Book review: Getting the Balance Right

Emma De Vita reviews the book by Peter Shaw

Getting the Balance Right, by Peter Shaw
Getting the Balance Right, by Peter Shaw

This thoughtful book tackles the challenge that every manager, whether a novice or an old hand, faces: getting the balance right.

That could mean finding the point of equilibrium between leading and following, principle and pragmatism or engagement and detachment. The author, Peter Shaw, is an executive coach who has previously worked in government.

There is a section on what it means to be a leader. "Leading is often about setting a tone," writes Shaw. "If the leader is measured and calm, then others in the organisation are likely to take on a similar demeanour." Conversely, if they have a short fuse and a rude manner, that is what others in their team will regard as 'normal' behaviour. What kind of leader are you?

According to Shaw, being a leader means not only knowing when to tell and when to listen, and recognising the things only you can do, but also bringing clarity to the context in which people are operating. Furthermore, you must set clear expectations and adapt your approach to meet the needs of different individuals. Perhaps the most pertinent point comes last, which is "not taking yourself too seriously and being ready to laugh at your mistakes".

Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today

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