Information on leadership abounds these days, so much so that sound business advice is often difficult to remember amid the onslaught of emails, blog posts and other electronic updates most workers encounter on the job. So, what is a business owner or manager to do when a company or team needs revitalization? How can leaders convey their ideas in such a way that essential information will not only stick, but also be implemented?
One way is to weave a philosophy or plan of action into a story. And this is what Jon Gordon has done in Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture. Published in 2010 by John Wiley & Sons Inc., the book tells the story of Nancy, the new Chief Executive Officer of Soup Inc., a corporation on the verge of bankruptcy. She's highly motivated, but she's been unable to turn the company around, and she's under pressure to produce immediate results.
Then, on her lunch break, Nancy discovers Grandma's Soup House, a thriving little business that has far more to offer Nancy than delicious soup. Grandma and her grandson Peter befriend Nancy. And over the course of several months, Nancy learns from her new friends how to thoroughly revitalize Soup Inc.
The book's chapters are short, typically just two to three pages. They provide morsels of wisdom from Grandma and Peter that Nancy digests and adapts to her company's situation. For example, shortly after their meeting, Nancy asked Grandma what her secret to success was. Grandma said people think it's either the ingredients or the recipes she uses, but neither was the answer. "The secret is me," she said. "Who stirs the pot matters. You can't separate the soup from the soup maker." Thus Nancy received her first lesson: she would be the most important ingredient in Soup Inc.'s performance.
At the end of the book's 53 chapters, Nancy has a winning recipe for nourishing her team: "Stir the pot with love. Lead with optimism. Share the vision. Build trust. Fill the void with positive communication. Add a big dose of transparency and authenticity. Create engaged relationships. Combine inspiration, encouragement, empowerment and coaching. Fill up with appreciation. Heat with passion. Bring it all together with unity."
It is a challenge to write a simple book that doesn't read more like a children's book than one for business leaders seeking effective ways to improve their companies. Gordon, whose previously published books include The Energy Bus, The No Complaining Rule, Training Camp and The Shark and the Goldfish, appears to have mastered the form. He can be reached at 904-285-6842, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.jongordon.com.
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