Fit In, Stand Out: The Key to Leadership Effectiveness in Business and Life
By Blythe J. McGarvie
McGraw-Hill, 2005, $21.95
Book Review¿Blythe McGarvie has done well in the corporate world, first as a CFO for several large companies and now as a corporate director for Accenture and The Pepsi Bottling Group, among others. She believes unabashedly in corporations—their moneymaking mission, their ability to do good and the opportunities they afford for career success. Fit In, Stand Out: The Key to Leadership Effectiveness in Business and Life is a career guide to the corporate world.
Business success boils down to two actions, says McGarvie: fitting in and standing out.
Fitting in means finding your way in the culture and structure of a company. People who are new to an organization or a position should focus on showing colleagues that they can conform to company norms and are trustworthy and credible.
Standing out means separating yourself from the corporate crowd. Doing outstanding work is not enough—you must seek opportunities to be noticed. While it is important for employees to demonstrate their ability to fit in at the start of a job, the ambitious ones must then market themselves to move upward.
The lengthiest part of McGarvie’s book is devoted to six characteristics that people need in order to advance.
These characteristics include financial acuity—the development of deep financial comprehension—which McGarvie calls the most important catalyst for gaining a leadership position; integrity, an attribute that’s important in an era of public mistrust in corporations; and global citizenship, necessary for success in a global world.
McGarvie dresses up her framework as systems thinking, which is a theoretical approach to analyzing how interactions between parts of an entity affect overall performance. That’s a stretch in this case—and an unnecessary one. The true value of this book is in its practical advice and insights based on McGarvie’s experience.