November 2023
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TD Magazine

Essential Leadership Skills

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

The Manager's Handbook: Five Simple Steps to Build a Team, Stay Focused, Make Better Decisions, and Crush Your Competition
By David Dodson
Wiley, 288 pp., $30
Reviewed by Suneeta Mishra

Given my experience managing people in various organizations within diverse work cultures, I was not sure how much value this book would be for me. As it turns out, The Manager's Handbook has been a huge help.


It lists five essential skills that all managers must be good at if they want to get things done:

  • Commitment to team building
  • Fanatical time management
  • Willingness to seek and take advice
  • Setting and adhering to priorities
  • Obsession with quality

The book is based on years of research and experience; the author explains how to get better at leading and managing people in any kind of organization. Dodson—a Stanford University faculty member, entrepreneur, and investor in more than 100 companies—resists the urge to lecture or pontificate. Instead, he relies on real-life stories of successes and failures.

This resource is an essential playbook for all current and aspiring leaders. The biggest reward is reading the model scripts for the crucial and often uncomfortable actions managers must take. My favorite was a script for an exit interview in which Dodson explains how such an interview can be a competitive weapon, adding the three Cs for sharing the interview feedback: Curate the feedback, create a growth plan, and close the loop with the affected person.


Each chapter ends with a recap providing easy-to-digest tips and tactics for each skill that you can refer to when needed. A key takeaway for me was the author's practical suggestions on letting people go from an organization gracefully, quickly, and with compassion.

A primary theme of the book is the importance of getting the right people on the bus, making sure that they are in the right seats, and coaching them for success. Dodson makes it clear that managers are responsible for and must take ownership of their team members' development to ensure their employees achieve the desired success. That kind of working relationship benefits the manager, employee, and company.

About the Author

Suneeta Mishra is a senior instructional design manager at Safe-Guard Products International;

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