A review by
Squawk! How To Stop Making Noise and Start Getting Results, Travis Bradberry. New York: HarperCollins Publisher (2008).
The writer conveyed an analogical story behind a flock of seagull birds. This book is about how one Seagull Manager learned the three virtues of great leadership.
Charlie was a seagull who truly loves his job, gusty, passionate and always brought up new ideas. And no gull in the flock knew more than Charlie about the place they were living. The place where the seagulls make a living by snatching and plundering foods was a food court in the Marine Park. However, problem arose when the flock’s size was tripled. In this situation, Charlie still managed the flock as it was the same old day. He felt as he was doing an excellent job despite the new hatchlings reached maturity.
One day, he overheard his flock talk about him as soon as he arrived on the deck. The flock asked him to join them in thinking of how to solve their problem. They were starving and the food supply was not enough. But he could not see their problem, by saying ‘I want to know how I’m responsible for you all not getting enough to eat’ and ‘Well, I’m busy. Would you rather I followed you around all day and fed you myself?’ sarcastically. Scott (one of the most skilled flock), Maya (a wisdom gull) and Yufan (hardworking gull) came out with this sentence, ‘You go right into telling us what to do like it’s all so simple and we’re too stupid to know what to do’ and ‘You swoop in out of no where and fire a bunch of orders at us like we’re a bunch of hatchlings that can’t come up with any worthwhile ideas on our own. And what’s worse is that you take off and leave us behind to clean up your mess.’
This kind of leadership was called ‘Seagull Manager’. A seagull manager would prefer to work by rolling up his/her sleeves, swoop in, and squawk up a storm rather than taking the time to get the facts straight and work alongside the team to realize a visible solution. A seagull manager deposited steaming piles of formulaic advice and then abruptly takes off, leaving everyone else behind to figure out the solution. A seagull manager interacted with their employees only when there was a fire to put out and yet they move in and out so hastily, and put so little thought into their approach. In other word, they made bad situations worse by frustrating and alienating those who need them the most.
Fortunately, Charlie woke up when his flock wanted to leave him behind. He was given a month to think the solution before his flock going to the seashore, the place where they belong in the first place. Nevertheless, he has been given a brilliant advice by an old turtle named Oscar who followed the flock’s development. Oscar gave him the three virtue of great leadership. The three virtues are full-fledged expectations, communication that clicks and paws on performance.
Oscar asked Charlie to see an otter named Imata for his first lesson of full-fledge expectation. Charlie was told that to manage is to achieve results by making use of what is available to him. If he did not set crystal clear expectations with every member of his flock, then he wouldn’t see the result and yet he was holding them back. For Charlie food is the result and the outcome to his flock. Full-fledged expectations are to ensure that employees’ effort is spent doing the right things in the right ways. This means thoroughly exploring what will be required of the employees, how their performance will be evaluated in the future, and getting agreement and commitment to work toward established goals. There is big difference between telling people what’s expected of them and making sure that what they will be doing is completely understood. A week past by, the first virtue impact was noticeable by Charlie but he was concerned about his efforts were not bearing enough fruit. He was just doing a lot of talking, planning, and goal-setting, but the flock still hungry for foods.
For the second virtue, Charlie was asked to see a dolphin named Hui. Communication that clicks is observed what employees say and do, and speaks openly with them about their work. A manager’s interaction with his/her employees delivered the resources, guidance, and recognition they need to succeed. Communication clicks when everyone understands.
The last virtue is paws on performance. Charlie was told to see a dog named Annabel. Paws on performance is paying attention to each employee’s performance, and offer praise as frequently and emphatically as constructive feedback being done. Keeping paws on performance pushes a team to a new height by positive endeavours and realigning efforts that were misdirected. In a simple sense, that is praise work that’s well done, guide errant performers back on track, and give a healthy sense of independence and interdependence.
After all circumstances, Charlie succeeded in his battle. The three virtues of superior managers are intricately linked, with Communication That Clicks serving as the linchpin of the manager’s efforts. In teaching these virtues to Charlie, Oscar and the other animal managers did more than give him new skill to use on the job. They reshaped Charlie’s understanding of what his job really is. Charlie realized that his job is to support the members of his colony, not order them around, and that focusing on his role as supporter is the only way he’ll be able to maintain the virtues of superior managers.
To all of us, for those moments when we find ourselves swooping in a problem, squawking up a storm, and flapping our wings about, only to discover that we have just pooped all over everything………
“WHEN ARE YOU A SEAGULL MANAGER?”
Head of Commerce Department
Politeknik Merlimau Melaka
7th September, 2009