Gung Ho

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The book focuses on three principles for effective management:  gung ho

1)  The spirit of the squirrel (knowing that everybody’s contribution to the work is valuable and that there are consequences if it doesn’t get done);

2)  The spirit of the beaver (everybody works hard); and

3)  The spirit of the goose (give regular, sincere, and enthusiastic praise).

The point of the book was, by no means, lost on me; however, the way the story is presented made me question whether it was based on events that had actually taken place or if the story was created for the book.  The storyline could’ve been strengthened by adding more details about some of the specific problems the main characters encountered in saving their plant.  Ultimately, the story is much too white-washed.  I discussed this book with a group of front-line supervisors who found it difficult to see the book’s credibility because it seemed hunky-dory.

As I reflected more on the book, I pondered whether the authors chose to leave out details in order to emphasize the three principles.  While I agree that the three principles are central to good management, it would have been awesome to include what it is like to do such amid the day-to-day challenges of leadership and management.

Aside from the three main points of the book, I gleaned a few additional take-aways.  Consider the following:

•Find an ally within your organization.  Allies are people who share your vision and long-term goals.

•Although many people would encourage leaders who are new to organizations to be wary of early significant decisions, i.e., firing somebody, they may be necessary; thus, don’t be afraid to make them.  Weigh them carefully, but don’t be afraid.

•Recognize when the power structure (your boss) is not rooting for you and be strategic about it.  Digging in for a fight doesn’t mean being adversarial.

•You must lead in way that balances the organization’s goals with the emotional side of people.  It is folly to flippantly, insincerely, or infrequently recognize and manage people.  Yes, true motivation comes from within; however, you can nurture it.  (This is my personal short-coming.  I have to work hard not to lead with a “suck it up” approach.)

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