Book Review: TouchPoints, Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments

When it came to my attention that Doug Conant had written a leadership book, I knew it was going to be something I could sink my teeth into and I was not disappointed.  In full disclosure, I met Doug years ago when my wife worked for him at Nabisco.  He also reviewed our first book, Act Like an Owner.  Since his tenure at Nabisco, he went on to revitalize the iconic Cambell’s Soup CompanyTouchPointsfocuses mainly on his approach in turning a struggling consumer products company with a totally disengaged workforce into a high performing market darling with an energized and forward leaning workplace culture.

You might ask how applicable the leadership concepts in this book are to the mid market.  The quick answer is they are perfectly aligned.  The book title and the main theme are one in the same and leaders of small, medium or large organizations embracing this timeless concept will find their next generation leaders more aligned with the company’s vision and their workforce more excited and engaged.

Authors Conant and Norgaard suggest that leaders be BOTH tough minded on the issues and tender hearted with the people.  Showing you care leads to an engaged workforce and an engaged workforce is more productive.  While Conant was leading Campbell’s Soup, they employed the Gallup engagement test to rate the workforce’s level of engagement and over Conant’s tenure as CEO, the ratio of engaged employees to non-engaged employees rocketed from 2:1 to 17:1; far exceeding the Gallup Gold Standard of 12:1.  The proof is in the pudding … or in this case, the soup!

TouchPoints is loaded with practical advice from authors who view leadership not just as a an academic exercise or a competitive marketplace tool, but as a way to balance being ‘nice’ while still being ‘effective’. Framing the issues in such a way that the proper use of your head, heart and hands will lead to the right outcome.  Perhaps most importantly, outcomes that last!

So do I recommend this book?  I’ll put it this way – I first read TouchPoints on my Kindle and then bought a bunch more to hand out to colleagues.  Having read just about everything from Kotter and Bennis, Blanchard and DePree, Covey and Charan, and everything in between, I feel this book belongs not just on every leaders bookshelf, but open and dog-eared on the top of every leader’s desk.

Tomorrow, you’ll find yourself in about a half dozen TouchPoints … make them count!

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