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Down-To-Earth Ideas From the Top

A book written by a man who is proclaimed in the subtitle of his book as "the world's #1 executive coach" might seem to have little relevance to any but those who are, or who plan to become, executives.

A book written by a man who is proclaimed in the subtitle of his book as "the world's #1 executive coach" might seem to have little relevance to any but those who are, or who plan to become, executives. Yet Graham Alexander, senior vp, the Hudson Highland Center for High Performance, makes observations in Tales from the Top (Nelson Publishing; $22.99) that have relevance and resonance for those of us at lowlier levels within organizations. In fact, one of them might actually make you feel better if you're not at the lofty peak: "you might be surprised to know that relatively few leaders have planned out their careers. For most, life happened and carried them along. So they are sacrificing their lives for careers that don't necessarily meet many of their wants and needs." Imagine. At the top. Taking the slings and arrows. And it truly is outrageous fortune. But let's leave them to, well, themselves. Back to the rest of us...

Alexander has the book full of various "Million Dollar Questions," "Leadership Notes," "Wake-Up Calls," and "Action Items." As in, respectively, "Would you rather have the results you want in life, or the reasons you haven't got them?," "Leaders who do less but do more of the right things are more effective," "Being clear on what you are not going to do is as important as what you are going to do," and "Every day ask yourself: What are the three things that only I can do that will add the most to the business? What are the three things that would improve my personal life?" Personal life? Yes. Because that's why you're working, something that, apparently, many of those ineffective CEOs don't get. Alexander's book may have you rolling your eyes at times. But it will also help you open your eyes to some things that may not necessarily occur to you. And therein lies the bona-fide CEO-class value.-GSV