The authors note that gutsy leaders encourage employees in order to keep them loyal and to attract and retain new talent. Another important component needed to remain encouraged is purpose. The Freibergs have found through their study of Jill Corsi and USAA that if one is not driven by purpose, personally and professionally, one is more likely to get bored (p.124). Tim Ciasulli at Planet Honda encourages his employees by asking them how the dealership can help them accomplish their dreams and goals in life (p.99). No amount of encouragement can effectively compensate an employee with no purpose.
Loyal, happy, and talented employees perform at higher levels, are more productive, and have a greater commitment to the company (Freiberg & Freiberg 2004). In short, a great work environment with leaders who encourage their employees equals greater profit margins.
For every situation one will face expectations or tasks one must complete. This begins with the beginning of life and extends through every facet of a person’s existence. Children are expected to behave in a certain manner. Students are expected to attend class and complete assignments. Employers are expected to create a safe work environment and supply compensation for the work done. While offering a fair and competitive salary is one of the most obvious ways to attract and keep talent, money is not the only factor in determining an employee’s job satisfaction (Bayside, 2007). All employees desire a positive and supportive workplace. Once people understand the strategy, they become empowered (Freiburg, 2005, p.87). Once empowered, employees are expected to perform. Freiberg writes that in an environment in which power is delegated and trust is assumed, peer pressure keeps everyone performing at his or her highest capacity (p.136).
One widespread expectation of many companies is to merely satisfy their customers. Another common belief is that businesses must merely satisfy employees in order to retain them. However, some employers think outside of the box. Gutsy leaders go beyond these limited expectations. For example, at SAS they are committed to doing whatever it takes to find, recruit, and retain their talent (p.133). Once talent is acquired, gutsy leadership work at creating the proper environment to maintain high expectations. Their suspicion is that if work is fun, or at the very least enjoyable, employees will exceed their expectations. Gutsy leaders expect the highest from their followers. These now happy followers engage their hearts and minds into the assigned tasks. Creating and maintaining an atmosphere in which people feel happy and valued is a secret to retention (Bayside, 2007). This creates a positive flow within the organization. The employer and the customer reap the benefit of a more dedicated employee.
An Analysis of the Apparent Biases of the Author
The authors make their affinity for the companies they chose to study and review abundantly clear. Although one would be hard pressed to argue with success, the research is too anecdotal for such a complex subject as leadership and organizational development. The research process should include properly formulated research questions; sampling (probability and non-probability); measurement (surveys, scaling, qualitative, unobtrusive); research design (experimental and quasi-experimental); and data analysis (Trochim, 2006). The book Guts is a fine read, however; the validity in the research and reliability of measures are non-existent. Fundamentally, there is no control group of companies to measure nor do the authors mention the thousands of successful companies that do not meet the gutsy label. One could assume with certainty that there are several gutsy companies that used the approach championed in this book that failed miserably.
Most of the reviews online gave Guts a high rating. Frank Chen in his review said that the Freibergs have done a decent job of wrapping their high-level advice around stories and interviews that are engaging, well-written, and carefully selected to make their point (Chen, 2005). Conversely, the review found on the Brand Autopsy web page was very critical of Guts.
Guts! is more a book about how companies can achieve extraordinary results by creating a culture that is caring, employee-focused and fosters a spirit of ownership amongst employees. It is not about how leaders make gutsy decisions. Essentially, this is a case study book on companies whose leaders lead by practicing Servant Leadership principles and by infusing Servant Leadership principles into the culture of the company (Moore, 2004). At the heart of the complaint was the over use of the Southwest story and the not so apparent attempt to capitalize on the book Nuts with the sequel Guts.
The obvious is that effective leaders bring out the best in others and create a collaborative culture. The act of equipping, encouraging, and expecting speaks to the concept that business is relationships. Gutsy leaders create an environment suited towards warm and caring relationships. The tenor of leadership is rooted in authentic conversation. The idea of authenticity is modeled with every leader with Guts. One major component seen with our case studies is that even in the midst of conflict and controversy the organization produced. Southwest Airlines endured 911 and Planet Honda overcame the bad reputation of their past. Warren Bennis (2003) said that leaders learn best by leading in the face of obstacles (p.134). Regardless of the situation gutsy leaders build organizations that work well, play well, and live well. If the authors are correct, gutsy organizations led by gutsy leaders create a sense of ownership, lead with love, and make business heroic.
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