Bringing Out the Best in People: How to Enjoy Helping Others Excel, by Alan Loy McGinnis (Augsburg, 1985, 191 pp.; $12.95, cloth; $3.95, paper). Reviewed by David Neff. Interview conducted by David Neff and Gregg Lewis.

The principles of motivation are nothing new, says Alan Loy McGinnis, author of Bringing Out the Best in People. When business leaders asked him for help in motivating employees, he chose not to rely on current research by cognitive psychologists. Instead, McGinnis ransacked the biographies of great leaders from Alexander the Great to Peter Ueberroth to discover what makes people perform.

Here are 12 rules he formulated from his reading and observation:

• Expect the best from the people you lead.

• Make a thorough study of the other person’s needs.

• Establish high standards for excellence.

• Create an environment where failure is not fatal.

• If they are going anywhere near where you want to go, climb on other people’s bandwagons.

• Employ models to encourage success.

• Recognize and applaud achievement.

• Employ a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement.

• Appeal sparingly to the competitive urge.

• Place a premium on collaboration.

• Build into the group an allowance for storms.

• Take steps to keep your own motivation high.

McGinnis expands on these principles in chapters broken into short, easy-to-read segments. Perhaps these short segments are designed for the busy executive: a noble goal. But the brevity of the segments and the boldness of their headings give the book a disjointed appearance. The book lacks the feeling of a cohesive argument developing ineluctably from point to point. It rather feels like a series of illustrations of equal ...

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