What Keeps Leaders up at Night: Recognizing and Resolving Your Most Troubling Management Issues


pmwj16-nov2013-rojak-IMAGE 1 BOOK COVERBook Title:  What Keeps Leaders up at Night: Recognizing and Resolving Your Most Troubling Management Issues
Author:  Nicole Lipkin
Publisher:  AMACOM
List Price:   US$21.95
Format:  hard cover; 237 pages
Publication Date:   2013
ISBN: 9780814432112
Reviewer:      Stephen Rojak, PMP
Review Date:              Sept 2013

Introduction to the Book

How do we get better at being leaders? How do we keep from making the same mistakes over and over? How do we guard against common problems that cause groups to lose cohesion, members to lose engagement and leaders to lose their way? Nicole Lipkin, a psychology consultant and coach, takes on the issues that leaders frequently encounter despite our best intentions.

Overview of Book’s Structure

Each chapter addresses a problem that leaders encounter, such as “Why don’t people heed my sage advice?” or “Why do good teams go bad?” Within each chapter, Dr. Lipkin breaks down the problem diagnostically in search of potential root causes.

For example, the first chapter tackles the question, “I’m a good boss. So why do I sometimes act like a bad one?” The author advances three potential common themes that she has found to occur within such situations: The leader is either too busy to win, too proud to see or too afraid to lose. In the section discussing being too proud to see, she explains confirmation bias, illustrates how it can undermine a well-meaning leader and offers techniques to defend against it.

Highlights: What’s New in this Book?

Dr. Lipkin takes the position that even the best leader will have leadership situations that go wrong. She offers an introspective approach to diagnose situations, identify common themes and develop habits to counter them.

One chapter discusses the question, “Why do people resist change?” The subject of resistance to change is too comprehensive to fully cover in one chapter of a book. Yet I found the author made a very thoughtful contribution to the subject by suggesting that leaders examine how they and their groups frame their responses to challenges in the light of status quo bias. The more emotionally charged your description of the situation is, the more it indicates the presence of status quo bias. The author’s recommendation is to step back and frame the situation in less value-laden terms and examine how such framing might lead you to a different response. 


To read entire Book Review (click here)

About the Reviewer

flag-usastephen-rojakStephen Rojak, PMP 

Stephen Rojak is an experienced software developer and manager, with experience in the manufacturing, retail, marketing services, digital media and computer software industries. He is also an economist and historian. Email: [email protected] 

Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of cooperation between the publisher, PM World Inc and the Dallas Chapter of the Project Management Institute (www.pmidallas.org). Publishers provide books to PM World, books are delivered to the PMI Dallas Chapter where they are given to chapter members who commit to providing a book review in a standard format; the reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library.  Since PMI Dallas Chapter members are generally mid-career professionals, they represent the intended audience for most PM books.  If you are an author or publisher of a book related to program or project management and would like the book reviewed through this program, please contact [email protected].