In our troubled economy, managers must demonstrate leadership skills like never before. Damien Owens reviews a new book that aims to help managers get the best from themselves, their employees and their business
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Author: Damien Owens, BA BAI CEng MIEI, registrar, Engineers Ireland

Enda Larkin is a seasoned writer of the management genre, having written several other books in the area. This volume, entitled The Essential Manager – 30 Core Elements of Leadership, is well written and up to the minute. It cites the usual management gurus (e.g. Drucker, Mintzberg, et cetera), but also a range of contributors from a variety of related fields.

The thirty essential core elements of leadership, according to the author, are categorised into three main areas. These concentrate on the individual manager, managing employees and about business. As a result, this is not necessarily a book that one reads from cover to cover, but instead one can dip into for advice on specific topics.

The book is structured to address particular areas of concern to today’s managers. It is very readable and provides the reader with a short and firm grasp of the relevant considerations of a topic.

Larkin hits the nail on the head in the introduction to the book by saying that the book is a starting point to give managers a taste of a topic and then provide some ideas for further research. Based on his considerable experience, he has identified a list of the key issues facing managers and then sets out to  provide guidance.

The title and cover of the book is somewhat disconcerting. Added to this, the cover depicts a periodic table of elements – many of the symbols are picked up in each of the chapter titles, which begin with a highlighted symbol.

Unfortunately, the author did not provide a framework for the elements or a table of how the elements interacted, so the analogy with the periodic table became moot. In my view, this was an opportunity lost and the periodic table analogy came across somewhat gimmicky, at least to this scientific reader.

However, the book provides an excellent and well-researched introduction to a wide range of fields of interest to existing and aspiring managers alike. It is written in an intelligible and straightforward style, which dispenses with waffle-y terminology to provide insightful and pertinent information.

Larkin chooses excellent real-world examples as analogies to illustrate points in a most effective manner. For the experienced manager, much of the material will not be new; however Larkin’s style is compelling and he provides much-nuanced material that will strike important chords with readers.

The book reviewed was only available in hard copy – I cannot help but feeling that an electronic version would be of more benefit to managers, who could read it on iPads or Kindles and avail of superior searchability and weblinks. I would recommend this book as a stalwart  reference in any manager’s office. It does not claim to have all the answers but, as the saying goes: is leor nod don eolach – ‘a hint is sufficient for the wise’.

The Essential Manager: 30 Core Elements of Leadership, is priced at €17.99 (£15.99). ISBN: 978-1-908199-72-0. Available from bookshops nationwide and online.

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  Author: Damien Owens, BA BAI CEng MIEI, registrar, Engineers Ireland Enda Larkin is a seasoned writer of the management genre, having written several other books in the area. This volume, entitled The Essential Manager – 30 Core Elements of Leadership, is well written and up to the minute. It cites the...