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The book, Love and Profit: the Art of Caring Leadership by James A. Autry, arrived within a few days. Inside the fly cover was a comment by John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene, authors of Megatrends 2000. “The most caring (loving) book about management we have ever read. A real breakthrough. We predict it will become a classic.”

“Wow! That’s pretty heavy stuff,” I thought. Can any book on management live up to that statement? I had my doubts … After all, I had just retired as CEO of one of Fortune’s top 100 companies in America. I had spent 41 years with the same company–38 of those years in management positions. So I was really anxious to see what great insights Mr. Autry was going to share with the world.

I read the introduction … “Good management is largely a matter of love–call it caring, because proper management involves caring for people.” Yes, that’s good. It makes sense, but you can’t be a pussycat. Good managers have to make tough decisions, most often affecting people. Are we going to get some kind of Leo Buscaglia grabbing and hugging employees? Mr. Autry dispels that fear two pages later when he says, “I am not some sort of Leo Buscaglia gone mad in the corporate marketplace.” Indeed, Mr. Autry turns out to be a manager who has been there–he knows that only people can make a manager successful. It all comes down to the people we have working for us. How do we inspire them? How do we delegate? How do we punish, reward, fire, build trust, loyalty? Those of us who have spent our careers managing know that all it takes is common sense and consistently good judgment. And how do most of us get the job done? By trial and error. You get there by making a lot of mistakes along the way.

I found myself wishing that I had Mr. Autry’s book at my elbow during my management years. A rereading every six months might have helped me improve my score of successes versus failures.

If you are striving to be a good manager, I urge you to read Love and Profit. You’ll feel good about what you are doing and get some solid reinforcement on the values that you believe are important.

Don’t forget to read the poetry–some golden nuggets there!