Realistic Perspectives

A concentration of material and thoughts focused around leadership, values, ethics, efficiency and effectiveness

Review and summary: Gung-Ho!

with 3 comments

Funny name for a book isn’t it? But in fact Gung Ho means Work Together or Work in Harmony. Some say that it was derived from the name Chung-Guo Gung-Yeh Ho-Tso She, the name of a Chinese Industrial Cooperatives Association others say that it is a native Indian American name.

However fascinating the origin of the word, what we should be paying attention to is the meaning of the word, essentially how to work together or how to work together better, which is what the book Gung Ho (written by Ken Blanchard) is all about.

The theory comprises of three key elements.
1.The Spirit of the Squirrel (Doing Worthwhile Work) Likened to a Squirrel because they work with purpose and therefore dedication
2.The Way of the Beaver (In control of achieving the goal) Likened to a beaver as Beavers do their work their own way. They work freely and get the job done at the same time.

3.The Gift of the Goose (Cheering each other on) Likened to Geese as they cheer on fellow geese during flight. Refer my previous post named Leadership lessons from geese –

The first element, The Spirit of the Squirrel, speaks about the understanding that what we do makes the world a better place. It’s how the work helps others, not the amount of work done or targets met. The result? Self-Esteem – Self Esteem makes individuals feel good about themselves and the work they do.

Everyone works toward a shared goal. Goal sharing through individuals buying-in to the goals, not announcing. Trust and putting team members first leads to support for goals. This can be done through the manager setting critical goals. The team can set the rest , people support best that which they help create. Goals are marker posts, you drive into the future landscape between where you are and where you want to be. Goals focus attention productively. Values guide all plans, decisions and actions.

The second element, The Way of the Beaver, speaks of a playing field with clearly marked territory. Goals and values define the playing field and rules of the game. Leaders decide what position team members play in. Freedom to take charge comes from knowing exactly what territory is yours. Thoughts, feelings, needs, and dreams are respected, listened to, and acted upon. You can’t be in control unless the rest of the organization supports you and doesn’t rip you, or your work, apart. The Golden Rule of Management: Value Individuals as persons. Information is the gatekeeper to power. Everybody needs full open access to information. Managers must be willing to give up the levers of control they’ve worked a lifetime to get hold of. It’s tough to be boss without being bossy.

Another important factor to bear in mind is to make individuals targets challenging, but achievable. Expectations should be within capacity and skills. Also remember that nothing drains self-esteem faster than knowing you’re ripping off the system, not contributing. If people can’t do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, you demean them and drain their self esteem. Gung Ho requires a stretch of work that demands people’s best and allows them to learn and move ahead into uncharted territory.

The third and final element is the Gift of the Goose. Its speaks of Active or passive  congratulations that must be TRUE (i.e Heartfelt, not said for the sake of saying) . Congratulations are affirmations of who and what people are and that they do matter, and that they are making valuable contribution toward achieving the shared mission.

Telling people what a great job they’ve done or presenting an award is an active congratulation. Passive congratulations are such things as stepping aside and letting a team member go forward with a tricky, complicated, and important project, without exercising some sort of control or even offering advice.  You can’t overdo TRUE congratulations (i.e  Timely, Responsive, Unconditional, Enthusiastic)

Also remember that at football games fans don’t sit mute as the ball is moved down the field, waiting for the touchdown before cheering. Cheer the progress, not just the results.

Congratulations should be Spontaneous not Programmed, Individual not Blanket, Specific not General, Unique not Traditional.

Stop focusing on problems and the guilty party (police behaviour) and start looking for those responsible for things gone right (coach behaviour).

e=m x c+c (Enthusiasm = mission times cash and congratulations)

Worthwhile work and being in control of achieving the goal–that’s a mission. Cheering each other on brings enthusiasm to work. Cash comes first – you need to feed material needs, (food, clothing, etc.) before you can feed the spirit with congratulations.

The results that can be achieved with this theory are massive. Its a highly practical theory but implementing it and achieving results is up to you as a leader and will take a lot of time and patience, as always.


Written by Talal Cassim

April 5, 2010 at 7:27 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on claudetoland and commented:
    I have been a follower and believer in these principles since I first heard of them. Very motivational.

    Dr. Claude Toland

    June 3, 2014 at 6:25 pm

  2. I love this book.


    July 17, 2015 at 8:21 pm

  3. […] that I watched was cheesy at best but has, to this day, been a continual reference point for me. Realistic Perspectives, a blog reviewing the material, does an excellent job of describing the three philosophies […]

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