László Károlyi, an experienced business leader in Central Europe, regales his readers with advice and stories that illustrate lessons in management in his book Business Chameleon: A Practical Guide to Success for Managers.
The author arranges his work through the clever device of mirroring the four seasons. The book is divided into sections corresponding to autumn, winter, spring and summer. Explains Károlyi, “Autumn creates a new situation…In wintertime you gather your strength, make preparations, and nourish new ideas. Spring is the time of doing, of execution… Summer is the time of harvesting, of gathering the crop.”
Within each of these four sections, the author presents 15 short chapters exploring business-related topics focusing on the challenges of management and leadership. The “Autumn” section, for example, offers subsections that include: “Change Your Opportunity,” “Goals Remain Even in the Ashes” “The Leader as a Gardener, “ and so on. Each of the four major sections ends with a story presented by a guest author.
Károlyi is a thoughtful man who demonstrates a command of the management literature and its concepts. However, the book suffers from a lack of focus. It fails to present a unifying theme or message. The individual anecdotes do not gel into an integrated viewpoint, and his conclusion doesn’t tie the loose ends together into a satisfying literary package.
Also, too many of his points are overly obvious. For example, Károlyi writes, “Team members have to be well-selected, and the right person must be placed in the right position. The manager has to set intelligent objectives, develop functioning programs, and inspire a motivated organization.” It seems that anyone in a position of leadership would already understand this.
Ultimately, readers are left craving deeper, more inventive material. While there are nuggets of good advice here, a straightforward biography of this businessman from the former Soviet Bloc might be more insightful than this uneven collection of anecdote and rumination.