March 2022
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Lead With Confidence

Monday, February 28, 2022

The Successful Manager: Practical Approaches for Building and Leading High-Performance Teams
By James Potter and Mike Kavanagh
Potter Consulting, 209 pp., $18.99

It happens so often: A high performer is promoted to a managerial position only to struggle with the realities that come with leadership. While there are many books on management, Potter and Kavanagh bring a fresh approach and a in-depth and broad selection of topics.


They invite readers on an educational journey to become a top-tier manager. They note that this journey is the number 1 professional goal for those who manage teams, no matter whether they are a novice manager or a seasoned veteran. The authors also explain why it's important for a manager to spend a large amount of time engaging with people beyond their team. The explanation they give is likely to stand out as an aha moment for many readers.

The book progresses through topics such as goal setting and prioritization to tailoring your management style by managing through a crisis. Novice managers can consider the book a primer; veteran managers will find it refreshing and applicable to their responsibilities. The points Potter and Kavanagh make regarding giving feedback will cause any supervisor to pause and examine their current method.

Of note, the authors' leadership knowledge is based on their professional experiences. Potter's background includes working closely with more than 100 organizations to accelerate corporate growth. He founded two companies and has worked in large companies such as General Electric and NBCUniversal. Kavanagh has worked as a C-level advisor, led large companies, and coached high performers.

The two weave in anecdotes from their significant experiences, such as how a CEO artfully empowers employees when they are in error, avoiding the sandwich approach of interjecting negative feedback between positive feedback. Potter and Kavanagh offer sage insights to guide readers with practical examples of what managers will likely face at some point during their career as well as suggestions for professional growth. Rather than providing readers with a to-do list, the authors assume the role of mentors, providing advice and prompting readers to put the information into action. That approach makes this book an interesting, mentally interactive read.

About the Author

Denise Hicken is a senior learning consultant with Floyd Medical Center in Georgia. Her career has served her well in this role, allowing her to expand her contributions to the organization. Denise holds a Journalism degree and a master’s in education from the University of Missouri. She earned her CPTD in 2017 and is currently working toward a certification in project management.

Denise has worked in the news industry, banking, and now in healthcare. Her career path has given her a unique insight into the business of healthcare. However, her passion is enhancing culture in the workplace through leadership development. She leads an initiative titled “Culture Conversations” which provides leaders with tools and guidance to hold monthly conversations with their teams on topics which focus on enhancing culture. This initiative was nominated for best “People Focused Initiative” at Floyd in 2018.

She is a contributing author for the ATD Talent Development and Training in Healthcare Handbook.

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