By: Alan Cohen
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: November 7, 2023
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: October 6, 2023
Writer Alan J. Cohen explores the qualities that constitute good management with his professional prowess and acute powers of observation imbuing his narrative with many lively, credible examples in Easy in Harness: A Productive Approach to Hiring a Good Manager.
Cohen plunges in from page one, with short tales of people who have been moved to retire, change professions, and in some cases, endure, in a situation involving poor management, which he characterizes as “autocratic.” This autocratic management style is distinct from positive, creative management denoted as “entrepreneurial.” Monarchs and dictators are autocrats; those who must obey them do so with limited, if any, satisfaction. By contrast, when working for a person of entrepreneurial spirit, willing to hear and involve workers at all levels in decision-making and reward-reaping, all employees can experience fulfillment and pride. An autocratic manager takes little interest in the character of her/his employees, mainly seeking personal recognition and advancement. The entrepreneur willingly takes on the challenge of enhancing and advancing the corporation with input from others.
Cohen has constructed a fascinating, lengthy Case Study chapter in which he contrasts and compares the autocratic and entrepreneurial styles as seen month by month in a large pharmaceutical company, illustrating the step-by-step development of these two vastly different approaches. He also presents a view of management styles as they have affected a favorite topic: ice cream. He recalls his many satisfying experiences in various hometowns, with successful ice cream “stands,” where even standing in line, talking to friends, was a plus. He then highlights the efforts and successes of entrepreneurs Ben and Jerry, who started small and ultimately spread their tasty products across the nation, appearing to Cohen to embody the true entrepreneurial model.
Cohen, a primary care physician, teacher, and school administrator as well as a lifelong, widely published writer, here presents material diligently gathered and well-organized to bring his central theme to new light. One quality that will satisfy his readers is his persistent use of female leadership examples, on both sides of the scale he has created, which will make his stated thesis even more attractive to a wide readership. Cohen propounds his dynamic thesis generously, with credible data and a wish to open readers’ minds to the possibility of expanding and ameliorating the management issues raised. He will doubtless succeed in that intention, as his book provides a practical study for individual improvement and an intelligent focus for workshops and discussion among those seeking new horizons in the workplace.
Quill says: In Easy in Harness: A Productive Approach to Hiring a Good Manager, Cohen’s exploration of two radically different management styles is both educational and entertaining and is clearly based on long career experience providing salient examples and positive motivation for further, pragmatic thinking and planning.