THE MEMOIRS of chief executives can be exercises in pompous self-justification or, just as bad, in grandiose philosophising about social and political trends. Occasionally, however, a corporate titan writes a book that is both readable and a practical guide for managers hoping to follow in their footsteps. David Cote, the former CEO of Honeywell, an industrial conglomerate, has produced an excellent effort with “Winning Now, Winning Later”.
It is true that Mr Cote occasionally comes across as a bit of a martinet. When a team failed to come up with suggestions to cut costs, he ordered them to cancel all other meetings and keep talking until they produced the results. And his juniors were clearly kept on their toes; he was also very much a hands-on manager. “The idea that as a leader you can focus on strategy and delegate its implementation to great people is a fallacy,” he writes. But his approach paid off and the book is a detailed guide to the tricky task of managing a big business.
To give one small example, plenty of executives talk about encouraging greater diversity in the workforce, but little gets done. Mr Cote was fed up with junior managers declaring that they could not find suitable candidates in their area. So he had his team break down the population statistics in places where his factories were located to...
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