20 QUESTIONS WITH KEN BLANCHARD

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The author of “The One Minute Manager” discusses servant leadership and changing your management philosophy.

1. Your first book, “Management of Organizational Behavior,” introduced situational leadership and has been a best seller for 40 years. Did you ever think it would have that much staying power?
Not a chance! Paul Hersey and I both were unknown. We were always looking for ways to make the complicated simple.

2. You wrote “The One Minute Manager” with Spencer Johnson. Was keeping it simple the plan?
Yes. Spencer was a children’s book writer and I was a storyteller, so we agreed we would write a parable. For more than three decades, the simple tools of One Minute Goals and One Minute Praisings continue to produce great results and human satisfaction.

3. When did you know you were on to something?
We self-published “The One Minute Manager” in 1980 and sold more than 700 copies.

4. You don’t show signs of slowing down?
If you stop learning, you might as well lie down because you’re already brain dead.

5. Why does it seem politicians and CEOs who fail lack leadership skills? 
The world is in desperate need of a new leadership role model. I don’t think self-serving leaders lack skills; it’s just they think leadership is all about them.

6. Has money become too large for some to put company first?
Self-centered leadership happens at all income levels. On the other hand, you can have great leaders at all income levels, too. You don’t necessarily need a powerful position to be a good leader.

7. Do small business owners have the same leadership challenges? 
Absolutely. It’s just the magnitude that’s different. You have to provide vision and direction to inspire and motivate people.

8. What is servant leadership?
There are two parts to servant leadership: vision/direction and implementation. It’s the leader’s responsibility to make sure the vision is set. That’s the leadership aspect of servant leadership. Implementation is the servant aspect of servant leadership.

9. What type of personalities have you found to be effective as servant leaders?
I know servant leaders with all types. The common denominator of all these people is they have a servant heart.

10. What should every leader consider?
The world is desperately in need of a new leadership role model. I don’t think a person can become a truly great leader until they understand they’re here to serve not be served.

11. What other types of models are most effective?
All the great leadership models imply servant leadership. You can’t become a situational leader unless the people you’re leading have clear, observable, measureable goals.

12. What mistakes do leaders make?
They’re so busy dealing with today’s problems that they’re not paying attention to tomorrow. It’s a mistake to task people with present time leadership positions to plan the future.

13. Why is it so difficult for organizations to look toward the future?
Because they’re either overwhelmed with the present or have a vested interest in it.

14. What does it take to change your philosophy?
A willingness to be honest about what’s working and what’s not. Then you have to be humble enough to admit your mistakes and smart enough to learn from them and learn from other people.

15. Why is it important to be a role model for your employees?
People tend to do as you do, not as you say. Leaders can’t just give lip service to things such as their commitment to the vision and values — they have to live them.

16. Any recent books?
“The New One Minute Manager” is very exciting as we think the One Minute concepts will reach a whole new audience of leaders.

17. What have you learned about working with family?
If you want to run a successful family business, you have to provide some structure around it.

18. Change requires strategy, process and communications. Is one more important?
They’re all important. Not having a strategy for your change is like navigating without a map. Don’t be surprised if you don’t arrive where you intended to go! Likewise, if you don’t take the time to develop a process during which you allow people to surface and communicate their concerns about the change, chances are good the change won’t happen.

19. Why implement change management? 
An opportunity for change management occurs when there’s a difference between what you want to see happening and what’s happening. If your organization is not on track to achieve its vision; if you’re not seeing the outcomes you desire; if you’re having problems with budgeting, productivity, or morale, then it’s time to consider a journey toward change.

20. Your firm offers dozens of services. Do you have a favorite?
My favorite leadership style is Situational Leadership II. For more than 45 years it’s been considered the most effective way to lead and motivate people. It has passed the test of time. So has “The One Minute Manager.”

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