Getting “R.E.A.L.” as a leader, according to author Dianne Durkin, results in an inviting workplace with engaged employees. This philosophy is what Durkin offers in her slim volume geared toward middle and upper-level managers. Her twenty-five years of experience as a consultant, trainer, motivational speaker, and author lend creditability to The Power of Magnetic Leadership. She conveys serious workplace issues in a breezy, conversational style often used in management seminars.
This is a to-do book. Filled with self-assessment tools to help determine personal management style, listening skills, and life goals, it prompts the reader to reflect on many of the most critical issues facing today’s managers. Her acronym, R.E.A.L., is the focus of the book: Recruiting, Engaging, Appreciating, and Leading. Sprinkled throughout the book are R.E.A.L. tips intended as quick lessons.
Durkin uses examples from a number of well-known businesses, including JetBlue, Swedwood (IKEA), Sony Pictures, Nike, and Starbucks, to drive home the importance of vision and value statements and employee recognition programs. She presents realistic work-life situations in covering interview strategies, listening skills, and coaching techniques. Durkin offers a number of ideas for employee recognition and appreciation depending on an organization’s budget. Simple work environment enhancement ideas are presented. Her section on generational differences is particularly valuable; what motivates baby boomers won’t necessarily inspire the millennial generation. She also provides a list of characteristics of magnetic leaders along with several examples of quality leadership and emphasizes the importance of health and fitness to avoid physical and mental burnout. In addition, Durkin offers tips on how to effectively use technology as a manager in today’s wired, global economy.
The author places a great deal of emphasis on communication, especially when speaking with employees. Without clear, direct communication, asking critical questions, and listening carefully, she argues, it is difficult to build trust and loyalty with employees and customers. To make her point, she employs a number of examples and exercises to develop effective listening skills.
Graphics enhance the text and help the reader better understand concepts and statistical reports. She frequently cites studies and news reports in support of her management lessons. The book is well organized, building on each chapter.
Magnetic leadership is possible for most anyone committed to creating a better work environment. Durkin’s book is a great pep talk and valuable asset for those with the vision and commitment to be good leaders.