Nine Minutes on Monday: The Quick and Easy Way to Go From Manager to Leader

Nine Minutes on Monday: The Quick and Easy Way to Go From Manager to Leader

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by James Robbins

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The Globe & Mail's #1 Business Book of the Year!


Low performance and high turnover is not the result of lazy, apathetic workers. It's not about decreasing budgets. And it's not about a terrible economy.

It's about leadership that doesn't engage employees.

In Nine Minutes on Monday, leadership guru

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The Globe & Mail's #1 Business Book of the Year!


Low performance and high turnover is not the result of lazy, apathetic workers. It's not about decreasing budgets. And it's not about a terrible economy.

It's about leadership that doesn't engage employees.

In Nine Minutes on Monday, leadership guru James Robbins argues that employee engagement comes down to one thing: a constant dedication to meeting the universal needs that drive performance excellence. In today's chaotic, high-stakes business environment, it is easy to get distracted from leadership responsibilities by focusing on tasks at hand instead of on strategy. But when you neglect to keep your leadership priorities in front of you, everyone suffers--your staff, your organization and, in the end, you.

Whether you lead a small team or an entire organization, you’ll discover the nine keys to raising productivity, boosting morale, and increasing employee engagement. Nine Minutes on Monday combines proven engagement drivers and principles of human motivation into a simple system of execution that will show immediate results. Inside you'll find:

  • The "9 Minute" template for maintaining focus on your leadership priorities--no matter how busy you are
  • Three key questions that will help you connect purpose to paycheck for your staff
  • A four-step formula for addressing subpar performance and driving complacency from the workplace
  • A simple coaching model for fast-track staff development
  • Four reward/recognition tools that will leave your employees feeling valued and motivated
  • The one simple activity that will forge deep bonds of trust between you and your employees
  • Three key ingredients that will immediately increase the motivation level of any employee

Being a great leader is never easy, but Robbins breaks it all down into essential components to reveal its fundamental simplicity. Nine Minutes on Monday is your road map to igniting purpose, passion, and engagement among your team members. Master and apply the tools and techniques inside, and your employees will be motivated, inspired, and equipped to bring their best to work each and every day.

Quick and simple leadership lessons for boosting performance, morale, and engagement

"James Robbins is a terrifi c observer, thinker, and storyteller. He also has marvelous insights about how leaders can help employees become more connected to their work setting. He weaves together personal stories with thoughtful leadership insights into a compelling book. If leaders will do the nine minutes he suggests each Monday morning, they will become what we have called ‘meaning makers' who deliver enormous value to their employees, customers, investors, and communities." -- Dave Ulrich, professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan; partner, The RBL Group; coauthor, The Why of Work

"It really works! Robbins provides simple and practical tools to help all managers get on the road toward becoming great leaders. These nine easy-to-use principles are relevant to today's work environment and yet so often overlooked. Thank you for helping me to make a difference to my team." -- Sue Travis, HR Manager, Lowe's

"Every manager in your workplace needs this book. Practical and easily doable ideas that will help turn your managers into truly inspiring leaders." -- Michael Kerr, "The Workplace Energizer" and author of Putting Humor to Work

"Great easy read with lots of practical applications for leaders looking to improve their game and really make a difference in the lives of those they lead." -- Debbie Stein, CFO AltaGas

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Nine Minutes on Monday

The Quick and Easy Way to Go From Manager to Leader


The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2013James Robbins
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-180199-7



Why Mountain Climbers Make Lousy Mountain Guides

The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.

—Henry Kissinger

The meeting lasted only a few minutes. When you are perched on the side of a mountain at 20,000 feet above sea level, it's not a good idea to sit around. We had been steadily making our way up the southwest side of Mt. Sajama, the highest peak in Bolivia and one of the highest in the western hemisphere. We still had over 1,500 vertical feet to go before reaching the summit, and it was almost noon. As tired as we were, it looked like this was as high as we would get. Osvaldo, our guide, radioed base camp, informing the people there that we had stopped in order to make a decision. The choices were simple—continue on toward the summit or abandon our attempt to reach the summit and retreat. The entire expedition to climb Mt. Sajama now rested in the hands of our leader.

We had been in Bolivia for nearly three weeks, climbing and acclimating to get ready for our attempt at Sajama. That morning at 2:30 a.m. we left high camp at 18,000 feet under the cover of darkness. There were five of us roped together, moving slowly under the lights of our headlamps, ever upward toward the glacier. Before sunrise, Jack, one of our team members, was having difficulty. After being assessed by our lead guide, John, the decision was made to take Jack back down to base camp. With our lead guide now departing for base camp with Jack in tow, there were just three of us left to go for the summit—Jim, a 33-year-old from North Carolina, Osvaldo, a Bolivian climbing guide who now took over for John, and me.

As we made our way up and onto the snow pack, the ground was littered with penitente, a type of snow formation common in South America that resembled pinnacles stretching up toward the sky. Our steel crampons chewed into the snow and ice as we made painstakingly slow progress toward a summit we could not see. Climbing at such altitudes can take a toll on your body, and just after sunrise Jim was beginning to feel the effects as he labored to continue. I could tell that Jim was getting tired as he stopped repeatedly and made comments about how hard this was.

The mountain was beginning to wear Jim down by slowly stripping away his will. The problem for Jim and me, however, was that we were down to our last guide and our last length of rope. If Jim quit now, we would all have to turn back; our quest for the summit would be over. Jim knew this and did his best to continue, but I began to doubt that he would last. What Jim needed now was motivation. What he could have really used was a motivational speaker climbing right behind him. Unfortunately, all he had was me, but, hey, I knew what to do. For the next hour I continued to spur Jim on with words of encouragement, looking for anything that would keep him going.

Then, sometime around mid-morning, something happened. It felt as if someone had sneaked up behind me and pulled my plug, draining away all my energy. My legs felt like heavy tree trunks, and an overwhelming feeling of fatigue washed over me. Because of a problem with our stove earlier in the day, we had limited water, and by not drinking enough, our bodies were beginning to feel the effects of dehydration. It was not long before I began to question my own ability to reach the summit. Soon my doubts began to erode my desire to reach the top as my aching body redirected my thoughts to the down-filled sleeping bag awaiting me in base camp. My desires were no longer to conquer the mountain, but to end this agony.

Now I had a problem. If I called it quits, it was over for all of us. I would be the cause of the failed expedition. It even crossed my mind that this story might not make a very good speech. As I searched for a way to escape my situation, a brilliantly creative and innovative solution came to me. As has been said, necessity is the mother of all invention.

"I don't need to quit!" I reasoned to myself, thinking with a brain a bit short on oxygen. "I just need Jim to quit." Because if Jim quit, I could too. It would be like an honorable discharge from the mountain. I could still go home and tell all my friends that I would have made the top if it was not for this other guy. I also believed I could outlast him because I was in very good shape at the time. So my encouraging words to keep Jim going began to be fewer and farther apart. After all, I surely didn't want to motivate him. However, I knew that Jim realized what was at stake and did not want to let me down. I knew what he was thinking and—I am ashamed to say this now, but I did something terrible—I opened the door a bit wider for Jim. I decided that, during one of our short rests, I would give Jim permission to quit. I would say to him, "Listen if you need to go down, that's OK with me."

I think Osvaldo sensed what was going on, which is why he decided to stop and call a meeting. Over the hours our pace had slowed, our attitudes had deteriorated, and I think both Jim and I wanted to give up, but neither of us wanted to be the first to suggest it. With crampons dug into the snow to keep from sliding down the mountain, Osvaldo got on the radio and, in his thick Bolivian accent, sent a transmission to base camp.

"Base camp, clients are tired. We are going to decide what to do next, whether to continue on or turn around and head back to base camp."

There we sat, the Atacama desert a few thousand feet below, with only the sound of a light wind teasing the mountain. Vince Lombardi, legendary football coach, once said, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." Indeed, there we were, convinced we had reached our limit and longing for the home fires of base camp. The mountain demanded more than we could give, and now the fate of our expedition lay in the hands of Osvaldo, our leader. If we were to continue upward, it would require something extraordinary from him.

How do you get others to do something they feel they cannot do? How do you motivate people to do more, and be more, when they believe they are at their limit? Is motivation something we can do to people, or does it need to come from within the person themselves? Before we dive into these questions, let's first consider another. What was Osvaldo paid to do?


Before he became a mountain guide, Osvaldo was a talented climber in his own right. Who would entrust their life on a mountain at high altitude to someone who was not competent to lead them? Certainly not I. When Osvaldo was merely a climber, things were much simpler. As a mountaineer, he simply climbed mountains. Getting to the top was the only goal, and, as his skills improved, so too did the number of summits he reached. Success was easily defined—getting to the top and returning home safely to tell about it, while having some fun along the way. For Osvaldo, the mountain itself was the challenge to overcome and the focal point of his energy and attention. Over time, his climbing skills impressed someone enough that this person suggested he consider becoming a mountain guide. Instead of simply climbing mountains, why not get paid to help other people climb mountains? This is the mountaineering world's equivalent of frontline management.

While this is a natural evolution for a good climber like Osvaldo, it requires a monumental shift in his thinking. For Osvaldo, becoming a guide meant that the mountain was no longer the focal point of his energy and attention. Reaching the summit was now a by-product of how well he managed his new job—moving people. Osvaldo's experience as a mountain climber would serve him well in his new role

Excerpted from Nine Minutes on Monday by JAMES ROBBINS. Copyright © 2013 by James Robbins. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Nine Minutes on Monday: The Quick and Easy Way to Go From Manager to Leader 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
David_Marquet-Practicum More than 1 year ago
Can you really be a better leader in just 9 minutes? That’s the premise of James Robbins’ new book, 9 Minutes on Monday. Currently on Amazon there are 365,000 books in the leadership and management category. That’s 1000 for every day of the year. Why should you care about another one? James Robbins grew up at the base of the Canadian Rockies. Inspired by the mountains, he combined his love of climbing with his passion for people. Initially propelled to be a preacher, corporations became interested in his secular leadership seminars where he combined his honest, observation of the human condition with his experiences climbing mountains (both as mountaineer and guide). He has a program and now a book. The title refers to a reflective and structured 9 minutes at the start of every week where leaders actively decide what actions they will take during the week when interacting with their subordinates. I like this approach, as it is habit-centric in that the focus is on the behavior. Secondly, the content is good. Rife with mountain climbing stories, James deconstructs the elements of good leadership in today’s world where thinking is the most important activity your people do. James makes the case that humans, including you and your subordinates, are motivated by 4 primary and 5 secondary needs. The 4 primary needs are: • Care • Mastery • Recognition • Purpose The 5 secondary needs are: • Freedom • Connect • Play • Model • Grow He has chapters for each of these needs and provides concrete behaviors for how to meet the need for yourself and your employees. Throughout the book are woven some more enduring themes such as trust. I found the book helpful, practical, and coaching without pontificating. It’s a welcome addition to any leadership library and would also serve as a supplemental text or workbook for organizations wanting to improve the leadership skills of their people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago