Before even opening this book, the title caught my eye. Whenever we think of words with the prefix “re” before it—words like review, rewind, re-do—we automatically think of things or situations that we must execute again. ReLaunch was no different. This book took me through the stages of “turnaround leadership,” as Dr. Mark Rutland likes to call it, and shows what it means to grow an organization from shambles to one that sees new purpose and vision.
Dr. Rutland does this by recounting his own successful turnarounds in organizations he had led. From Calvary Church all the way to the Presidency of Oral Roberts University, Dr. Rutland became seasoned at the fine art of turnaround leadership. From the start of the book, he emphasizes that turnaround leadership is not an easy task; it requires courage to recognize where the organization is and reveal the prospect for the future. He says that leadership is the art of “asking the meaning—the dream—of an organization and doggedly executing a careful plan to make it so.” I found that phrase interesting; in essence, it’s a simple thing to understand, but very hard to manage.
In his book, he creates seven steps to become an effective turnaround leader. He tells us to face the facts, communicate the vision, make the message align, create a strategy to execute, manage a shifting culture, monitor the quality of what’s being put out, and, lastly, celebrate success. All of these steps require careful attention.
In the book, he writes of how the job of a turnaround leader is to manage a controlled environment against a chaotic environment, knowing the balance each needs to have in the organization. This was the most striking aspect of the book. As I consider temperaments, personality types, etc., I think in terms of my own type and how I lead from that temperament or trait. Dr. Rutland explains that as a leader, you must think for the organization, balancing multiple types of personalities, temperaments, etc. That can only happen when the vision of what an organization can become is clearly communicated and outside of the organization’s capability at the time. It makes everyone strive for something together. Before you know it, the organization has turned around.
There are many personal stories and bits of advice for a leader who is set on turning an organization around. One thing Dr. Rutland mentions is that as turnaround leaders, one must be willing to come in, turn the organization around and ride out of town—much like a marshal came into an old town in the west, cleaned it up, and established a mayor. I agree and disagree with that statement. I agree that sometimes it takes a new leader with a fresh pair of eyes to take the reins of an organization. However, at the same time I disagree since the principles Dr. Rutland outlines can be implemented with the current leader of an organization. I don’t think a new leader is required after a turnaround is reached.
This was a great book and a great read; it helped me understand more about the visionary and communicative aspects of leadership.