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Executive Warfare: 10 Rules of Engagement for Winning Your War for Success [Hardcover]

David D'Alessandro
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

June 10 2008

The New York Times Bestseller

WIN THE WAR FOR SUCCESS

It's not enough anymore to be smart, hard-working, and able to show results; At this level, everybody is smart, hard-working, and able to show results. Now it's a game for grown-ups. What really sets you apart is the relationships you build with people of influence. These people can include your peers, your employees, your organization's directors, reporters, vendors, and regulators-as well as the people directly above you in the organizational hierarchy.

In senior management, you no longer answer to just one boss. There is now a hazy matrix of hundreds of bosses both inside and outside the office, any one of whom can stop you cold or give you a tremendous push forward. Executive Warfare offers concrete advice for handling all of them, including

  • YOUR PEERS: They are the most valuable of allies or the most dangerous of enemies
  • THE CEO: Her office is often where the real fairy dust is kept. Make sure you have a good relationship here
  • THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS: They won't judge you fairly if all they see of you is your PowerPoints
  • YOUR DIRECT REPORTS: They are your vital organs, so treat them accordingly. And if you find a blood clot among them-excise that person before he kills you
  • YOUR RIVALS: It's not always wise to shoot at them, but if you do, do not shoot to wound

In his bestsellers Brand Warfare and Career Warfare, author David D'Alessandro offered sharp advice for building a brand and building a career. Now Executive Warfare is the advanced class for the truly ambitious. Learn what it takes to rise to the top-and to do the even harder thing, which is survive there.


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From the Back Cover

Raise Your Rank on the Business Battlefield
With the New York Times Advice Bestseller!

“D'Alessandro is that refreshing rarity: a businessman who tells it like it is.”
-Chicago Sun-Times

“When it comes to straight talk about what it really takes to thrive in business, no one does it better today than bestselling author David D'Alessandro. Executive Warfare is the most compelling installment of his Warfare trilogy.”
-James M. Citrin, bestselling author, The Dynamic Path and Senior Director, Spencer Stuart

Executive Warfare is a rare find…a management skills book which provides excellent advice and is a good read at the same time. David looks at what it takes to climb the corporate ladder and tells it like it really is: the good, the bad and the ugly.”
-Judith A. McHale, former president and CEO of Discovery Communications

About the Author

David F. D’Alessandro, former chairman and CEO of John Hancock Financial Services, serves as an advisor and guest speaker on business issues and branding strategies, as well as topics related to professional and career development. He is sought after as a speaker for corporations and universities, including industry and governmental conventions. In addition, he is a guest columnist for the Boston Globe, and a guest commentator on CNBC on business and social issues. He is the bestselling author of Brand Warfare and Career Warfare.

Michele Owens is a former speechwriter for New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Massachusetts Governor William Weld. Ms. Owens has worked with David D’Alessandro on a variety of projects since 1996.


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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to win a "combat game for grown-ups" July 16 2008
By Robert Morris HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
With Michele Owens, David D'Alessandro has written another book whose title and subtitle suggest direct correlations between the battlefield and the business world. What sets this book apart from almost all of the others is the fact that he includes no references to Sun Tzu's The Art of War nor to Carl von Clauswitz' On War. I also appreciate the fact that D'Alessandro establishes, develops, and then sustains a direct rapport with his reader. The informal, indeed conversational tone is precisely appropriate and brilliantly sustained. For example: "The single greatest reason why otherwise talented people get stuck in mid-career is because they believe that the same rules that applied for the first part of their careers still apply. They don't. You have to master a much subtler set of rules. You'll need to learn how to acquire the global perspective your peers lack, when and how to deliver bad news, when to take a shot at your rivals and when to be gracious, and, most important, how to handle the many new influences on your [career] trajectory...Intelligence, imagination, and cunning are all required here - but not underhandedness...I don't believe you need to be devious to succeed. In fact, I think being excessively political is a mistake."

D'Alessandro focuses on the adjustments any executive must make as she or he assumes increased responsibilities during an incremental ascension to higher levels of management. His observations and suggestions indicate that he is an empiricist in that he is especially alert to context as well as to significant details, a pragmatist who prefers to focus on what does - and does not - work and has little, if any patience with "woulda/coulda/shoulda," and he has a unique ability to recognize what is most important among whatever options may be available.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to win a "combat game for grown-ups" July 16 2008
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
With Michele Owens, David D'Alessandro has written another book whose title and subtitle suggest direct correlations between the battlefield and the business world. What sets this book apart from almost all of the others is the fact that he includes no references to Sun Tzu's The Art of War nor to Carl von Clauswitz' On War. I also appreciate the fact that D'Alessandro establishes, develops, and then sustains a direct rapport with his reader. The informal, indeed conversational tone is precisely appropriate and brilliantly sustained. For example: "The single greatest reason why otherwise talented people get stuck in mid-career is because they believe that the same rules that applied for the first part of their careers still apply. They don't. You have to master a much subtler set of rules. You'll need to learn how to acquire the global perspective your peers lack, when and how to deliver bad news, when to take a shot at your rivals and when to be gracious, and, most important, how to handle the many new influences on your [career] trajectory...Intelligence, imagination, and cunning are all required here - but not underhandedness...I don't believe you need to be devious to succeed. In fact, I think being excessively political is a mistake."

D'Alessandro focuses on the adjustments any executive must make as she or he assumes increased responsibilities during an incremental ascension to higher levels of management. His observations and suggestions indicate that he is an empiricist in that he is especially alert to context as well as to significant details, a pragmatist who prefers to focus on what does - and does not - work and has little, if any patience with "woulda/coulda/shoulda," and he has a unique ability to recognize what is most important among whatever options may be available. He seems determined to share what he has learned so that his reader will be able to balance impeccable integrity with "street smarts." His advice concerns do's and don'ts of when responding to challenges such as these:

Managing increasing complexity at various stages throughout a "career trajectory"

Excerpt: "It's not just that the pyramid narrows and the competition toughens as you rise. It's that the game changes fundamentally...[and, to repeat] In my experience, the single greatest reason why otherwise talented people get stuck in midcareer is because they believe that the same rules that applied for the first part of their career. They don't. You now have to master a much subtler set of rules."

Dealing with rivals

Excerpt: "It is far better to be a steady incremental player who wins, in the end, by impressing people all along the way than to be the kind of hothead who tries to force a quick culmination." Years ago, someone whose name I do not recall invoked a metaphor to make the same point: "Be a Bunsen burner, not a sparkler."

Building a team

Excerpt: "If you are not picking your own team, you are going to be handed some turkeys. When one of those turkeys screws up, you own the turkey...Having a reputation as somebody who not only can build a strong team but also can bring in people who can build strong teams is extraordinarily valuable...The most valuable employees are those willing to rain on your parade when it's necessary - willing even to rain on a parade they organized themselves."

Earning the trust of direct-reports

Excerpt: "Most of your rivals will treat the people who work for them like children. You can win incredible loyalty simply by treating people like adults who can accept the truth. You will also build a team that way because your key people now all share the same information and can work together to act on it...It's important that your employees see that you are [decisive but] not heartless."

Rising into the senior ranks

Excerpt: "You must become a person of presence." How? "First of all, you have to offer something substantial and not just self-importance. Second, "you have to be true to yourself and the things you believe in." And thirdly, "is perspective - and you cannot develop perspective if your entire life revolves around your job...To get to the top - and stay there - you need to be able to lead human brings. And, the only way to learn how to lead is to live."

I realize that these brief excerpts are taken out of context and that D'Alessandro's key points may seem simplistic. They are offered merely to suggest the thrust of his insights and the flavor of his prose. Moreover, I hasten to add that his observations and suggestions are fully developed within an extended narrative that is both cohesive and comprehensive. Also, although much of his advice concerns challenges that C-level executives face, those who do not as yet occupy a position at that level will nonetheless derive a substantial benefit from understanding those challenges because (a) such understanding will improve their relationships with C-level executives in their own organization, and (b) they can prepare themselves adequately for a time when they most respond to them.

David D'Alessandro begins his book with a disclaimer that also serves as an appropriate conclusion to this review: "If you are not interested in success, put down this book and buy a latte."
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Absolute Authority for the Ambitious and Success Oriented July 10 2008
By Abram B - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Executive Warfare provides a valuable insight into what it takes to make it to the top, and ways to survive the onslaughts along the way. The way to the top is filled with pitfalls and dangerous routes, and this book teaches us to avoid or survive them to fight another day. It teaches us which battles are worth fighting and winning to ensure that we win the war.

The key item here is to remember that the rules we know to get to where we are are no longer applicable when we are aiming for the corner office. The same skillsets, aptitudes, and mindsets must now be replaced and re-trained toward the new goal. It's focusing on making sure that we take the right steps, such as:

1. Making a win-win business deal with our bosses along the way.
2. Taking appropriate & calculated risks.
3. Winning enough support from our peers and subordinates.
4. Mastering our behaviors, thoughts, and emotions, since the stakes are now high and our competitors will do anything in their power to win.
5. Knowing our strengths and making sure that we find the right place at the right time to improve our chances to shine the brightest.

As indicated in the introduction of this book, if you are already happy with your current position, then there are other readings available. On the other hand, if you're interested in getting to the next level, and eventually to be the one in charge, this book is a must have.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars headed for the top July 11 2008
By V wolfe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have enjoyed all of D'Alessdandro's books but this offering is surely the best. It's filled with insights into the people who can make or break us as we make we our way through the office jungle. D'Alessandro masterfully turns the office landscape into a chess board and gives you the other side's moves in advance. It's full of LOL tales of careers gone wrong before a single napkin is unfurled at the ubiquitous business lunch and valuable after the game analysis of every situation you've ever encountered and later found yourself left dazed wondering what happened.

D'Alessandro's message isn't that the office is a battlefield to vanquish enemies and conqour the masses. Rather, it's a lesson in being human and undertsanding the complexities and social dynamics of the people you work with and for; as well as the ones you hope to replace.

This book does'nt attepmt to glorify or breed a culture of machiavellian manipulation. Executive Warfare synthesizes and assimilates all of lifes truisms, every thing you've known all along but just didn't understand why it mattered or how to use it in your favor.

Well worth the time especially in today's climate. Knowing the secrets to help you stand out from your peers, demonstrate leadership and add value could be your insurance policy against a pink slip.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informed, Practical, And About Half The Total Solution July 15 2008
By Bill Gossett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I would put this in my top five favorite books for management just behind Hubbard's How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of "Intangibles" in Business and Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.

D'Alessandro has written a sort of The Art Of War for upper management. Everything I read in his book is something I can directly relate to my own experiences and probably would have been good advice at the time. Executive Warfare is a little touchy-feely after a read like Hubbard's How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of "Intangibles" in Business, but Hubbard would probably even agree that, at some point, it's not all about measurements and advanced methods. No matter how competent and sophisticated a manager method's are, some issues are about raw survival. While it might seem there are many books on a similar topic, only D'Alessandro seems to capture all the key issues of avoiding corporate exile and the slow death of a manager.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to rise to the top, read this book July 25 2008
By Mr. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you want to rise to the top of your organization, read this book. Many times.

The ideas in this book (if properly executed) are worth $1 million to $100 million (or may be more).

Also recommended: Career Warfare.

I would be happy to pay good money for any work by D'Alessandro and Michele Owens. I hope the next book by the duo is about how to hunt (for business).

In the book David D'Alessandro thanks his father and his father's namesake, which I thought was most interesting.
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