The Fearless Front Line: A book review by Bob Morris

Fearless Front LineThe Fearless Front Line: The Key to Liberating Leaders to Improve and Grow Their Business
Ray Attiyah
Bibliomotion Books & Media (2013)

Two key questions: “Liberate leaders from what?” and “How to do that?”

No one can deny that every organization needs effectives leadership at all levels and in all areas, especially at its front line. Why there? Because front liners have the most extensive and intensive interaction with any organization’s “outside world,” especially its customers. Therefore, front liners must be well-prepared in terms of their skills and temperament but they must also receive the full support of their supervisors. Here’s a key point: Front line leaders must have authority as well as responsibility if they are to be effective. Ultimately, they and their associates are primarily responsible for keeping the organization running ob a day-to-day basis. C-level executives can then focus on continuous improvement issues and profitable growth objectives. Hence the importance of Ray Attiyah’s Run-Improve-Grow (RIG) business model.

He wrote this book in response to the two questions posed in the title of my review. Its title refers to preventing or releasing leaders (especially front line leaders) from hostage to what James O’Toole so aptly characterizes as “the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.” As Attiyah carefully explains, the RIG components (Run, Improve, and Grow) are separate but interdependent. An organization cannot run smoothly and efficiently unless it has the right people in place. Otherwise, it cannot improve its operations and thus, in turn, it cannot achieve (must less sustain) profitable growth. In my opinion, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company offers the best example of the RIG model: All of its 38,000 employees (including housekeepers, valet parkers, and serving staff members) are empowered to resolve complaints. In fact, any employee who receives a guest complaint or concern then “owns it” and is authorized to resolve it as she or he sees fit to a monetary limit of $2,500.

These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye, also listed to suggest the scope of Attiyah’s coverage.

o How Do Frontline Employees Perceive Marathon Managers? (Pages 17-20)
o What Are the Elements of a Fearless Culture? (29-31)
o What Are the Impediments to a Fearless Culture? (32-34)
o How Do You Develop a Fearless Culture in the Run? (38-52)
o What Are Some Common Roadblocks to Momentum? (64-71)
o What Impact Do Misaligned Management Systems Have on Collective Behaviors? (82-85)
o What Does It Take to Create a New Leadership Style? (87-103)
o How Do Proactive Improvements Differ from Reactive Improvements? (109-114)
o What Is the Relationship among Reliability, Quality, Bold Promises, and Organizational Success? (137-140)
o How Do You Make Sure Bets? (156-162)
o What’s Involved in Assembling Grow Teams? (166-171)
o How Do You Assemble a Talent Fleet? (178-184)
o Retaining the Best Talent (184-186)

On Page 193, Attiyah observes, “Be fearless but not reckless. Give those around you a unified vision and purpose for organizational peak performance. Then, find ways to help them maximize their strengths to spark your organization’s confidence. [Note: Ritz-Carlton employees share ‘WOW’ stories each day.] The result will be that the best and brightest will flock to your door, your website, and your social media pages in hopes of finding their way into your organization to help them achieve their bold growth. And that’s the foundation you need for a lifetime of sustainable growth as a Run-Improve-Grow organization.”

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the material that Ray Attiyah provides in this volume but I hope that I have at least suggested why I think so highly of it. Also, I hope that those who read this commentary will be better prepared to determine whether or not they wish to read the book and, in that event, will have at least some idea of how to “liberate” their leadership potentialities from both self-imposed and external limitations so they can help the given enterprise to achieve and then sustain profitable growth.

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