice patience, humility, courageousness, and several other characteristics that are usually left out of standard leadership books.  In the end, the authors provide direction that leaves readers with the message that true leadership is not only about guiding others, it’s about guiding oneself to guide others.

Highlights: What I liked

Multiple features of the book are worth mentioning as they go beyond standard handbook documentation.  For example, each chapter includes a “Questions To Consider” which helps the reader recap and recall key concepts presented in the preceding chapter.  These are succinct but also detailed enough to likely result in readers dog-earing their books for easy future reference.


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About the Reviewer

Mark Cardullo

North Texas, USA





Mark Cardullo has been managing technical projects and resources for over 25 years.  His background is in Industrial Engineering and has MS degrees in Engineering Management and Manufacturing Engineering.  Mark’s career includes working in the Semiconductor, Defense, Medical Device and Food Technology industries.  He lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is active in the PMI Dallas chapter.

Mark can be contacted at mdcardullo7@gmail.com


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