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Welcome to the Da Vinci Institute: School of Business Leadership

Book Review Insights: Alumnus Ross Saunders

Dr Heather Goode provides some insights into Da Vinci alumnus, Ross Sauders book, titled: This is not what I signed up for: A survival guide for first-time managers

Of course, no company intends to promote someone incompetent or to promote someone until they are incompetent in their new position (the Peter Principlei), nor is it any managers intention to promote someone likely to fail. At least not usually, and if it does happen, there’s a story to tell. The sad truth is, that being an accountant doesn’t actually prepare you to manage accountants. That being a good programmer doesn’t prepare you to manage programmers, projects or diverse multi-skilled teams. Similarly, no one works for promotion in order to fail in their new role. And yet, research conducted by CEB shows that 60 per cent of new managers fail within the first 24 months of their new position.

In today’s increasingly dynamic time, how can we support new managers, especially first-time managers, to succeed in their roles? Ross Saunders, who is an alumnus and past faculty member of The Da Vinci Institute, sought to engage with this question when he wrote “This is not what I signed up for”. Ross describes this book as “a survival guide for the new manager, detailing all the things they didn’t tell you when you were promoted into the role”. The website describes this book as:

“You’re a manager now. It’s everything you’ve worked for and you’re moving up the corporate ladder. You’ve proven yourself worthy with your remarkable technical skills and now you will be responsible for a team. The trouble is: technical skills are quite different from managing people.”

This book details Ross’s own practical experiences, accomplishments, and learnings in moving from being a subject matter expert to managing numerous global teams. In this book, there are practical approaches to assist in dealing with issues related to Communication and Listening, Time Management, Delegation, Performance Management, and Conflict – the building blocks of effective leadership. Instead, it is a light-hearted look at how to handle Communication and Listening, Time Management, Delegation, Performance Management, and Conflict – the building blocks of effective leadership. At the end of each section, there are some relevant further reading recommendations, making this a good first step. Ross describes himself as someone who is passionate about helping people through translating highly technical subjects into easy-to-understand concepts – the readability of his book confirms this. When we chatted to Ross about his book in a webinar at Da Vinci, the relevance of his book to a South African audience was confirmed by the engagement and questions asked. Ross is now busy with his second book, which will build on his knowledge of data security and POPI for small businesses.

There is no doubt that new managers are often thrown into the deep end to sink or swim. There is little doubt that many underestimate the craft, art, and science of being a good Managerial-Leader, while most employees think they can do a better job. And perhaps it can be agreed that the responsibility to train up and prepare new managers for their role can be shared between the companies that desperately need good new managers and the people who aspire to be those managers. This book is a resource for those who are new managers and those who want to support new managers. This book will also sharpen the thinking and practice of managers who hope to prevent problems and enable their teams to perform well.

This book is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Scribd and also from Ross Saunders directly at https://bit.ly/3dK2Ztk or https://bit.ly/3jFs78e.

(The reviewer received no monetary benefit from Ross Saunders to review this book, and this review is offered as a fellow DaVincian.)