Gung ho friends!
In 1998 Blanchard and Bowles wrote a book that seems increasingly more important to our future than it did even then. The book tells the tale of Peggy Sinclair’s promotion to General Manager of a dying business. It is her story of meeting Andy Longclaw and their work together, to not only save the business, but make record profits with record productivity.
From their first meeting they shared a special greeting and left each other with the same good-bye. Gung Ho friend!
Gung Ho! really resonated with me. It is a story that continues to motivate my thinking about what I am trying to achieve and how to follow in the footsteps of those who manage to do great work that adds real value to the world. It explains what it means for me to inspire productive people who care about the world we live in, who care about the work we do together and who care about people beyond our tribal borders.
To be Gung Ho means that my company must have the:
- Spirit of the squirrel
- Way of the beaver
- Gift of the goose
The Spirit of the Squirrel
The spirit of the squirrel is about doing worthwhile work. This is not just important work but to be worthwhile the work must be worthy of the effort we expend on it. It is knowing that the work we are doing makes the world a better place. It is also about everyone in the company working toward a shared goal – one that as the CEO, I must define. Lastly it is driven by our values, which guide all plans, decisions and actions. This is the spirit of the squirrel.
The Way of the Beaver
The way of the beaver is about my letting people be in control of the work that they do. It is my job to clearly mark the boundaries of our playing field and then to let them use their expertise to get the job done. I must be respectful of their thoughts and feelings, their hopes and dreams. I must listen carefully and then act upon their words. I must also ensure that everyone is able to do their job. I must ensure that they are challenged to learn more, strive further, become who they were meant to be. This is the way of the beaver.
The Gift of the Goose
The gift of the goose is to demonstrate real gratitude for work well done. Congratulations must be timely, responsive, unconditional and enthusiastic (TRUE). I must cheer the progress, not just the win. And I must remember to reward those for a job well done. I must encourage with praise when we are doing it right – not just with criticism when we are doing it wrong. This is the gift of the goose.
This book has a permanent place on my very cluttered desk because it captures the essence of what I think good companies are all about. It speaks to the hearts of leaders who know that having a great business requires more than lots of customers who value their products. They know that to have such a business requires Gung Ho people with a Gung Ho spirit.
I know that the next generation of CEOs will rise above the greediness, meanness and narcissism that prevails in many companies today and that they will teach us to embrace these gifts. And I know that when this happens they will make the world a better place for everyone.
Gung Ho friends!
Gung Ho! was recommended to me by Valerie Ballard and she is the most Gung Ho person that I have ever met. Valerie has been my mentor and sounding board for many decades. She is also my sister and I hope that each of you will have the good fortune to meet her one day.
We believe in you. Gung Ho Friends!