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Winning now, winning latter – a book review

by Mark P. McDonald  |  July 27, 2020  |  Submit a Comment

A rare view into the way an accomplished leader things about business issues and situations we all face. David Cote is the former CEO at Honeywell. This book represents both his story and his philosophy for corporate and leadership success.  Winning Now, Winning Later is recommended for any manager or executive interested in understanding how people and organizations succeed.

Succeeding in delivery both short term and long-term results is the theme of the book.  Notice I did not say ‘balancing’, for Cote the two are a both and situation not an either or.  Cote advocates realizing that balance through adopting a more intellectual mind-set for leadership and running a business.

This book is unique in this perspective and that perspective is critical for future success.  By that I mean, Cote shows that leadership is less about aspirational speeches, bold moves, charisma and flashy brands.  No, it is about doing the hard work, the brain work, the interpersonal work that is necessary to get results.  This is great news as it means that anyone can be a true leader, they are made not born.   This is not a ‘it worked and we were right, until it didn’t and we were wrong’ kind of book.

The intellectual mind-set approach makes this book practical, actionable and enlightening to the reader.  Something that is more than worth your time reading and thinking about.  The central premise of an intellectual mindset applied to delivering short- and long-term results entails:

  • Managing the business today to produce results that please shareholders, but not delivering performance at all costs, rather
  • Investing in the future will take resources in the form of earnings etc., that are generated by the short-term results, while
  • Long term performance is creates the future growth opportunities for the company that garner both future revenue and future market value enhancement.

The intellectual mind-set comes from applying the following general practices to your specific situation:

  • Cultivate a mind-set of analytic rigor and attention to detail. Leaders demand data of themselves and others. They expect the information to be an input to making assessments of the situation, recommendations on possible solutions and demonstration of results.
  • Become a scholar of your company, industry and business, be genuinely curious about the company, energetic about it and take the time to ask questions, listen and understand before you act.
  • Engage the entire organization in thinking about the business. A leader raises the quality of individual thinking and group discussions. Leaders help everyone get clear on what is going on and helps them concentrate on what to do next.

The book is all about Cote’s experiences in his career about applying these ideas.  The book talks about Cote and his success at Honeywell.  You will need to think past those passages to how these ideas might apply to your company and your situation.  If you do not, this book comes across as more of a personal memoir, which hides the value in its core ideas.

Cote does not present this as a formula or a process or a system that you follow blindly.  Rather these ideas come from his sharing his experience.  Yes, this is part intellectual and part biographic.  You will need to read through some personal experience, situational descriptions etc., but you will always get to good nuggets.

The book breaks down into ten chapters:

  1. Banish Intellectual Laziness
  2. Plan for Today and Tomorrow
  3. Resolve Serios Threats to the Business
  4. Focus on Process
  5. Build a High-Performance culture
  6. Get and Keep the Right Leaders – But Note Too Many of Them
  7. Go big on Growth
  8. Upgrade your Portfolio
  9. Take Control of the Downturns
  10. Manage the Leadership Transition

Each chapter is clearly written.  The early chapters are more autobiographical than the later ones.  Chapter 9 – Take Control of the Downturns is the best chapter and really worth the book all by itself.

I will not give away too much as the best value is for you to read, underline and think about Cote’s experience and approach to leadership.  Highly recommended as both enlightening, actionable and human in its approach to leadership.

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Category: book-review  leadership  

Mark McDonald
VP Analyst
12 years at Gartner
33 years IT Industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Fellow Emeritus in Gartner for General Managers Program. Read Full Bio




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