A debut business book that uses a story of a new hire to distill business leadership into easily understood principles.
Business coach/corporate consultant Parks deftly employs fiction to impart useful knowledge about being a manager and leader. He tells the story of Quentin “Quint” Spalding, who, after a stint with the U.S. Army and a subsequent, unfulfilling job, is hired by Critical Direct, a progressive company that values its “associates.” Quint meets the company’s president, goes through its comprehensive training program, interacts with associates at various levels, and rises in the organization. The lessons that he learns along the way are designed to highlight collaborative aspects of management at a humanistic company. For example, Quint is surprised to learn that the company’s founder instituted a policy of allowing associates to take off their favorite day of the year. The narrative goes on to reveal other employee-oriented techniques, as when Quint receives an orientation “passport” listing names of associates with whom he must meet. Parks cleverly embeds pertinent leadership lessons in Quint’s conversations with his supervisor, Tina; in one discussion about another associate, Tina asks, “does the person really have the knowledge of what your expectations are?” Other interactions offer similarly effective teaching moments. The author openly questions some typical company operations, such as mandatory meetings, and offers creative alternatives. At one point, Quint develops a management technique that impresses the company president, who tells him, “I learned a long time ago that bosses can learn quite a bit from their people if they don’t let their egos get in the way.” By the end of the story, Quint is ready to take on new management responsibilities—a finale that feels a bit obvious. Overall, though, the leadership messages throughout this short book are meaningful and worthy of consideration.
An impressive, well-told tale that illuminates several essential tenets of management.