Saturday, March 23, 2019

Self-Leadership and the One Minute Manager (2018) by Ken Blanchard, Book Review and 5 Lessons I Learned

Self-Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Gain the Mindset and Skillset for Getting What You Need to Succeed (2018, Revised Edition)
by Ken Blanchard with Susan Fowler & Laurence Hawkins

Next to John C. Maxwell, Ken Blanchard is one of the writers who has influenced and shaped the way I think and practice leadership. Most of his books, perhaps except Lead Like Jesus, are short, concise and filled with pearls of wisdom. What’s unique about Blanchard – and other co-writers of The One Minute Manager Series – is that he can teach leadership principles and skills in a fun way through narrative and interesting story. Some of the books that make a difference in my leadership-life are The Secret and Great Leaders Grow in which he co-authored with Mark Miller. I fully recommend any of Blanchard’s books.

Now, about the book… There is one fact that every leader must understand: If a leader can’t lead him/herself effectively, everything else in the leader’s life will be a struggle. Self-leadership comes first. Some of the toughest challenges you face as a leader, I think, come from the way you lead yourself. You may assume them come from someone or something else, when you actually need to look at yourself as the source. Ken Blanchard writes, “Today it’s imperative that people become self-leaders – individuals capable of setting priorities, taking initiative, and solving problems independently.” Yes, you need to become a leader who is a proactive contributor and not just reactive order-taker. In today’s fast-changing world, self-leaders are all the more important. Blanchard observes, “Our research shows that when individual contributors and managers align around self-leadership, both become more engaged and produce better results. As a result, customers are happier and organizations become more profitable.” He continues, “In fact, a culture of self-leadership is the hallmark of great organizations.” Are you ready to be a self-leader?

 This book starts with a disillusioned account executive, Steve, who meets an off-beat magician, Cayla. She talks him through his problems until they “magically” became mentor-mentee. Basically, self-leadership can be summed up into what the One Minute Manager told Steve in the last chapter of this book, namely: “Self-leaders challenge assumed constraints, activate their points of power and are proactive about getting what they need to succeed” (page 127). Let me share 5 lessons I learned from this book:

#1 Accept the Responsibility for Getting What You Need. When Steve initially failed with his proposal, he immediately played a victim and blame-game on his boss and team. But upon reflection, Steve realized that he didn't ask for any help from his boss nor did he give his creative team the direction and guidance they required from him. People are not mind-readers and they can't be expected to know what you want or need if you don't explain it to them. You need to take responsibility for creating the situation you are in (whether it be good or bad).

#2 Challenge Assumed Constraints. An assumed constraint is a set of beliefs you have, based on past experience that limits your current and future experiences (also referred to as “Elephant Thinking.” To read about it, CLICK HERE). There is a quote that says something like this: “Whether you think you can or can't, you're right.

#3 The “Points of Power.” Steve initially believed that the only form of power that existed in the business world was “position power.” Actually, he (and most of us) failed to understand that there are actually four (4) forms of power: 1) Knowledge Power; 2) Task Power; 3) Relationship Power, and 5) Personal Power. Steve had to learn that although he had position power, he still lacked many of the pieces required to put the entire puzzle together. He had to work as part of a team and maximize the different powers each and every individual had to offer.

#4 Developing a Continuum. “There is a joy in diagnosing your development level and getting the direction and support you need to achieve your goal.” There are four (4) stages to this continuum and each stage is factored by a level of competence and commitment:

Stage 1: Low Competence, High Commitment [Need: Direction]
Stage 2: Low to Some Competence, Low Commitment [Need: Coaching]
Stage 3: Moderate to High Competence, Variable Commitment [Need: Supporting]
Stage 4: High Competence, High Commitment [Need: Delegating]

#5 The Power of Collaboration and “I NEED.” Steve needed to stop making excuses, identify what points of power he possessed, where he was lacking and where he was on the Development Continuum. From there he was able to assess his needs and admit them to those around him. He needed a lot of direction and support. By admitting these needs to his boss and team, he found everyone was more than willing to help. They were all working towards the same goal and everybody wanted to succeed. Steve simply needed to collaborate with others. “The two most powerful words to get what you need to succeed are, ‘I NEED.’

I love this quote:
Empowerment is something someone gives you.
Self-leadership is what you do to make it work.”

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