Leadership – Books, Manuals and Procedures

Alice in Wonderland (2010 film)

“Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.” Doornob in “Alice in Wonderland” 

When I started nursing a very long time ago we had a procedures’ book! It told you how to do the common tasks.  And my word, were there a lot of common tasks.

Everything was described in very clear terms.

  • Have to give an injection? Read page 47 paragraph 3!
  • Have to rub a back? Read page 22 paragraph 2!

A few years later the procedures’ book had been abandoned.  Practice evolves and there needed to be regular updates.  Plus thinking had evolved too, it was considered better to have nurses who understood the underlying principles and, with practice, could remember the procedures.

I think those were the reasons.  I should say that by the time I left nursing I was regretting its passing in terms of standards.  But I’m sure the wish for nurses to understand why they did things was quite right!

When I later joined the Department of Health and Social Security as a Civil Servant, I found they had something like that procedures’ book to give to their managers on appointment.  It was very clear about how you should supervise in various situations.  It also had words to say on managing yourself and I still benefit from the advice it gave on managing your in tray.

I don’t think the Civil service has anything like it now.  But, of course, any numbers of people are sent on management courses, again, to learn the underlying principles.

I have never seen anything like either of those manuals written for leaders.  I suppose there might be something,  somewhere for military leaders.  But in my book, you can’t lead successfully “by the book”! Leadership is all about  the underlying principles.

Yes, you need to understand something about how people think and it helps if you know something about strategy and how to develop a vision.

And, there will be lots of people like me who will be very quick to offer advice and write books for you to read.

But at the end of the day with leadership you just have to get in there and do it.  You assess the individual situation, feel the weather and the mood of your group, keep your vision in sight and lead.  Turning to page 142, paragraph 47.5, is going to add very little value indeed!

I’d love to hear your views on this!
Wendy Mason works as a consultant, business coach and blogger, here and at Leaving the Public Sector. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to have around when you or your organization are going through a transition.  Talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her awendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439

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2 Replies to “Leadership – Books, Manuals and Procedures”

  1. Pingback: “Just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you?” The characteristics of leadership | Wisewolf Talking – Leadership and Change
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