Being in chargeDid you ever notice that the people who say leaders are born, not made, are the sort of people who aren't leaders? That doesn't mean they're wrong - just suspect - but we would suggest that whether they're born or made, leaders can certainly be taught. The Leader's Tool Kit certainly thinks so, and offers a crash course in the subject, with a condensed style that makes it perfect for leaders who are busy leading.

The jury may be out on the whole nature-vs.-nurture question on leadership, but one thing we can stipulate is that leadership and management are two different things. Simply making someone a manager does not make them a leader, as countless sitcom episodes have proved. In fact, making them a manager doesn't really even make them a manager - it just gives them the title.

To learn the fundamentals of management (some of which do also apply to leadership), the new appointee could do far worse than to read The First-Time Manager, which has valuable tips on everything from hiring and firing, managing time, and stress, to performance appraisals, and building trust and confidence.

Price: The Leader's Tool Kit - $17.95; The First-Time Manager - $17.95.

Amacom Books

www.amacombooks.org

(800) 714-6395

No contendere Nolo

We've given up in the face of the Nolo juggernaut. This publisher of do-it-yourself legal and business books has simply overwhelmed us with a landslide of useful, in-depth titles on crucial topics. Instead of warning you about them, we're now going to suggest you give in - and get the most out of them that you can. Any of the four books mentioned below would be a good place to start.

The first covers something every CPA should be concerned about: buyout agreements. With significant numbers of partners slated to retire in the coming years, having one of these "pre-nups" may well be crucial to a firm's survival. Business Buyout Agreements takes you through it step by step, with worksheets and agreements on an accompanying CD. Even if you're not worried about it, you may have entrepreneurial clients who could benefit.

If you prefer to conduct your business indoors, then Negotiate the Best Lease for Your Business ought to be of use in making sure that you do so on the very best terms. The blatant lies of landlords notwithstanding, there is no such thing as a standard commercial lease, and the book shows you how to rewrite the boilerplate you're presented with to get the most flexibility at the lowest cost.

The next two books may seem the least interesting to accountants - one would hope that your clients aren't in position to want help with Credit Repair, or to need to know how to Solve Your Money Troubles. They may, however, be supporting good-for-nothing family members who do (and while they're supporting them, they can't be supporting you). Worse yet, you yourself may have good-for-nothing acquaintances with credit or money problems. The books' thorough, plain-English strategies can help make these daunting subjects much easier to handle.

Price: Buyout Agreements - $49.99; Best Lease - $24.99; Credit Repair - $24.99; Money Troubles - $19.99.

Nolo

www.nolo.com

(510) 548-1976

Bring in the money

This may be the season when it's better to give than to receive, but don't tell that to the accounts receivable department. With receivables increasingly being treated as an asset, they need to be on the ball to increase cash flow and margins, and to reduce bad debts. John Salek's Accounts Receivable Management Best Practices can help, with proven, practical techniques and plenty of case studies and real-world examples, as well as a strategic, management-oriented viewpoint of how important this function is.

Price: $50.

John Wiley & Sons

www.wiley.com

(800) 762-2974

Quickfinders

PPC's Quickfinder Handbooks are a staple of tax season for many firms, with its 1040 and Tax Planning Handbooks and Tax Tables on countless tax preparers' desks across the country. This year, they're adding QuickPackage QF-X to their line, to replace the Internal Revenue Service's discontinued Package X. And if you like their handy answers and information during tax season, you might also get year-round use out of their new Depreciation Handbook and Accounting and Bookkeeping Handbook.

Price: QuickPackage QF-X - $8.95; Depreciation Handbook - $43; Accounting and Bookkeeping Handbook - $49. Quantity and combination discounts available.

Thomson PPC

www.quickfinder.com

(800) 510-8997

Rehabilitating crowds

Crowds used to be lumped in with all the other faceless agglomerations of people - mobs, gangs, masses, cliques, factions, herds, throngs, rabbles, Congress - that it was safe to disparage. Then James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds, now in its paperback release, discovered a heretofore-unknown ability of crowds to make good decisions. With a series of fun and illuminating examples, from judging the weight of oxen to finding lost submarines and setting stock prices, Surowiecki demonstrated the crowd's uncanny accuracy.

The trick, it seems, is to aggregate the individual members' knowledge and perspectives, without allowing them to succumb to groupthink. It's not an easy thing to achieve deliberately, but Surowiecki points the way, and offers tempting glimpses of harnessing crowds to improve decision-making in business, politics and other realms. Next up: the unexpected policy-setting prowess of hordes.

Price: $14.

Vintage Books/Anchor Books

www.wisdomofcrowds.com

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