Highwire Management

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Management consultant Gene Calvert has given the modern manager another “self-help” book for improving on-the-job performance. In HIGHWIRE MANAGEMENT, Calvert’s aim is to help individuals overcome the notion that risk-taking is bad. He wants to break down the stereotype that people rise to the top of corporations by following all the rules and avoiding any risks. He believes that hard work alone is not sufficient to assure success; if one wants to gain recognition (and promotion), risk-taking is essential. In fact, as he points out, risk-taking is unavoidable: Even choosing not to take a risk involves some risk. What Calvert advocates is risk-taking in moderation.

Because he wishes to reach a large audience, Calvert is predictably vague and generic in the advice he offers. He espouses a number of precepts and offers some commonsense tips which should be applicable in virtually any managerial situation where an individual may find it necessary to decide to take an action involving risk. He promotes the adoption of a healthy balance between the use of hard data and “gut feeling” when making decisions. He also advocates sharing risks by involving colleagues, supervisors, and subordinates in the decision-making process. Doing so does not absolve one of personal responsibility, but it does make life sweeter when success follows risk-taking and more palatable should the risk not pay off.

Of particular value are the various self-assessment tools he provides so readers can “score” themselves to see what level of tolerance they have for taking risks. He includes extensive information from current sources on risk-taking and decision-making, and his bibliography is a valuable source for readers wishing to explore the topic more fully.