Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows by Richard Hytner

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Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows by Richard Hytner

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Buy Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows by Richard Hytner at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Business and Finance
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A look at why the top job is not always best job. An engaging read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: June 2014
Publisher: Profile Books
ISBN: 978-1781250464

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I've always been fascinated by the existence of that shadowy figure, the consigliere, in stories about the Mafia. He - and it was always a man - appeared to be full of wisdom, with the interests of the family at heart and without an ambitious bone in his body, or so it would seem. It was the title of Richard Hytner's book which drew me in - along with the idea that coming top is sometimes second best. That seemed to go against everything that I'd ever been brought up to believe. So - does he make a good case for being the second in command?

Making a case for something which most people - intuitively - don't believe in is no easy job, but Hytner has experience. He joined Saatchi and Saatchi in 2003 as CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa but stepped down to become deputy chairman, a role which he has found more rewarding despite the fall in salary. It was this experience which caused him to look more widely at the role of the second in command and whether or not more people could, or even should regard this as a positive career choice rather than a failure to reach their goal.

The examples - role models - given are reasonably wide, stretching through literature, history and modern business, with the last providing some well-known names. The points made about Sir Alex Ferguson and his time as manager of Manchester United are excellent and particularly revealing, but I found examples relating to Alastair Campbell less so, although in fairness this might be because I've read more about politics than I have about football so there was less freshness there. I was amused though by the quote on the front of the book from Campbell that it's [a] fascinating account of the role of the leaders behind the leader - there are lessons here for every walk of life about a book in which he appears (according to the index) on at least twenty occasions.

There's plenty of ground covered in the book - with examinations of the roll of the leader and the second in command, starting from a project management tool known as RASCI in which each member of a team is assigned a letter which defines their function in the team (rather simplistically I'll explain them as Responsible, Accountable, Support, Consultant and to be Informed but not involved) but Hytner has simplified to concept even further to deal exclusively with leadership and refers to the A (the person who is Accountable) and the C (the Consiglieri). His examination of the roles of each and the competencies they require is exhaustive and occasionally thought provoking, particularly with regard to the interaction between the two rolls.

It could be that there are many people struggling on in leadership roles for which they have no aptitude and which give them little enjoyment. This book might convince them that they should make changes. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also appreciate Get Things Done: What Stops Smart People Achieving More and How You Can Change by Robert Kelsey. If you're havering over making the decision, then you should have a look at Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work by Chip Heath and Dan Heath.

Buy Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows by Richard Hytner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows by Richard Hytner at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows by Richard Hytner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows by Richard Hytner at Amazon.com.

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