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September 27, 2007

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Fired Up or Burned Out

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 9:11 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team's Passion, Creativity, and Productivity
By: Michael Lee Stallard, with Carolyn Dewing-Hommes and Jason Pankau, Thomas Nelson, 230 pages, $22.99 Hardcover, July 2007. ISBN 9780785223580
Great leadership is something we think is easy to recognize, but it can be a hard thing to define. In Fired Up or Burned Out, Michael Lee Stallard does just that by explaining the type of culture great leaders create, and also the traits leaders use to create it. As Stallard himself states, we only remain motivated and engaged at work for so long using traditional motivational speeches and incentives. He suggests altering the workplace itself, creating an organization connecting employees with each other and the mission, values, and outlook of the organization. Given a goal and a vision, the workforce of such an organization will organically inspire and engage itself. We like to think that we have created this kind of company in a third floor office in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward, and that this has had everything to do with our success.
Explaining early on why it's so important to create a workplace culture that engages workers (and where they engage each other), he states:
The Gallup Organization conservatively estimates the annual economic cost to the American economy from the approximately 22 million American workers who are extremely negative or "actively disengaged" to be between $250 and $300 billion. This figure doesn't include the cost for employees who are disengaged but have not spiraled down to the level of active disengagement.

Beyond that sobering fact, government and private research organizations are expecting a shortage of between 10 to 35 million workers in the American market lasting through the first half of the century. Stallard's 230 pages pack plenty of inspiration to lead the kind of organization that can attract and retain workers in this difficult environment, and he discusses the practical skills necessary to do it. The book is broken up into four parts. In the first three sections, Stallard discusses how to engage workers in the workplace, how to create a great overall work culture, and the traits that make a great leader. In the fourth part, "Learn from Twenty Great Leaders Over Twenty Days," he shares twenty stories of great leadership, along with quick applications of each one. His stories aren't confined to this part of the book, though. He illustrates his ideas throughout the book using a wealth of historical examples and with stories from sports and the business world. If you feel like you or your organization is burned out and needs to be reignited, pick up this title.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.