About the Author

W. Steven Brown, the author of the book entitled 13 Fatal Errors Managers Make And How You Can Avoid Them, is the president of the Fortune Group which has been helping businesses to succeed and managers to manage. The author states that he has seen just about every kind of business situation. After all the years in the corporate trenches solving real, not textbook problems, he asserts that companies fail, primarily because managers fail. Managers fail, not because cannot master numbers but because they try to master, manipulate or ignore people.

Book Synopsis

13 Fatal Errors Managers Make And How You Can Avoid Them is published by Fleming H. Revell, and it is written for managers or anyone that wants to be a manager someday. It is equally for old managers and young people just starting their business careers. It is about perfecting leadership and managerial skills by avoiding the common errors that managers with the people they manage. The book provides truly classic mistakes that managers have been making all over since Abel tried to supervise Cain. These errors can prove fatal for a corporation. The book catalogues all the most common managerial errors that occur in business situations that have gone sour in hundreds of companies that the Fortune Group has served in the United States, Canada, and Australia. The words used to describe the situations may differ, but the underlying problems seldom do.

Book Structure

The book is segmented into thirteen chapters based on the identified number of errors that managers make. Fatal Error Number One is referred to as the refusal to accept personal accountability. The five prerequisites essential for business success are the quality or uniqueness of the product, proper timing, adequate capital, people resources, and effective management. If a manager lacks the fifth element, he will not have the first four. Without effective management, correct decisions cannot be made about a product’s features and the proper time for its introduction into the marketplace. A company lacking adequate management cannot acquire, much less, sustain adequate capital. Above all, it takes proper management to attract the best people and to coach and develop them. The manager who does not stop the buck would have the buck stopping him, for, in business, everything begins and ends with management, and it must be accountable to work effectively. When Harry Truman was the President of the United States, he had a sign in the Oval Office reading: “The buck stops here.” The chapter advises that every manager should adopt the same dictum. The book discusses other concepts such as choosing the path, the failure formula, the three unspoken words, a philosophy of management in its first chapter.

Failure to develop people is identified as the Fatal Error No. 2 in the book. Management has a significant purpose to provide for the continuation of business over time, personnel change, and absence. A properly managed business can continue successful operations over generations of employees and during the temporary or permanent absence of any given manager. Moreover, the permanent absence of a manager due to transfer to another position, retirement, poor health or even death must not cripple the company. Every corporation must have a succession plan. The chapter also looks at the concepts of ineffective management, characters versus character, side-line managing management traps, etc.

Chapter 3 – 7 examines the fatal errors of trying to control results instead of influencing thinking, joining the crowd, managing everyone the same way, forgetting the importance of profit, and concentrating on problems rather than objectives.

Chapter 8 is based on Fatal Error No. 8 of managers being a buddy instead of a boss. So often, managers want to be the employees’ buddy after work hours, and then come to the office and manage the same employees the next day. It is an either-or situation. The manager must be the buddy or the manager. Successful hybrids do not exist in the workplace. Most managers have received advice through the years concerning how they should conduct themselves when they are in the company of those they manage. The chapter also examines the concepts of managing former peers, being a business rather than a family, official soulmate syndrome, expanding responsibilities, etc.

In Chapters 9 to 12, the book notionally x-rays the fatal errors of failing to set standards, failure to train staff, condoning incompetence, and recognising only top performers. If a manager took all the top performers in his industry and hired them for his company, at the end of the year, only one person would hold the number one spot. Before the manager begins to think of how fantastically such employees would perform, he must realise that he cannot hire all the top performers, as a department within the company. No matter how great the company’s financial resources are, or its recruiting abilities or connections, its efforts at recruiting only top performers will fail because many top performers don’t exist.

Chapter 13, the last chapter, is based on the Fatal Error No. 13 which is trying to manipulate people.  Managers can change the attitude of people but must take care of the methods used to influence staff. Good influences will add to the self-esteem of staff and will make them more productive. Bad influences will cause the team to feel manipulated and production will be negatively affected. The chapter also examines the sub-concepts of taking attitude into account, having knowledge of staff, making management work, approaches to increased productivity, corporate philosophy, etc.

Book Evaluation

Brown deserves commendation for his efforts in the book. According to Dennis Waitley, author of Seeds of Greatness, as well as The Double Win, “Steve Brown has hit the bull’s eye … in the flood of ‘success books’, this is a standout in style, practical horse-sense, and applications … Brown gives us a needed dose of preventive management medicine.”

What’s more, the language employed is simple and embroidered with good word-ordering. The author is also very creative in the way he handles his concepts, and this makes everything interesting. He uses classical allusions to achieve analytical reinforcement and ensure detailed understanding. Brown also uses graphics to provide visual reinforcement of understanding. He includes a Fortune Action Contract segment, an exercise section at the end of every chapter to arouse the reader’s active participation.

However, it would have been better for Fatal Errors 2 and 10 to be harmonised for notional compactness.

Do you aspire to know the fatal errors that managers make and be a great manager? Then you need a compendium of irresistible management tips.


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