REVIEW: Zina Sutch and Patrick Malone — Leading with Love and Laughter (BOOK)
Zina Sutch and Patrick Malone’s new book is something that you don’t initially know what to expect from, but quickly turns out to be something you didn’t know you needed. The book is equal parts leadership advice guide, inspirational read, and interactive reading experience. The concepts it promotes, while arguably to be applied within a distinctly corporate framework, can also be carried out to fruition within one’s personal life. In essence, the book is the duo’s literary argument for leading one’s life and those around one’s self with a sense of joy, optimism, and enthusiasm. Nurture no longer bears the kind of flippant, shall we say ‘snowflake’ qualities the old guards of industry once tried to brand it with. If anything, the opposite has proven to be the name of the game. Industry leaders and large-scale corporate enterprises are beginning to both adopt and reintroduce more decidedly right-brain, almost spiritual and deliberately holistic elements to their respective approaches.
All this Sutch and Malone salute the efforts of, because as far as they are concerned, a joyful environment is synonymous with a productive one — no matter what the context. “Leaders…with a keen sense of humor, are accomplished, have high standards, hold employees accountable, coach, develop, and serve as role models,” Sutch and Malone write. “You too can be one of these leaders by embracing a little comedy, being courageous, being humble, being able to laugh at yourself with others, and having the social awareness to understand when and how to provide this safe space where the humor is appropriate and not offensive.” They go on to elaborate: “It’s about truly letting go of some of the uptightness with which we carry ourselves. When people can laugh together, a bond is created by that experience, a closeness, a trust. Laughter creates a communal space and a feeling of belonging. Employees and bosses become part of the same team.”
Such sentiments are indicative of a considerably post-modern rhetoric. But such an approach is being embraced in all aspects of industry around the country as we speak. Whether or not you agree, this is a thing, and this is the future. That is the one place where Sutch and Malone don’t hold back, and don’t come across as such a light set of presences. As much as the book highlights in candid and uplifting prose the specifics of the tactics and methodologies ultimately promoted, there’s also no denying the sense of urgency with which Sutch and Malone present the fundamental cruxes of their ideas. It’s particularly crucial to adapt within a world that is continually plagued with scandal — be it in the forms highlighted by the #TimesUp Movement and the #MeToo Movement, advocates for equal pay, Dr. Stacy Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, and with that the rise of the Inclusion Rider concept itself.
But in spite of such astute seriousness on this front, Sutch and Malone are quick to reign in the topicality and focus of their philosophy to the more light aspects of maintaining said atmosphere(s). In their words, shamelessly even, it just makes thing so much more fun. It engages everyone in the workplace in a sense of shared enthusiasm, everyone playing key parts in helping the ship reach the respective port. It’s that part of the read that really makes it genuinely appealing, and that Sutch and Malone craftily leave you thinking about as much as you are with respect to everything else. It makes for a nice change from the more high-handed and preachy tonal balances so-called ‘experts’ in various business fields often proselytize from. While the evidence-based theories and expert observational tendencies are very real in a data-backed, presentational form — it’s Sutch and Malone’s affability that drives the points home so effectively.