Today, I spoke to Alan Murray, who is the deputy managing editor and executive editor, online, for The Wall Street Journal, and author of “The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management: Lasting Lessons from the Best Leadership Minds of Our Time.” In this interview, Alan talks about how he got started in his career, lists his top management tips, and more.
I started working at the Wall Street Journal in 1983. At the time it seemed natural. I’d been a journalist since I was nine years old – started and ran a nickel sheet neighborhood newspaper – and I’d developed a deep interest in economics during the dysfunction of the 1970s. Wall Street Journal seemed the right place for me to be.
When writing The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management, how did you decide what to include and what not to?
I’ve been a manager in some form most of my life, so I have my own ideas about what works and what doesn’t. I also called on the members of our Wall Street Journal CEO Council, a group of 100 CEOs of the largest companies in the world, to get their guidance on some of the key issues. And I relied on the great reporting and editing staff of the Wall Street Journal.
What are the top 3 tips that all managers should abide by?
Hmm. It was hard enough to boil 100 years of management knowledge down to 200 pages. Now you want me to do it in three tips. But here it goes:
- As a manager, you’re not automatically “in charge.” You have to show you can lead by giving those you want to follow you good reason to do so. In today’s knowledge economy, good managers must also be good leaders.
- A culture of candor is critical. You need to make sure people are completely candid about the challenges you face, and are rewarded for their candor. It’s amazing the self-deception that goes on in most organizations.
- A culture of action is also critical. Inertia is a powerful force. The most important part of manager’s job is to make clear that inertia isn’t tolerated, that bold action and risk taking are encouraged, and that the mistakes that inevitably result aren’t overly punished.
What new-age management advice did you capture in your book?
New-age? Not sure what that is. But I do believe this: the pace of change in business is rapidly accelerating, and any top-down management styles that don’t empower workers or promote constant innovation will fail.
Who are your picks for top management gurus?
Well, if you can only read one book about management, it should be The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management. That’s why I wrote it – it’s for people who only have time to read one book. But Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma” is probably the single most important management book of recent years.
Alan Murray is deputy managing editor and executive editor, online, for The Wall Street Journal. He has editorial responsibility for the Journal’s web sites, including WSJ.com and MarketWatch and the Journal’s books, conferences and television operations. Previously, he served as CNBC’s Washington, D.C., bureau chief and was co-host of “Capital Report with Alan Murray and Gloria Borger.” Mr. Murray joined The Wall Street Journal in 1983, as a reporter covering economic policy. He was named Washington deputy bureau chief in January 1992 and became bureau chief in September 1993. During his tenure as bureau chief, the Washington bureau won three Pulitzer Prizes, as well as many other awards. Mr. Murray is the author of three best-selling books: “Revolt in the Boardroom,” “The Wealth of Choices,” and “Showdown at Gucci Gulch.” His latest book is called “The Wall Street Journal Essential Guide to Management: Lasting Lessons from the Best Leadership Minds of Our Time.”