The Essential Manager’s Handbook – review

The Essential Manager’s Handbook: The Ultimate Visual Guide to Successful Management
Published by DK/Penguin Random House, 2016; 463 pages

Really liked this book as a good jumping off point to learn about Management and Leadership. It is very well laid out, and the visual nature of the book – with bright colors, dialog boxes, and assorted graphics -added a lot of the ease of comprehension of the material, and kept it interesting enough that even the not-so-engrossing aspects were interesting enough to keep my focus.

The book itself is broken in to several sections:

  • Managing People
  • Leadership
  • Achieving High Performance
  • Effective Communication
  • Presenting
  • Negotiating

Each section is broken into chapters to focus on the overall topic. There are quizzes and self-checks throughout the book to help you determine where your own competencies are, and the chapters provide actionable ideas that you can begin using immediately.

Unsurprisingly, the first part of the book is on knowing yourself.  It advocates keeping a journal and doing various assessments (360 feedback, measures of emotional intelligence, etc.) to determine where your leadership and management skills actually are – and then using the information in the book – and others it references, in order to improve those skills.

I could quite literally fill this with gems of information and knowledge that I gleaned from my reading, but that would make this unduly cumbersome.  I will note that a lot of the knowledge gained I will be using in an upcoming class on being a Seneschal.

The bottom line is that I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you are new to the idea of leadership and/or management.

So, how did all this start anyway?

Facebook is a great social media site for a lot of reasons, and it also has its own failings.  This, however, is a post about how it accidently was a catalyst for a big project that has the potential to improve the lives and SCA experience of a whole Kingdom.

Facebook recently reminded me of a post that I made on September 16, 2018 about wanting to know what my next class I teach should be. One of the comments on that was from Baroness Kelda about us co-teaching a class.  I sent her a message and we cooked up a class for Fall Academy from “Two Helium Handed Baronesses”.

The class went really well, and ideas started to roll for us to expand to a full track of classes about service in the SCA.  This was actually done at College of Three Ravens on February 23, 2019 with Kelda, myself, and Baroness Ekaterina being the main instigators. The response from this was astounding and left all three of us – and many of the other teachers and roundtable participants – shocked.  This was something that people really saw value in, and that was when the work really kicked off.  We started to assemble a team of people and AE Leads was created.

AELeads is an effort to create an informed, engaged, and positive volunteer experience and community within the Kingdom of AEthelmearc. Our tag line is “developing community, confidence, and leadership.” This endeavor is powered by the belief we can integrate volunteer management tools and leadership best practices into our Kingdom culture to provide each of us – because everyone in our organization is a volunteer – with the tools and practices we need to ensure our Kingdom is welcoming, inclusive, and well-run – plus, a fun place to be.

It is now just past a year from that first Facebook post asking for class ideas and we have grown. We are looking at ways to make things more accessible for members of the SCA, to provide office specific training and mentoring, as well as general leadership and management skills. We still have a ways to go, and we invite you to help us.