I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Tom Gartland since 2012, when Avis first became a marketing partner of the PGA Tour. Avis continues to be a valued sponsor for the Tour, and we have Tom largely to thank for making it happen.
What was apparent about Tom from the outset was that when he has a vested interest in a business relationship, he’s all in. The commitment of Tom and his team was absolute, and it helped set the foundation for what has proven to be a lasting, mutually rewarding association. In looking back, our dealings also provided insight into the corporate culture that Tom instilled at Avis, which in turn was reflective of the leadership philosophy he describes in this book.
I believe our organizations have worked well together in large part because of commonality in priorities and the way we respect and work with our employees and partners. Although the PGA Tour grew from a small operation to a multi-faceted, global organization, my predecessor, Deane Beman, and I strived to maintain a family culture that emphasized a strong connection with our employees, celebration of successes, and giving back to others.
What Tom was able to do at Avis, remarkably, was instill that same close-knit, family philosophy throughout a corporation with several thousand locations and twenty thousand employees. I knew of his reputation as an outstanding executive. But it’s the story of how he got there, the self-enlightenment that ultimately became the driving force behind his leadership at Avis, that is truly fascinating.
While there are countless books on the topic of leadership, it’s rare that one comes along that provides such unique perspective. The approach he purposely adopted when he came to Avis was bold and unconventional, for sure. As the title implies, Lead with Heart abandons the mentality that leaders shouldn’t stray beyond their confidants within the organization and get too close to others. Instead, he believed that building strong relationships, outwardly demonstrating compassion and care, would permeate the entire organization and create a thriving, productive workplace.
I admire Tom for taking such a bold, unconventional approach to “humanize” his leadership, and Lead with Heart is an entertaining and informative read to better understand the reaction of his team members, from the doubts to full acceptance of his authenticity to adapting the same philosophy themselves.
I know you’ll enjoy this remarkable journey and gain valuable insight from Tom’s bold departure from the norm in corporate leadership.
Tim Finchem, former Commissioner of the PGA TOUR