Faster, Smarter, Higher - Critical summary review - Utkarsh Rai

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Faster, Smarter, Higher - critical summary review

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Management & Leadership

This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Faster, Smarter, Higher: Managing Your Career

Available for: Read online, read in our mobile apps for iPhone/Android and send in PDF/EPUB/MOBI to Amazon Kindle.


Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Critical summary review

Although subject matter expertise is crucial; what genuinely propels people in their career growth is how they communicate with all parties at work. As a matter of fact, some highly capable people do not grow in influence and role, because they don't invest time and energy in building fruitful relationships with the stakeholders.

In an interconnected world where nothing can be done in isolation, this skill is a definite must-have for every person yearning to come out on top.

Utkarsh Rai just nailed this topic by sharing multiples of dos and don'ts in an easy-to-grasp but highly applicable and actionable fashion. Each subsection talks about a specific stakeholder and gives you a rundown on how to apply the strategies presented.

A point often overlooked:

Reaching the zenith of your managerial potential requires a genuine approach in order to tackle the information overload. In recent years, many other assets come to the fore to compensate for what can only be described as “lack of factual data.”

In this book, you’ll find why having access to valuable information stands as a bulwark against potential failure. Moreover, the focus is mainly fixated on building relationships, managing lucrative connections, and dealing with the unique preferences of the stakeholders.

Handling relationships is not merely a way to expand your network, but a powerful learning tool that can elevate you to the top of the heap.

Let’s delve into the step-by-step process:

Manage Yourself and your Manager

Not writing your goals down on a piece of paper and refusing to outline your priorities clearly, is a one-way ticket to disaster. To defeat the odds, you ought to devise an actionable plan that will help you reach the implementation phase.

At the same time, only those who can’t seem to quench their thirst for new knowledge are “entitled” to expect a career boost. A common mistake most people make is associating growth with money, and continuously being on the lookout for higher-paying positions.

These individuals never seem to fit into a particular group and they occasionally sidestep the code of conduct enforced by the organization in order to satisfy their shallow needs. Anyway, you should respect the organizational policies, but remain flexible when it comes to the execution of strategies. By doing so, you may get in line for a promotion.

According to the author, you need two things for that to happen:

  • An open position at a higher level
  • An applicant who is geared up with the right tools to handle the pressure of the next level

Here’s an eye-opener:

Building a network of associates is in tight correlation with creating a brand. The level of your competence is judged based on your reputation and the influential people around you. To increase your visibility, you should dive into interactions with higher-tier people and join forces with go-getters and troubleshooters.

When it comes to managers, becoming a Friday Man is critical for morale boost on an organizational level. To fill in the shoes of such a person, you need:

  • Hard working character
  • Knowledge of required matters
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Thrive on problem-solving
  • Above all, integrity

It’s needless to say that most people don’t want to be labeled as the “teacher’s pet.” Nonetheless, there’s nothing wrong with praising the manager and helping it to set up a defensive perimeter to safeguard its agendas.

According to Utkarsh, a manager can fall into one/or several of the following categories:

  • A Weak Mentor
  • A Strong Supervisor
  • A Facilitator Supervisor
  • Protector and Possessive Supervisor
  • An Over-demanding Supervisor
  • A Hierarchical Supervisor

Each type of manager should be handled differently based on its innateness and attitude of running the organization. In the meantime, you may grow fond of the leader or not, but you’ll also need to watch out for enemies, frenemies and loyal admirers. Keeping toxic people at a distance is not going to be a piece of cake.

For this reason, don’t be caught off guard by sharing more than you should. Learn to say “No,” and trust your instinct.  

The Art of Managing your Team and Peers

Many managers throughout the world live in fear of being overshadowed by someone more competent. Instead of leveraging unethical methods, you have to acknowledge the fact that dominating in every field is not a realistic outcome.

There’s no need to amplify this issue; just give your team the respect they deserve, but draw a straight line, which they mustn’t cross. All things considered, being a manager is an uphill battle. Sometimes, you have to get out of your comfort zone and do the things you wouldn’t usually do, such as identifying underachievers:

Before drawing conclusions, check to see whether some of the following situations add to their unsatisfactory performance:

  • Their Expertise Doesn’t Match the Job Requirements – In this case, you ought to find a person with qualities which correspond to the action required.
  • Personal or Professional Events Obstruct the Execution – This kind of situation tends to endanger the overall display of the organization.
  • Not Having Managerial Support – Employees without skillful leaders to back them up are more likely to fail than those enjoying full support.

A proficient manager plays the humbleness card, and tries to earn respect and authority rather than “Demanding” it on the ground that it deserves to be admired! Keep this in mind, when interacting with your associates and subordinates.

When it comes to binding with your peers, telling a joke at the expense of the manager is a great way to break the ice. The dynamic environment, however, may put a strain on the relations between co-workers and endanger the cohesion.

Given these points, working on a project with hardworking, down-to-earth and funny peers is nothing less than a real blessing. Nonetheless, things often take an unexpected turn, and various personalities sign up to give their contribution to the assignment.

Team up with high-performers and keep the negative people at a distance for the sake of the organization. That approach will give you the upper hand in potential verbal conflicts. Don’t allow for fear to get the better of you, because the competition is the only thing propelling you forward.

Also, try to avoid conflicting topics, and focus on things that don’t accentuate the negative aspects of working in a certain group.

Managing your Manager’s Peers and Superiors

If you want to impress your manager’s boss, you have to take part in projects that generate immense value for the organization. In doing so, your name may pop up in their minds when they dive deep into the succession-planning process. Don’t shy away from challenges and keep growing!

When it comes to progression, sometimes the manager is not the person you should address first. If his/her boss recognizes your potential; you must use that momentum to climb the corporate ladder. In like manner, you ought to demand evaluation of your efforts, and only if you are not pleased with the answer given by your manager, you should take it up with its boss.

However, don’t even think about creating a chasm between your manager and his boss. Those two may have some ideological differences, and you don’t need to be in the middle of such a problem. Sometimes, you may end up being summoned by the chief executives and asked to speak freely.

To sum up, wise managers embrace transparency and encourage the team members to establish a close relationship with their bosses. Furthermore, developing a network with your manager’s peers can turn out to be critical to your growth.

For instance, when your manager and its boss square off at meetings, maintaining a healthy relationship with the peers is crucial. You need all the support you can get to stand out from the crowd, and make yourself visible for a potential takeover.

On another occasion, you can help your manager to bury the hatchet with its peers, by acting as an intermediary in the process. Nurturing healthy relations with both sides can turn you into the man/woman of the hour.

Evidently, you can’t rely on a magic wand to erase all the organizational dispute points.

Regardless of the intensity of the issue, your job is to solicit views from all parties to get the big picture. If you have strong connections with other layers, you’ll always be one step ahead of everyone else. Additionally, you’ll be given more freedom to share your cravings about joining a different team or signing up for a special program.

Manage the Future and Other Aspects

A point worth mentioning: Issues can often explode without warning, leaving the managers on the brink of emotional and financial collapse. Therefore, to get a handle on every issue, you most definitely require outstanding managerial skills.

For instance, not taking HR seriously can cause you a lot of trouble. Truthfully, it’s not enough if your manager’s peers heap praise on your performance. If the HR doesn’t back their decision for promotion or compensation, you’ll end up embarrassed and empty-handed.

This leads us to the next question - Are we under surveillance?

Most companies supply their staff and management with cutting-edge equipment and software to facilitate communication. The employees on the other end, are aware that the software installed on the devices captures data, which compels them to behave ethically and within the limits of their authority.

On the positive side, the company gets a glimpse into their employees’ activities to protect their interest and make sure that the money is spent wisely.

Evidently, the financial body has a pivotal role in allocating resources to empower the organizational layers to conduct their activities. Suspicious and unauthorized spending ventures are punishable and under strict monitoring by the officials.

In addition, company officials are also obliged to keep close contact with third-parties and expand organizational influence.

Managers also have to deal with vendors and customers and remain firm in their intention to cooperate. However, not all of these individuals fit into the role of successful negotiators with both parties.

Honoring the company’s side of the agreement with vendors and customers requires a skillful group of people who can bear the burden of decision-making. Additionally, the key to sustained periods of growth and expansion is to have managers who can ensure that the vendors will hand-over the deliverables within the time-limit.

As it turns out, absorbing the role of a decision-maker takes guts, especially if you like to please all parties.

From here on out, you have to make sure that all your strategies are in line with the preferences and needs of stakeholders. In your work environment, you’ll come across various individuals whose demands vary, on a case to case basis.

To accelerate your growth, you need to cultivate relationships with different characters and adjust to the situation. Then again, lacking communication skills can bring you to your knees in next to no time. After all, the process of taking the fast track to success includes broadness and social skills.

Final Notes

If getting into the right frame of mind, feels like something you can accomplish, then jumping on the bandwagon seems like a feasible outcome. A word of caution: failing to establish a lucrative network can put in jeopardy your career growth and place you in a subordinate position.

The busy lifestyle stands to reason why people reach their zenith much quicker than their peers 50 years ago. This pushes back the retirement stage and makes people impatient to reach their professional peak.

In this book, Utkarsh Rai dissects the exact methods that can help you to handle various stakeholders and materialize your plans.

12min Tip 

Motivate yourself to ascend through the ranks by being open-minded and ready to engage in action.

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Who wrote the book?

Utkarsh Rai is an Indian entrepreneur, author, and angel investor for startups. Former head for Infinera India and China, Rai received the Udyog Rattan Award... (Read more)

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