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By Bill Catlette
June 2007

We know it's not quite June yet, but we thought you deserved an early edition of Fresh Milk, to get the jump on the Memorial Day Holiday here in the U.S., and also to let you know we've extended our special advance order offer on our new book, Contented Cows MOOve Faster.

Earlier this month, we offered to make the new book available on a pre-release basis, exclusively to Fresh Milk subscribers. We've always wanted to say "The response has been overwhelming" about something, and that phrase certainly applies in this case!

So, as long as we've got our distribution machine poised and ready to ship out the first wave, we're extending the offer through Friday, June 1, the official release date for the book.

Here's the deal: You get the book for $18 (a 28% discount on the $24.95 retail price). Quantity discounts are available for purchases of 20 or more copies, and as always, we're happy to personalize books at no charge. After June 1, the book will be available on our website for $22 a copy, with discounts for orders of 2 or more copies.

To order, simply send us an Email (, and let us know how many copies you'd like, and where you will want them shipped. That's it. You needn't send any money now. We'll email you later, with a link to a secure form to enter your credit card information.

Now - for the June article.

The title of this article is borrowed from a story in our first book, in which sergeant major Jim Prentice of the British army, while on winter wartime maneuvers with his unit in Scotland, saw to it that all of his troops were warm and had been fed before agreeing to sit and eat his own meal. Prentice's reasoning was that, in addition to the example it set, it seemed utterly foolish to go into battle with hungry soldiers.

Gerald Grinstein, CEO of Delta Air Lines seems to be a believer in that same logic. Upon Delta's exit from bankruptcy protection a few weeks ago, Mr. Grinstein refused a post-bankruptcy bonus that would have amounted to something in the neighborhood of $10 million, instructing that the amount be used instead to fund scholarships and emergency hardship assistance for Delta employees, families and retirees.

The day after Delta's emergence, I had the occasion to speak with and congratulate several of their employees while traveling to Atlanta for a meeting. In separate conversations, two of these individuals volunteered that had it not been for Grinstein's leadership, they doubted the outcome would have been the same. Both of them mentioned the declined bonus, and one man remarked, "I would follow him (Grinstein) to hell and back."

In the same March 20 USA Today article that chronicled Grinstein's gesture (Delta CEO: Give my bonus away), and a subsequent May 18 piece (Airlines have a long, hot summer ahead), the paper noted that Mr. Grinstein's "peers" at United and Northwest (also both recently bankrupt) had apparently decided to be a little (make that a lot) less magnanimous with their own post-emergence party favors. The article went on to note the presence of angry employees at two of the aforementioned airlines. Wanna guess which two?

As posited in our newest book, Contented Cows MOOve Faster, leadership is not a terribly complex proposition. It can be hard, though, because it requires us to do things that are not in our immediate self interest (like Mr. Grinstein), to risk our popularity by being bone-honest with people, and to personally adopt high standards of conduct.

Those who occupy leadership positions and fail in one or more of these respects ultimately find themselves very much alone as the result of what can only be characterized as "gross leadership failure," a condition that occurs when one's followers lose faith to the degree that they simply will no longer follow that person. World Bank President, Paul Wolfowitz and U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez are two recent very public examples.

The Gonzalez case is something of an object lesson for us in that it is being handled in a fashion very similar to what we commonly see in the business world. Quite often, as the manager of someone who has lost their followers, and the ability to lead, we steadfastly deny the situation, remaining loyal to "our guy" as one staff member after another jumps ship, or is forced to walk the plank in an attempt to rearrange the blame, or create a diversion. Morale throughout the unit craters, and performance declines, eventually forcing us to step in and do what we should have done much earlier.

There are two lessons (reminders perhaps) for us here.

1. Our people will forgive or overlook a lot of things - an occasional boneheaded decision, overwork, an out of character temper tantrum, even bad food in the employee cafeteria. They do not and will not understand leaders who put themselves on a pedestal, saddle others with their own mistakes, or break faith with their people. Practically speaking, there is no redemption from gross leadership failure. When people have given up on their leader, they have given up, period. In such cases, there is regrettably but one course of action - to remove the person from the leadership position, or the organization altogether.

2. Sadly, in our desire to be fair and show loyalty to the incumbent, we nearly always make the situation worse by procrastinating. While the incumbent lingers, twisting slowly, painfully in the breeze, we are sending a powerful signal to the rest of the organization that the behavior is okay, or that we just don't care. Moreover, it is as cruel to the failed leader as it is to those who are supposed to be following them.

Our hope is that none of your managers will ever reach the point where people are unwilling to follow them. But if they do, for their good, and the good of the organization, don't duck and don't dawdle.

Richard Hadden and Bill Catlette
Contented Cow Partners, LLC

phone: 904-720-0870
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