Robert (Bob) Townsend (1920-98)
The successful boss of Avis, the car hire company, from 1962-5
One of the first management gurus with his bestselling book, Up the Organization (Townsend is
pictured right on the front cover).
Up the Organization
The most successful organizations satisfy their customers by satisfying their employees.
Douglas McGregor’s (pictured right) Theory
Y is best because of its belief in self-motivating employees by making work fun
Therefore, employees should be given:
- stocks (shares) in the company (so sharing in its profits).
- control over decision making (decisions should be made at the lowest possible
It is also vital to:
- reduce meetings to a minimum.
- fire any unnecessary department i.e. public relations, advertising, personnel (human
resources) and purchasing - outsource your supplies instead.
Leaders and managers should be:
Gratitude is “a really neglected form of compensation”.
Acting as coaches.
Not conning anybody (including customers, employees and suppliers).
- judging people only on performance.
- removing management privileges ( like reserved car parking spaces).
5. Decisive and effective
- keeping standards of excellence.
- making sure people blame themselves for their mistakes (not others).
- getting results through doing something worthwhile, not “just building another monument to
some diseased ego”.
- the opportunity to challenge each other.
Doing what’s most important.
- being brutal on time wasting.
- pushing people hard through tight budgets.
10. Patient and purposeful
Making sure employees focus on achieving the organization’s objectives.
Key quote on business success
If you can’t do it excellently, don’t do it at all. Because if it’s not excellent, it won’t be profitable or
fun, and if you’re not in business for fun or profit, what the hell are you doing here?
Key quote on
You can’t motivate people. That door is locked from the inside. You can create a climate in which most of your
people will motivate themselves to help the company to reach its objectives.
Rewarding outstanding performances is important. Much more neglected is the equally important need to make sure
that the underachievers don’t get rewarded.
Key quotes on leadership and management
The best managers think of themselves as playing coaches.
True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders.
Hubris is the unforgivable sin of acting cocky when things are going well. As the Greeks tiresomely told us,
Hubris is followed inexorably and inevitably by Nemesis.