Directing employees is harder than it looks, since past performance isn't really an indication of how a leader will do in the future. As the authors say, "The half-life of knowledge grows ever shorter in most professions, requiring even high performers to unlearn what they know and do."
The authors--a university professor and two heads of consulting firms--divide leadership priorities into four areas: employees, organization, customers, and investors. A company head generally has to focus on one responsibility over the other three, but can't get away with ignoring any of them for very long. They explain each of these four priorities in depth--noting, for example, that keeping employees committed and productive means "mass customizing" the workplace to fit individual employees' needs while keeping everyone working toward the same goal. That customization may require adjustments unheard-of a few years ago--allowing an employee to work from home in a different city, for example--but pays off in the retention of valuable human assets that would otherwise take their training, experience, energy, and creativity to other companies, possibly competitors.
People who already have leadership positions in their companies can certainly find a lot of important information, but the book may be even more valuable to those who want to move into management roles. It certainly shows what challenges to expect. --Lou Schuler