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IntroductionIntroductionLeading at a Higher Level
This past year, my wife, Margie, and I went on a safari in South Africa with some family and friends. Margie and I have been on a number of safaris over the past 20 years. This time I saw some things I'd seen before but never quite as vividly. What I observed is how vicious, competitive, and territorial the jungle is. If you've ever heard a lion roar, it brings chills up your back. When our long-time guide, Gary Clarke from Topeka, Kansas, imitates the roar, he shouts, "It's mine, mine, mine, mine!" That's because when the lion roars, what he's really saying is, "This is my territory. Don't mess with me." In fact, lions will kill their sons if they challenge their control over the father's territory.
The reason I saw this more vividly than ever before is that I had decided on this trip that I was going to find out as much as I possibly could about Nelson Mandela. We had been at a dinner party where people around the table were asked to share what personof anyone in the worldthey would love to have dinner with. It was a quick decision for me. I said, "Nelson Mandela. I would love to have dinner with a man who was in prison for 28 years and treated cruelly, yet came out of that experience full of love, compassion, and reconciliation." On the trip, I began to read Mandela's book Long Walk to Freedom.
When I compared what I saw in the jungle with how Mandela had reacted to his treatment, I realized that in many ways we as human beings are just intelligent animals. And being intelligent animals, we canchoose between being self-serving and serving. The animals in the jungle can't make that choice. A rhino can't get up in the morning and say, "I'm going to make friends with the lion today." It's just not in their temperament. And yet, just as Mandela did, we can make choices to live and lead at a higher level. But when you look at the leaders around the worldwhether they're running countries, businesses, churches, educational institutions, or what have youtoo many people are choosing to be self-serving rather than serving. Why is that? Because they don't have a different leadership role model.
When I contemplated this dilemma, my thinking took me back to my days in graduate school, when I studied Paulo Freire, a revolutionary from Brazil. He wrote a fascinating book called The Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire argued that the problem with oppression is that once the oppressed throw off the oppressor, the only leadership role models they have are the very people who oppressed them. Thus, the oppressed become the new oppressors. The ramifications of this are dishearteningnot only for countries, but for every enterprise imaginable. This phenomenon creates a new breed of self-serving leaders overseeing a system where all the money, power, and recognition move up the hier-archy and away from the people the organization was established to serve.
I think the only answer to this recurring cycle is a different leadership role model. That's what this book is all abouthelping individuals and organizations lead at a higher level.Leading at a Higher Level
What is leadership? For years we defined leadership as an influence process. We believed that anytime you tried to influence the thoughts and actions of others toward goal accomplishment in either your personal or professional life, you were engaging in leadership. In recent years, we have changed our definition of leadership to the capacity to influence others by unleashing their power and potential to impact the greater good. We made this change for an important reason.
When the definition of leadership focuses on goal accomplishment, you can think that leadership is only about results. Yet when we talk about leading at a higher level, just focusing on goal accomplishment is not enough. The key phrase in our new definition is "the greater good"what is best for all involved. We think leadership is a high calling. Leadership should not be done purely for personal gain or goal accomplishment; it should have a much higher purpose than that.
What is a higher purpose? It is not something as internally focused and self-centered as making money. As Matt Hayes and Jeff Stevens contend in The Heart of Business, when it becomes obvious that profit, which is a legitimate goal, is the driving reason for being in business, everyonestockholders, top managers, employees, customers, suppliers, and the communityquickly becomes self-serving, with a focus on their own agenda and personal enrichment. Employee loyalty and passion often go out the window as the point of work becomes simply to get as much as you can for as little effort as possible.1
What is the answer to this dilemma? A higher purposea key element of what we will refer to throughout this book as a compelling vision. In Hayes and Stevens' terms, it is outwardly focused, must require sacrificein other words, it takes precedence over any short-term goal such as profitand is intrinsically honorable.
Leaders can be successful in the short run if they emphasize only goal accomplishment. What tends to fall by the wayside is the condition of the human organization. Leaders don't always take morale and job satisfaction into considerationonly results count. They forget what the point is. They don't have a higher purpose. In business, with that kind of leadership, it is a short leap to thinking that the only reason to be in business is to make money. There is an either/or added to people and results. Leaders falsely believe that they can't focus on both at the same time.
When you are leading at a higher level, you have a both/and philosophy. The development of peopleboth customers and employeesis of equal importance to performance. As a result, the focus in leading at a higher level is on long-term results and human satisfaction. Leading at a higher level, therefore, is a pro-cess. We define it as the process of achieving worthwhile results while acting with respect, care, and fairness for the well-being of all involved. When that occurs, self-serving leadership is not possible. Why?
Self-serving leaders think that leadership is all about them and not about the best interests of those they serve. They forget about acting with respect, care, and fairness for all involved. Everything is about their own self-interest. It's only when you realize that it's not about you that you begin to lead at a higher level.Why Are We Writing This Book?
We are writing this book for several reasons. First, our dream is that someday everyone will know someone who is leading at a higher level. Self-serving leaders will be a thing of the past, and leadership throughout the world will be composed of people who, as Robert Greenleaf said, "Serve first and lead second."2 We are writing this book to help make our dream a reality.
Second, the vision of The Ken Blanchard Companies is focused on leading at a higher level. This kind of leadership begins with a vision. Jesse Stoner and I wrote a book called Full Steam Ahead! about the power of visioning. To us, a compelling vision tells you who you are (your purpose), where you're going (your preferred picture of the future), and what will drive your journey (your values).
The purpose of The Ken Blanchard Companies is to help individuals and organizations lead at a higher level. Our mission statement reflects our new definition of leadership:
Unleash the power and potential of people and organizations for the greater good.
Our picture of the future is
- Everyone is trained to lead at a higher level.
- Every organization is led by people leading at a higher level.
- People are motivated to lead at a higher level by observing people who lead at a higher level.
Our operating values are
- EthicalDoing the right thing
- RelationshipsDeveloping mutual trust and respect
- SuccessOperating a profitable and well-run organization
- LearningAlways growing, inquiring, and developing
These values are ordered by rank. In other words, we won't do anything to improve the profitability of the company that is unethical or that doesn't honor the relationships we have with our customers, our people, our suppliers, and our community. We realize that making money is not the higher purpose of our business.
You might say that this all sounds like Pollyannaoverly optimistic. That may be, but these are the standards we have set for ourselves. And these are the same high standards we want to help you and the people in your organization reach through this book. Helping individuals and organizations lead at a higher level is our passion, for both your organization and our own.
Finally, in many ways this book spells out our leadership point of view. Extensive research shows that effective leaders have a clear leadership point of view and are willing to share with others these beliefs about leading and motivating people. We hope reading this book will impact your leadership point of view.How This Book Is Organized
Over the years, I have found that in organizations where leading at a higher level is the rule rather than the exception, people do four things well:
- They set their sights on the right target and vision.
- They treat their customers right.
- They treat their people right.
- They have the right kind of leadership.
This book is organized into four sections. Section I focuses on the right target and vision and integrates our work on the triple bottom line, the characteristics of a high performing organization, and creating a compelling vision.
Section II highlights treating the customer right and integrates our work on legendary service, raving fans, and customer mania. Today, everybody should realize that their customers are the reason their organization exists.
Section III focuses on treating your people right. This is where the rubber meets the road. If you don't empower your people and treat them right, they won't take care of your customers, and in the long run, you won't get your desired results. This is the longest section of the book, because your treatment of people is leadership in action. This is what The Ken Blanchard Companies has been focusing on for more than 25 years. In this section, we start with empowerment and then examine four leadership domains: self leadership, one-on-one leadership, team leadership, and organizational leadership.
Effective leadership of people starts with looking at yourselfwho you are, what you stand for, and how you take initiative when you don't have position power. Without this kind of perspective, it's hard to be effective at one-on-one leadership, where building a partnership based on trust is key. Once you know how to work with individuals, you can begin to build a team and a sense of community. Leading a team is much more complicated than one-on-one leadership and is a precursor to engaging in organizational leadership, which is the most complex leadership domain.
Section IV zeros in on the right kind of leadership. Here we're not talking about leadership style; we're talking about character and intentionality. My travels over the years through organizations of all shapes and sizes have convinced me of two things: Effective leadership starts on the inside, and the right kind of leadership is servant leadership. This is a leadership not based on false pride or fear, but one that's grounded in humility and focused on the greater good. With the right kind of leadership, leading at a higher level can become a reality.
This section also includes our thoughts on determining your leadership point of view. This turns the focus to you. Here we assist you in pulling together many of the concepts you have learned and help you integrate and apply that knowledge to your own leadership situation.
Writing this book has been a labor of love. It pulls together our best thinking from more than 25 years of working together. It truly is Blanchard on Leadership. It includes not only Margie's and my thinking, but also all the wonderful contributions of our founding associatesDon Carew, Eunice Parisi-Carew, Fred Finch, Laurie Hawkins, Drea Zigarmi, and Pat Zigarmiand other fabulous consulting partners who have really made Blanchard "the home of the authors," including Alan Randolph, Jesse Stoner, Fay Kandarian, Susan Fowler, Judd Hoekstra, and our son, Scott Blanchard.
We think everyone can lead at a higher level, whether at work, at home, or in the community. We hope that, regardless of your position, the size or type of your organization, or the kind of customers or people you serve, you will learn some important information in this book that will help you lead at a higher level and create a high performing organization that not only accomplishes your desired results but is a welcome harbor for the people you touch. May good come out of your reading of this book.
San Diego, California
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