consiglieri-book

Book Review: Consiglieri by Karl Ronn and Bob Johansen © 2014

Rating: 7 out of 10
Reviewed by Allan Schweyer, October 2014
 
This entertaining read takes you on a journey with famous leaders and their “No. 2s”. From Ancient Greece and Rome, through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and on to today’s latest plotting and scheming in politics and government. How did Caesar alienate his deputies so much that they murdered him? Who is the shadowy constant in President Obama’s inner circle and why? Few stop to consider the men and women right behind the big boss, usually on the edges of the frame and slightly out of focus, but yielding immense influence. One or more great consiglieri can mean the difference between success and failure as a head honcho. This book explains how to find great deputies; or, if you prefer to “lead from the shadows”, how to pair up with the right boss.

“The average occupancy of the corner office with the three windows stretches now to no more than six years. Barely time to see the stock options mature, let alone the pot plant reach its potential.” – Richard Hytner

Author Richard Hytner delivers an engaging and often humorous entertainment. Yet the vernacular is thick at times. Frequent and obscure sports examples that assume prior knowledge of people and events will make it difficult to follow for some and irritating for others. The subject is more original than most books on leadership, but not immensely important to the genre. Hytner tells us that leaders and their seconds-in-command must click for the good of the organization, he shares countless examples of big bosses who benefit or suffer at the hands of their quieter, but equally (or more) intelligent advisors. His advice might aid you in thinking about the kind of leader you want to be now or next, and in deciding who to hire as your deputy or who to choose as your boss. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a second-in-command or any deputy seeking a good leader to support – it might present ideas or cautions you haven’t considered. For the rest, it will serve as a nice distraction, certainly good for some laughs.