I guess we can blame last year's dean search for my sometime obsession with management books, but this weekend I read another one: Stephen Young's Micromessaging: Why Great Leadership is Beyond Words.
This is a relatively quick and easy read and it deals with the largely non-verbal aspects of communication that often get in the way of effective messages being sent and received between co-workers.
While much of the book seems like common sense, it's a good idea to occasionally think about non-verbal aspects of communication and how they get in the way of effective management and teamwork. Some of the more salient take-aways for me in terms of law school hiring and management were:
1/ Young's suggestion that in the case of diversity hiring and retention, we have moved from an era of "macro-inequities" which are pretty obvious and blatant forms of discrimination in the workplace to "micro-inequities" that may disproportionately affect women and minorities in the workplace and which are much more subtle and difficult to deal with than blatant sexism or racism.
2/ Young's assertion that some of the more intellectual and academically minded amongst us are the least effective at being aware of subtle non-verbal communications cues that may belie the verbal messages we are sending to each other.
3/ The idea that the most effective managers actually communicate differently with different people to bring the best out of everyone. This makes me wonder whether those of us interviewing deans over the years should be asking standard questions like: "What is your management style?" Might it be better to ask something like: "How do you go about bringing the best performance out of different staff/faculty?"