Before even cracking the binding on The Invisible Spotlight: What Managers Can’t Hide my first thought was, “Oh sure, another heady management self-help book written by those who haven’t a clue.”
However, much to my surprise what I found was an insightful look into the psyche of not only the manager, but also the employee and how they view managers’ actions. Craig Wasserman and Doug Katz have put together a treasure trove of relevant, specific and actionable observations, resulting in many aha moments from cover to cover.
The Invisible Spotlight is an exceptionally easy read. I was able to read the 150-page paperback during one flight from Fort Worth to Washington, D.C. Each chapter focuses on specific behaviors managers engage in, and how those we supervise perceive our actions. The book opens with a typical dinner conversation an employee has with his or her spouse about what their manager did that day and how those actions impacted the employee. This approach is carried in large measure throughout the book and is an excellent way to illustrate something we as managers rarely consider.
The authors routinely use the term “Invisible Spotlight” to reference the focus our employees have on every aspect of our leadership style. Not only what we do, but more importantly how we do it.
Scenarios are presented throughout the book depicting the many missteps leaders often make when trying to “improve” people or organizations. In one such case, a superficial manager tries to force a “caring culture” on employees, though she rarely demonstrates a caring demeanor toward her own employees. In another, a well-intentioned manager improves the operational and financial performance of a trucking company division at the deep personal expense of those around him. In both cases, the authors demonstrate how the manager often ends up as the person most detrimentally impacted by their actions.
As these scenarios played out on the page, I found myself thinking this book could also be subtitled “The Funhouse Mirror,” for how it forces you to look in the proverbial mirror at your past and, more importantly, future actions, both on and off the job. The image you see in the funhouse mirror is usually quite different than how you might normally see yourself.
I highly recommend this book. And trust me—your employees want you to read this book! Like me, you’ll identify with many of the characters and learn from Wasserman and Katz’s expert guidance how to make the spotlight work for you and your employees.
Learn more about The Invisible Spotlight: What Managers Can’t Hide.
Matt Zavadsky, MS-HSA, EMT, is director of public affairs for MedStar EMS, the public utility model system in Fort Worth and 14 surrounding cities in North Texas. He holds a master’s degree in Health Service Administration and has 30 years’ experience in EMS, including volunteer, fire-based, public and private-sector EMS agencies. He is a former paramedic and has managed private sector ambulance services in four states, as well as serving as a regulator. Matt is a frequent speaker at national conferences and has done consulting on numerous EMS issues, specializing in high-performance system operations, public/media relations, public policy, employee recruitment and retention, data analysis, costing strategies and EMS research. He has served as chair of the American Ambulance Association's Industry Image Committee and as a member of its Professional Standards, Strategic Development and Management Training Institute Committees. He is adjunct faculty for the University of Central Florida’s College of Health and Public Affairs, teaching courses in healthcare Economics and policy, healthcare finance, ethics, managed care and U.S. healthcare systems.