Schlitt, Ron. Solid Footholds for The Leader. A view from those below. Trafford Publishing. 2007.
R.S.- President and CEO of RDJ Management Corporation. He has spent over twenty years working almost every demographic of the working population in developing and leading individuals to successful corporate life. He lives in Kelowna, B.C.
Ron’s primary resource for the content of his book comes from his personal experience in the ‘marketplace’. His use of anonymous contributors adds a practical focus on how associates and employees are impacted by corporate leadership. Ron places a very high value on relationships in the workplace. His approach is somewhat simplistic but that is by design. He speaks a language that is uncomplicated and seeks to call issues by their very simplest terms, e.g. “No News Is Not Good News”.
The process that leaders undertake to solicit ‘feed-back’ from those they are leading must be done correctly. The request(s) must be seen as genuine and trustworthy. There is a danger that requests might be viewed as simply gauging loyalty and identifying opposition. There is a danger that some would view requests as masked hidden agendas.
A warning is sounded about waste and inefficiency that can become a part of a workplace environment. Ron calls this problem “feeding the hog”, (referring to a practice in the sawmill industry where waste (hog-fuel) is sent to a burner to get rid of it). “The biggest single hog-feeding strategy is the resignation of key personnel.” (36)
“Under-communication” (44) is always damaging to the workplace environment. Giving employees (associates) genuine recognition is fundamental to good morale. Having to make major decisions (“pulling the trigger” (94) comes with the responsibility of knowing all the facts surrounding those decisions.
Leaders must maintain a high level of level of transparency and accountability with their workers. “Even your personal life outside of work is measured.” (70) There is no substitute for sound modelling. Positive feed-back, from below, is a valid barometer of good leadership.
Ron divides leaders into three groups. There are those who seek followers that are similar “in appearance, emotions and thinking”. (101) He calls them “Clones”. (101) Leaders who want followers that are robots he calls “Drones”. (104) Then there are those leaders who look for employees who “have their own unique set of skills, abilities, interests and creative minds”. (108) Such leaders are “Bones”. (108) “Flames, ashes and embers” (113) is another analogy that Ron uses to differentiate between poor, bad and good leaders. A good leader has the courage and wisdom to be able to genuinely say “I am sorry”. (125) “Gamesmanship leads to paranoia and mistrust for both the leader and the follower.” (159) (159) “Leadership is action, not position.” (167)