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The Disciplined Leader: Keeping the Focus on What Really Matters

June 22, 2015


John Manning, President of Management Action Programs, helps leaders pinpoint the 20 percent of activities that will drive 80 percent of the results.

What do the best leaders have in common? Ask John Manning, president of Management Action Programs, Inc. (MAP), and he will tell you it's one thing—discipline. Manning should know. As head of one of the nation's top leadership development and management consulting organizations, he has done the research and discovered that it's Disciplined Leaders, those who consistently use the right mindset and behaviors to inspire and drive success, who stand apart as truly excellent. And that's the powerful message behind his new book, The Disciplined Leader: Keeping the Focus on What Really Matters.

Manning's book capitalizes on his own leadership experiences and the collective wisdom of MAP, a leading U.S. business consultancy that's helped tens of thousands of executives and organizations improve performance. More specifically, the book explains how the Disciplined Leader is one who identifies and focuses on the "Vital Few"—the 20 percent of activities that will drive 80 percent of the results.

According to Manning, the most important results are those tied to the organization's most precious asset—its people.

"There's a strong link between companies that are highly committed to investing in their people and a healthy financial return," says Manning, who served in several leadership roles for Fortune 500 companies, including director of operations for McKesson Water Products, Inc. "Yet, businesses chronically underinvest in the development and management of this critical asset. This book makes the case for why that investment is vital, tied to great outcomes, and rooted in accountability and activities that support the growth of you the leader, your people, and the organization as a whole."

The Disciplined Leader also provides useful, actionable tips for leaders to prioritize responsibilities, achieve a sharper focus on what really matters, and hit their goals. For example, the book discusses tactics such as how to create a "To-Stop" list for things that lack value relative to results, how to grow a motivated culture of transparency and trust, and how to exercise courage when making tough leadership decisions.

Advanced praise for The Disciplined Leader has been abundant.

Marshall Goldsmith, author of the global and New York Times bestseller What Got You Here Won't Get You There, stated: "Peter Drucker famously said, 'Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.' John Manning shows you exactly how to identify those right things and get them done as effectively as possible!"

Lloyd Lenson, CEO of CORT, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, wrote: "Make space on your bookshelf for The Disciplined Leader. John Manning shows any leader, whether CEO or small department manager, how to identify the Vital Few keys to success and hold people accountable, thereby delivering results. The principles and processes are straightforward and can be acted upon immediately."

Written with refreshing clarity, each lesson in The Disciplined Leader comes with hundreds of recommended tactics and practical "Take Action" tips. The chapters are self-contained, allowing readers to peruse in any order and come back to the ones that resonate with them.

For more information, including a sample chapter, details on MAP and Manning, book praise, press coverage, and purchasing information, visit


John Manning is the President of Management Action Programs, Inc. (MAP), a general management consulting firm based in Southern California. Since 1960, MAP has tapped its talent and expertise to help 170,000 leaders in over 15,000 organizations nationwide create breakthrough results. John has diverse experience in business leadership, having held executive positions in Fortune 500 companies in operations, marketing and sales. Formerly the Director of Operations for McKesson Water Products, Inc., he was also part of a leadership team that took the company national.

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