Everything I need to know about being a manager, I learned from my kids by Ian Durston
I was eager to read this book: Ian Durston and I are both managers with three children. We have much in common so I was confident that we were going to get along just fine.
On the positive side, the book is easy to read and the chapters are broken down into bite-sized sections – leadership, motivation, performance etc – so you can dip into it with ease as your limited time permits.
Durston begins with the hardly earth- shattering assertion that parenthood and management are extremely similar processes as they both involve people, so therefore you can use the same techniques in both spheres. If only it were that simple!
Everything I need to know about being a manager... is largely a collection of anecdotes from his experiences as a father and as a manager, and there is much to empathise with. However, many of the connections between management and parenthood are either tenuous or blindingly obvious. For example, Durston notes that effective managers and parents both require well-honed leadership skills, citing – in the case of the latter – that universal dilemma of getting your child to bed promptly so you can enjoy dinner with friends.
Durston presents some useful insights (for both parents and managers) but for much of the book he offers no revelatory advice, but instead repeatedly reiterates that many issues in both spheres are “a matter of judgement”. He also skates over some critical areas, such as assertiveness.
Durston’s view is that once you understand that everyone has a right to his or her own opinion, then being assertive is easy. I am sure that many managers (particularly women) would wish it were that straightforward!
He also skims over the issue of intra-team conflict (something that is a perennial problem in both the work and domestic arena!) by merely saying that when two guys on his team couldn’t get over their differences “it drove him crazy”. Elsewhere in the book he goes into unnecessary detail, for example in the section on communication he presents a long list of ways of disseminating information.
It was difficult to see what original contribution the book really had to offer: if you want a parenting book you might be better off with Biddulph (whom Durston quotes regularly at length) and there is tons of literature on business psychology; management theory and practice if that is what you are looking for. The book is exactly what Durston set out to avoid: “rambling nonsense of no use to anybody”.
I had hoped to find the book inspirational, but rather was left feeling quite inadequate compared to Durston, who presents himself as not only an accomplished manager in a high-powered jet-set job, but also as a great father who spends plenty of quality time with his three young children as well as doing the decorating, reading the Sunday papers and writing a book. Personally, I’d be more interested in reading about how he manages to achieve all that!
Everything I need to know about being a manager, I learned from my kids by Ian Durston is published by Piatkus Books Ltd. To order a copy from Amazon please click the link below:
Everything I Need to Know About Being a Manager, I Learned from My Kids