Squawk!: How to Stop Making Noise and Start Getting Resultsby Travis Bradberry
Pub. Date: 09/02/2008
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
How to Stop Making Noise and Start Getting Results
The Seagull Manager
For as long as he could remember, Charlie had been flying high at work. When he shared this sentiment with others, most forgave the pun—not just because Charlie was a seagull, but, quite simply, because he was a seagull who truly loved/p>/b>/p>/b>
How to Stop Making Noise and Start Getting Results
The Seagull Manager
For as long as he could remember, Charlie had been flying high at work. When he shared this sentiment with others, most forgave the pun—not just because Charlie was a seagull, but, quite simply, because he was a seagull who truly loved his job. And up until recently, it was an easy job to love. As the head gull in a flock whose sole undertaking was pillaging the food court of a marine theme park in Southern California, he felt business was a genuine pleasure.
Many years earlier, Charlie's flock had lived with the rest of their breed at the seashore. Charlie was well known among the gulls because he was gutsy and passionate, and his head was always swimming with ideas. One day he shared a fascinating vision of a place where a little ingenuity would ensure their prosperity. Charlie had seen the place firsthand, and many of the gulls returned day after day to hear him talk about it. In time, the cocksure leader convinced a group of them to break away from the petty, pecking grind at the seashore and join him to form their own flock in a place they knew only as the food court.
When the new flock landed at the marine park, they found that the food court was even better than they had imagined. All of the food there was fattening and easy to come by; the unsuspecting humans were no match for the gulls' aggressive dive--bombing. For years the resourceful gulls enjoyed a life of abundance, snatching food from unsuspecting tourists by day and roosting safely on a craggy hillside at night. While the other flocks back at the seashore battled thepelicans and humans for the ocean's dwindling supply of clever, speedy fish, Charlie's flock enjoyed a generous supply of tasty grub brought to them daily by the patrons of the food court.
And no gull in the flock knew more than Charlie about when, where, and how a gull could nab a hearty meal. Charlie was so good at eating that the flock named him their manager. Not that there was much for him to manage. There was so much food around that keeping the flock content and their bellies full was easy. For the longest time, Charlie didn't have to worry much about keeping everyone happy.
Nowadays, things were decidedly different.
At first, there was the odd baby pecking out of an egg here and there, but the babies grew quickly. Soon, the newest members of the flock had hatchlings of their own. In what felt like no time at all, the flock's size tripled. Unfortunately, the food court did not.
The marine park continued to be a popular place, but only so many sunburned tourists could squeeze into the food court at one time. Initially, the flock's new mouths to feed were welcomed with open wings because there was plenty of food to go around, but it was only a matter of time before abundance and prosperity gave way to bickering over who got to peck first at an abandoned plate of nachos.
In the old days, a squabble among flock members wouldn't last long—some of the birds would simply move on to the next ready meal. As time and change transformed food into a scarce commodity, the squabbles became more frequent and more dramatic. With each passing month, the food supply became increasingly inadequate, and the gulls' hunger eroded the camaraderie of the team.
When the latest hatchlings reached maturity, Charlie still felt he was doing an excellent job running the show. He filled his days with the same essential activities he always had—negotiating the boundaries of marine park turf with other birds, resolving conflicts between flock members, undertaking an occasional grunt mission to dive--bomb unsuspecting children and snatch their sweets, and (for stress relief) dropping precision--guided munitions down the backs of shirtless sightseers. It was business as usual for Charlie, and he loved it.
That is, until he returned to roost one blustery evening and found the flock in the middle of a heated discussion. Charlie overheard small snippets of their conversation—something to do with concerns about the food supply—and he immediately mistook their debate for bickering. As he was prone to do, Charlie was squawking orders before his feet even touched the ground. He landed in the middle of the flock, flapped his wings like crazy to back them off, and finished with a tirade that supposedly held the best course of action.
Usually, when Charlie finished "solving" the problem, he would fly off to his next responsibility, leaving little opportunity for discussion. But on this night, with all the gulls gathered together in the roost, he had nowhere else to go. Charlie's slow realization of this fact created an awkward silence. He strutted around with his chest puffed out and wings pulled back long after he had run out of things to say. He looked at the faces surrounding him and realized they didn't hold the usual array of befuddled looks. Instead, the gulls looked strangely determined, almost as if they were expecting this.
Scott stepped forward. He was the flock's top performer, and his glossy coat of feathers and stout frame were a stark contrast to the emaciated gulls behind him. Scott had been with the flock since the beginning, and he was not one to mince words, "Charlie, we've got a serious problem here."
"Really? What's the matter?" Charlie asked, assuming there had been some type of accident.
"We're hungry, Charlie. Nobody's getting fed," Scott replied, glancing at the gaunt birds huddled on either side of him.
Charlie scanned the flock of gaunt seagulls himself. "Oh, man, just look at all of you! Are those dang sparrows snatching all of our food?" he asked. The flock responded with a profound silence. "Are you listening to me?" Charlie demanded. "Don't worry—you don't need to worry—just get to it. You guys can outwit any bird that's leaving you hungry. I know it."Squawk!
How to Stop Making Noise and Start Getting Results. Copyright © by Travis Bradberry. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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I work at an insurance company where, like a lot of places these days, times are hard. It seems that everyone is running around working extra hard and the managers are extra stressed trying to do too much. Well, two weeks ago some of the managers attended a training where they were given Squawk! When they came back in the office they had their teams read the book as well, so that everyone would be on the same page. People really liked the book (unlike a lot of the books they make us read), and they felt like it put everyone on the same page. So, then, other teams tried it and now everyone in our department is talking about the three virtues of leadership and watching out for seagull managers. All in all, it's a lot of fun and it's bringing us all together and making us more effective. I recommend the book.
A friend of mine shared this book with me after receiving it in a management training. It had a huge impact upon her, and she thought it also might help me. I found the story invigorating and the lessons powerful and essential to anyone with a job, especially if you are a manager. The other thing I loved about this book is its techniques (the three virtues of great leadership) are also effective tools to use at home with my spouse and children. By far the best business fable I've read.
Unfortunately, we've all seen it happen. When faced with a problem, rather than working cooperatively to come up with a solution, your manager or colleagues come swooping in, squawking loudly, dump orders riddled with formulaic advice, and then take off, leaving you and everyone else to clean up the mess. Or¿let's be honest: there may have been a time (or three) when you have been guilty of doing that very thing yourself. While this happens in every workplace worldwide more frequently than ever, it doesn't have to. Through the story of Charlie, a seagull who doesn't understand how his management actions are holding back his flock, Travis Bradberry, Ph.D., reveals the three virtues of great leadership that he has used to help thousands of people and organizations deal with seagull managers in the workplace and, just as important, to avoid being one themselves. Charlie the seagull is a well-intentioned manager who, when faced with new challenges after previously leading his flock to success, fails to understand how his management style is holding back, rather than helping, his team. Through our bird's-eye view of Charlie, overconfident Scott, quiet Maya, practical Yufan, and skinny, shy Alfred, we see them and the rest of the flock struggle to solve their problems while absorbing the three virtues of great leadership and teamwork along the way. This entertaining and illuminating fable will help make us all more productive, less prone to depositing messes on the heads of those around us, and more able to work effectively with those who continue to squawk at us every day.
The book seems to be a remedial learning guide for those who dropped out of highschool. It is written in such a simplistic way, that it basically fails early, and never manages to get the reader back. For a self-help guide this is bad. The lead character is Charlie and he goes on some childish adventures trying to teach us about product management, but fails miserably. There are too many excellent help guides on the market that accomplish what this one can't. Avoid.