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May 24, 2004

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects: How to Grow a Backbone

By: Jack @ 8:57 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

How to Grow a Backbone: 10 Strategies for Gaining Power and Influence at Work by Susan A. Marshall
Format: Paperback, 197pp, $14.95
It is always fun to read a book that you can instantly apply to your everyday life and work. Since I started "Jack Covert Selects", I have been reading many more business books than I had in the past. While most of these books have an application to your work life, some can be very dense and you have to dig to get at the nuggets of value. Not this book: the nuggets are right on the surface.
To start, Marshall defines "backbone"-the kind that will bring you greater power and influence at work-as being composed of three segments: competence, confidence, and risk-taking. You need to acquire these traits to have backbone. She then picks ten help tools to assist in your search for a backbone, and has a chapter on each tool. At the end of each chapter are exercises relevant to the past chapter covering the three important segments.
The real beauty of this book is her simple, instantly-applicable suggestions. She covers meetings, note taking, asking the right question, stating your opinion without fear, learning who has the power-and who doesn't. One of her subchapters in the power chapter talks about "suits and shirtsleeves." Shirtsleeves are doers, suits are talkers. She suggests studying the shirtsleeves to see how things are done.
Other notable strengths? Marshall incorporates stories of regular people, and then details how and why each have succeeded or failed. Plus, she references some very important classic business books, such as: The Fifth Discipline and Leading Change.
While you need to know that this book will never be taught at Harvard or Wharton, I have found a load of valuable, quickly applicable material in this book.