Sunday, November 09, 2008

Seagull Management Redefined: Book Review

By: J Williamson, Jargontalk

The term Seagull Manager dates back to the late '80s, and was used in an article by Michael Madison, who used it to describe a particular management approach of interacting with employees, of only dealing with them when a problem arises, making quick-fire decisions about things, then leaving and letting others have to deal with all of the mess left behind. But is was Ken Blanchard who really quantified the term in his 1999 book , Leadership and the One Minute Manager. where he said something like: Seagull managers fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, then fly out.

Read this line those years ago, and for awhile enjoyed the guilty pleasure of quoting it when dealing with issues as a middle manager. And if you've never dealt with Seagull Management yourself, then just think of Donald Trump in his NBC reality show, The Apprentice, where he walked in and so often uttered his now-famous line ”This one's easy for me... you're fired.”

That's 'seagull management.'

When I saw a blurb in print about the forthcoming release of Squawk!: How to Stop Making Noise and Start Getting Results it was interesting, and more so because the author was Travis Bradberry, Ph.D., and his management seminars have become famous. Have I attended one of them? No, but I have suggested them to others, then looked over the material they brought back. And Dr. Bradberry's book looks like it was tailor-made for his seminars.

It's not a difficult read, and as you make your way through the pages, following the adventures of Charlie, a seagull manager, you'll pick up a number of good, solid middle-management pointers. It's an easy-to-follow narrative, and has an often humorous story line. Dr. Bradberry shows us the three crucial qualities of leadership that help us deal with seagull managers in the workplace. And if you're really lucky, you might even see yourself as a “Charlie the Seagull Manager," and be able to identify areas worthy of self-improvement.

If you're a middle manager, get this book. Once you've finished with it, think if you want to loan it to your boss, or maybe buy copies for some who report to you. You might like it and you might not, but this reader found it to be an engaging and worthy read.

You might want to also consider a couple of Dr. Bradberry's other books The Personality Code or The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book to add your own management or leadership library.

In truth, I didn't like this book at first, and was thinking ”been-there-done-that" in the first thirty or so pages. I found Charlie to be irritating, but as the parable continued, found myself warming to it and to the seagulls and the other critters. In the end had to admit that it was a better book than I had first thought.

OK, enough of my squawking... it's an easy 5-star read.

Go to and vote on Jargontalk’s review.


Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA said...

We called it "lighting leadership" as in "leave alone, zap."

JargonTalk said...

Nice to see my review of Travis Bradberry's book here. Also good to see that the link to the "Genuine Talking Donald J. Trump Collectible Action Figure" held up here, as he's got to be the perfect example of a Seagull Manager, that's for sure!

Thanks, Christine!

Swanktrendz said...

We thought this review was good enough to bring it as much exposure as possible. Well done Lexi/John.

JargonTalk said...

Many thanks for the compliments!