Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Secret: What Great Leaders Know And Do (2009) Book Review

The Secret: What Great Leaders Know And Do (2nd Edition 2004, 2009)
by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller

Am I a serving leader or a self-serving leader? For Ken and Mark, to lead is to serve. The Secret is a well-known international bestseller for a leadership book, and I'm excited to read and review it. Why? The format of this book is easy to read. They presenting major leadership topics in a way that is enjoyable, easy to understand, and applicable. I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone – especially young people – who aspire to be a great leader. Bottom line: If you want to be a great leader, get this book, read it, and apply it!

Both authors are great teachers and story-tellers. In their fictional character, Debbie Brewster, a young executive, they tell about her journey to become a more effective leader – servant leader. When asked about "What is a leader?" Debbie came out with at least three answers: first, "a leader is the person in charge"; secondly, "a leader is the person in the position that others report to"; third, "a leader is a person who makes things happen." Finally, she settled with this definition: "A leader is a person in a position of authority who is responsible for the results of those under his or her direction." When she met her mentor, Jeff Brown, he explained to her that actually "true leadership has nothing to do with one's level in the organization… great leaders SERVE." A person can serve without leading, but a true leader can't lead well without serving. Throughout many months of mentoring, Jeff explains to Debbie how leader SERVE:

SEE THE FUTURE. "Leadership is about taking people from one place to another. One of the leader's top priorities must be to assure that the team knows where you are headed. Seeing the future is all about creating a compelling vision and is one of the privileges and most serious demands of leaders. It may sometimes be difficult to determine where the enterprise should be heading. But heading somewhere is a must. Envisioning and communicating a future-oriented vision is a huge part of leadership." Keyword is Vision. Vision must be constantly communicated or it will faded in people's minds. What do I want my organization or team or group to accomplish? What would that look like? How would we measure our success? What is our benchmark?

ENGAGE AND DEVELOP OTHERS. "Engage has two distinct components. The first has to do with selection… Getting the right people in the right jobs… [and the second] has to do with the level of buy-in people have for a cause, their work, and a leader. You want to do more than enlist their hands – you want to engage their heads and hearts also… with every pair of hands you hire, you get a free brain." Developing others, on the other hand, is about investing in the development of the people. It involves "creating the expectation for learning and growing; creating training and development opportunities; providing education resources… even mentoring." The keyword is people. What do my people need to be more engaged? How can I help my people grow – as a group and individually?

REINVENT CONTINUOUSLY. "First, great leaders Reinvent Continuously on a personal level. They are always interested in ways to enhance their own knowledge and skills. The very best leaders are learners. They like to read and are always open to training that will help them perform better… if you stop learning, you stop leading"; "The second part of Reinvent Continuously applies with systems and processes. Great leaders are always seeking answers to questions like these: How can we do the work better? How can we do it with fewer errors? How can we do it faster? How can we do it for less?" The keyword is Improvement. Progress is impossible without change.

VALUE RESULTS AND RELATIONSHIPS. Ultimate success always includes both people and performance. "The way to maximize your results as a leader is to have high expectations for both results and relationships. If we can take care of our customers and create a motivating working environment for our people, profits and financial strength are the applause we get for a job well done. You see, success is both results and relationships. It's a proven formula." The keyword is Success. What happens if I overvalue results? What happens if I overvalue relationships? What will be the consequences if I don't broaden my definition of success?

EMBODY THE VALUES. "You must gain the trust of your people. If you don't have their trust, you'll never be a great leader." But what does trust have to do with embodying the values? "All genuine leadership is built on trust. There are many ways to build trust. One way is to live consistently with the values you profess. If I say customers are important, my actions had better support that statement. If I choose to live as if customers are not important, people will have reason to question my trustworthiness. And in the final analysis, if I am deemed untrustworthy by my people, I will not be trusted – or followed as a leader." The keyword is Credibility. What values do I want to drive the behavior of my organization? How can I communicate these values? Which of these values do I need to work on?

Leader SERVE: SEE THE FUTURE, ENGAGE AND DEVELOP OTHERS, REINVENT CONTINUOUSLY, VALUE RESULTS AND RELATIONSHIPS, & EMBODY THE VALUES. As I finished reading this awesome book, I need to ask myself these few reflection questions: What have I learned about leadership from this book? Why does it matter? What do I do with all that I've learned? What am I willing to do today to improve my leadership? What one thing can I put into practice this week? Who can I ask for help? (Mean, who I can ask to mentor me in leadership and personal development?). Last month I've read The Heart of Leadership by Mark Miller, then this book and currently Great Leaders Grow by Ken and Mark. I've learned tremendously from this series. I've use lessons I learned from The Heart of Leadership to trained young leaders, and I wish to use The Secret for the next leadership training. Buy this book!


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