Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (3/07)
Where was this book when I became an Executive at age 26? The "Velvet Hammer: PowerHerful Leadership Lessons for Women Who Don't Golf" is the debut book for Elaine Allison. The author's approach is a straightforward approach where she uses real-life examples to get her point across. She addresses the one concept that is so often not discussed in management courses or training, the differences between men and women.
Allison begins the book by talking about two types of people, the ones who believe in continuous learning and everyone else. This book is directed toward the people who believe in continuous learning who are interested in a leadership role. She describes this person as having: a willingness to take charge, knowledge in your industry, field or organization, knowledge of effective leadership and support from a mentor or a sponsor.
I really like the author's approach to the book. She used her real-life experience starting as being one of the first female prison guards in one of Canada's all-male maximum security prisons. From there she has held various management positions and is now teaching people management skills. She outlines her techniques throughout the book with 25 Velvet Hammer techniques. This commonsense, easy-to-implement approach includes: setting expectations upfront, not getting angry at gender differences - learning to embrace them, celebrating your inherent female traits and utilizing them to their fullest where they aid you, understanding your style and knowing in what arenas it works, setting ground rules and gaining support upfront, tapping into existing expertise and knowledge and teaching and training upfront to name just a few. Another very useful tool included in the book by Allison is exercise and inventory sheets. They can either be copied from the book or downloaded from her website. You can go to the website without using the book, but these are only really effective if you read the in-depth information about them in the book.
Overall, I found "The Velvet Hammer" to be a valuable, affordable resource for a person thinking about a management position, new to management or who wants to hone their management skills.
Book received free of charge.