A corporate consultant argues that kinder, gentler corporate leaders and corporations are winning out over older, tougher images of take-no-prisoners leadership.
Shankman (Can We Do That?!: Outrageous PR Stunts that Work—and Why Your Company Needs Them, 2006) associates the older view of the ineffective leader with what he calls “A Hopeless Jerk” and offers nine “warning signs” of such a leader, including “Uninterested in Feedback,” “Takes Sides Unfairly and Openly” and “Wants a Castle in the Sky.” As a replacement, the author provides nine traits for more effective leadership, including the “The Accessibility Factor,” “Strategic Listening” and “360 Loyalty.” The author buttresses these traits with case studies drawn from the corporate world. The uniting theme is Adam Smith's view of human functioning as “enlightened self-interest.” Shankman contrasts some failed top dogs with others who now represent success. Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap, the former CEO of Sunbeam, was an example of the former. His reputation rested on a “gleeful appetite for job cuts,” and he eventually flamed out and drove the company into the ground. Another example is Wolfgang Schmitt of Rubbermaid, who refused to consider the views of others. On the positive side is Chris McCormick of L.L. Bean, a company famous for its service and “treating customers like human beings.” PJ Bain, of PrimeRevenue, a supplier of digital factoring services to international corporations, stands for the development of skills and abilities of his employees through special training programs and other activities.
A smoothly put together business leadership primer that could use further, deeper elaboration.