What are the odds of a 33-year-old self-avowed graduate from Springsteen U turning around the sales performance of a Xerox district office so spectacularly that it makes national headlines?
Probably about as likely as Ed McMahon showing up on your doorstep with that sweepstakes check in hand. Nonetheless, Frank Pacetta's story (told with Roger Gittines) is true . . . and he tells it succinctly in Don't Fire Them, Fire Them Up: A Maverick's Guide to Motivating Yourself and Your Team (Simon & Schuster, $23 cloth).
"If I had been my boss, I would have fired me at several points along the way," confesses Pacetta. "Fortunately, I hung on and matured."
Pacetta matured enough to guide Xerox's Cleveland sales office to a first-place regional finish within a year. Considering the office was nearly dead last when Pacetta took the helm, that's no small achievement.
"Leadership starts and ends with people," says Pacetta, who emphasizes the importance of getting the highest-caliber performance possible from employees. His management tips run the gamut from practicing what you preach (walk the talk, as he puts it) to backing up your people. But it all centers around one crucial, unequivocal element: respect.
"What you need--and I don't care where it comes from--is respect for people," urges Pacetta. "If it's not there . . . forget management."
Entrepreneurs looking to improve their management skills will learn from and enjoy Pacetta's words of wisdom. You're duly warned, however, that the author doesn't take you on a free ride. "Dip into these pages," writes Pacetta, "find something that makes sense, and . . . go do it! Don't expect me to do all the work."
And you thought reading was supposed to be relaxing?