42 was my jersey number when I played college basketball, and the great Jackie Robinson wore #42 – now permanently retired as a tribute by Major League Baseball – in winning the hearts and admiration of Americans while breaking the racial segregation barrier integrating baseball in 1947.
Today I have another reason to like number 42. It’s the lead-in for Pam Fox Rollin‘s new book 42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role. The book launches this week and it’s a good one.
There are books about the heart, books about the head, and books about how-to. Pam’s book combines all of those elements into a concise, practical set of actionable steps for anyone new to their first leadership role, or their tenth. Think of the book as a CliffsNotes for new managers, and the Rosetta Stone for experienced ones. Rollin notes that “books do change lives” and the reality is that more works like Pam’s would reduce the high bounce rate of people who fail at internal promotions and the even higher failure rate of people hired from outside companies.
As someone who works as an executive and leadership coach and has over 25+ plus years experience in business it never ceases to surprise me that people highly successful in one role “forget” the basics of what helped them succeed when they move into their next role. 42 Rules will help both the experienced manager just as much as it will help the first-time manager. Rather than clichés, these set of 42 rules are constants; true yesterday, true today, and likely true tomorrow.
While they are quite different in content and structure. 42 Rules reminds me of Roger Van Oech’s whack cards from “Give Yourself a Whack on the Side of the Head.” Just as Van Oech’s cards can stand on their own and also work as a whole, Pam Fox Rollin’s 42 Rules work both individually as well as well in the smartly constructed “clusters” of concurrent issues (“Setting Yourself Up for Success” for pre-start thinking, “Map the Terrain” for developing intelligence about what really matters in the new role, etc.) with rules and guidance forming specific actionable steps people can (and should) take within each cluster.
Duke University men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said “The truth is that many people set rules to keep from making decisions” and Pam sets things clear with her first rule – Rules Are Meant To Be Broken. She even anticipates New York Time’s writer Adam Bryant’s findings from his weekly “Corner Office” column distilled in his book of the same name with rule 23 – Balance Curiosity, Advice and Silence. Rule 35 – Ferret Out Feedback is a cornerstone for avoiding executive failure.
Call it the West Coast / Stanford Graduate School of Business effect but unlike Harvard’s Michael D. Watkins’ The First 90 Days – which I found to have gems scattered among many weeds and geared to working in more formal and established companies – 42 Rules is the type of book that people can use, pass along, and reuse throughout their career in both established firms and the many early stage and start-ups that make up so much of the economic dynamism of western North America.
42 Rules for Your New Leadership Role is available at Amazon.com here. Buy it. Read it. Share it. Use it.
Life Back West is an occasional set of writings focused on ways people, teams and organizations can be both more effective (doing the right thing) and more efficient (doing the right thing well). More about executive, career and team / leadership coaching services can be found at the “About J. Mike Smith and Back West, Inc.” sidebar or the “Hire Me” tab above. You can also read an online interview with me at WhoHub, as well as participate in my learning community courtesy of KnowledgeCrush.