The era of authoritarian cowboy CEOs like Jack Welch and Lee Iacocca is over. In an age of increasing transparency and access, it just doesn't pay to be a jerk—to employees, customers, competitors, or anyone else. In Nice Companies Finish First, Shankman, a pioneer in modern PR, marketing, advertising, social media, and customer service, profiles the famously nice executives, entrepreneurs, and companies that are setting the standard for success in this new collaborative world. He explores the new hallmarks of effective leadership, including loyalty, optimism, humility, and a reverence for customer service, and shows how leaders like Jet Blue's Dave Needleman, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Steve Jobs of Apple, Ken Chenault of Amex, Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, and the team behind Patagonia harness these traits to build productive, open, and happy workplaces for the benefit of their employees, themselves, and the bottom line.
A University of Florida survey of 700 employees in a wide range of industries found that 31% of participants "reported that their supervisor gave them the "silent treatment during the year." Surprising? Yes. Ubiquitous? Stunningly so. Strategically successful? Not anymore, says marketing and strategy consultant Shankman (Can We Do That?!), who suggests that the qualities of a good leader are obvious and strategically advantageous, but elusive in today's business culture. Though Shankman's insights aren't groundbreaking, they are well-organized, concise, and convincing. His framework consists of 10 leadership traits that range from the most personal (good listening) to the highest-level corporate strategy (beating the competition through innovation). Some tried and true examples include Wal-Mart's forays into organic food, Zappos's focus on customer service, and, on the negative side, Kodak's myopia and the legendary failure of leadership that resulted in the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Yet he also finds unusual examples, including Neapolitan Pizza's commitment to charitable cycling events, and the San Diego firm SDA Security's culture of innovation, communication, and trust. The book's anti-Machiavellian approach is trendy and humanistic, and it bears repeating by thought leaders.