Book Review: A Bias For Action


Book Review: A Bias For Action

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When you ask managers what gets in the way of success at work, you hear the familiar complaints like not having enough time, resources and alternatives. However, these are for the most part excuses. In their book “A Bias for Action: How Effective Managers Harness Their Willpower to Achieve Results” – Sumantra Ghoshal and Heike Bruch explain how managers can overcome busyness and operate more independently by extending the scope of their jobs, pursuing ambitious goals and expanding their choices – thus reclaiming their jobs. 

A Bias for Action
How Effective Managers Harness Their Willpower, Achieve Results, and Stop Wasting Time

90% of managers waste their time and fritter away their productivity by doing what they presume everyone else wants them to do. According to Sumantra Ghoshal and Heike Bruch, these managers remain trapped in inefficiency because they assume that they do not have enough personal control over their jobs. However, it seems that the most effective managers are purposeful, trust in their own judgment and adopt long-term big-picture views to fulfill personal goals that tally with those of the organization as a whole. They break out of their perceived boxes, take control of their jobs, and become more productive by learning to act on their own potential and make a difference. Here’s how.

Dealing with Demands
Almost everyone complains about not having enough time to deal with all the demands on them, but in reality a highly fragmented day is also a very lazy day. It can seem easier to fight fires than to set priorities and stick to them. The truth is that managers who carefully set boundaries and priorities achieve far more than busy ones do. Effective managers proactively control their tasks and the expectations of their major stakeholders, which allows them to meet strategic goals rather than fight fires.

Developing Resources
Besides lack of time, many managers complain about a shortage of people, money and equipment. However, effective managers develop inventive strategies for circumventing real or imagined limitations. They map out ways around constraints by developing and acting on long-term strategies, making trade-offs, and occasionally breaking rules to achieve their goals.

Exploring Alternatives
Most managers complain about having too little freedom in their jobs. They ignore their freedom to act and surrender their options. Effective managers, by contrast, develop and use a deep expertise about an individual area that dovetails with the company’s strategy. This tactic allows them to come up with a variety of innovative approaches to a given situation.

To reclaim your job and better support your company’s priorities, you need to prioritize demands, liberate resources and exploit alternatives. Along with understanding how we inhibit ourselves and taking purposeful, strategic action, we can seize control of our jobs – rather than letting our job control us. The payoff? Impressive results for your company and a rewarding work life for you.

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Info on Authors:

Sumantra Ghoshal  was a fellow at the Advanced Institute of Management Research in the U.K and a professor of strategy and international management at the London Business School.

Heike Bruch is a professor of leadership at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

Title: A Bias for Action: How Effective Managers Harness Their Willpower, Achieve Results, and Stop Wasting Time

Publisher: Harvard Business Press