I’ll pen my liner notes later this week — I have less than 20 percent of the book to go. (My Kindle doesn’t have page numbers, of course — it’s an electronic book, after all — but it does have the percentage of the book that you have read, so… I’m 80 percent done.)
Michael Stallard’s “Fired Up or Burned Out” addresses organizational and personal passion, creativity, and productivity. Stallard notes in his introduction that fewer than three in ten Americans are engaged in their jobs (surviving rather than thriving), and sets about to explain why and how it can be fixed.
“Fired Up” is organized into four sections (and 15 chapters): what fires us up; the keys to connecting a team and lighting their fires; where it begins; and lessons from twenty great leaders. Each section begins with a “What you will learn guide,” and each chapter ends with a “Review, Reflection, and Application” summary. The former provides the theme and the latter provides an excellent reference for future review.
What you will learn includes:
* Why a sense of emotional connection is necessary for people and organizations to thrive. * How the oft discussed elements of vision, value, and voice are reflected in the richer concepts of inspiring identity, human value, and knowledge flow. * Why connection depends on the right kind of people whose actions increase connection. * The three types of people who affect connection: intentional disconnectors, unintentional disconnectors, and intentional connectors.
Stallard begins with the fundamental belief that all people want and need to feel valued and shows how the “Power of Connection” works to this end. “Connection meets basic human psychological needs for respect, recognition, belonging, autonomy, personal growth, and meaning.” People with a higher degree of connection experience superior mental and physical health improving the performance of both. And the lack of connection will gradually diminish both leading to burn out.
Psychiatrists have also observed that the lack of connection leads to feelings of loneliness, isolation, confusion resulting in behaviors of distrust, disrespect, and dissatisfaction. And at a time when the public is concerned about organizational ethics, it has been noted that in cultures where large numbers of people are disconnected, unethical behavior is more likely to occur.
Stallard links connection to vision, value and voice. Many business authors have underscored the value of the first two elements but less has been written on “voice.” I found the discussion of “voice” one of the most interesting and refreshing aspects of this excellent book.Stallard explains in detail how “voice” or knowledge flow increases connection and fires up people, helps people to make better decisions (the wisdom of the crowd), and increases creativity and innovation. He then suggest several strategies on how to increase knowledge flow within the organization – top to bottom, bottom to top, and across all functions.
Author Michael Stallard has had an interest in work cultures throughout his career as he wanted to understand the culture that would bring out the best in himself. His interest led to a generalized notion of what would bring out the best in all, and left Wall Street in 2002 to start a think tank, EPluribus Partners, to assist people and organizations in achieving their potential.
The final section, “Learn from Twenty Great Leaders Over Twenty Days” provides excellent examples of Stallard’s principles in practice by great leaders – Marquis de Lafayette, George Washington, John Wooden, Howard Schultz, and many others.
“Fired Up” is an excellent read for those who lead, those who want to lead, and, even, for those who do not want to lead. All can fall into the traps of life that lead to failure. “Fired Up” shows us a practical way to avoid these traps and to live a full, productive life.
I should note that Dorris specifically asked that we talk about the Wooden example — so if you haven’t finished, read that section.