Read an Excerpt
The Heart of a Leader
Insights on the Art of Influence
By Ken Blanchard
David C. CookCopyright © 2007 BFP, LP
All rights reserved.
The key to developing people is to catch them doing something right.
—Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson The One Minute Manager®
Catching people doing things right is a powerful management concept. Unfortunately, most leaders have a genius for catching people doing things wrong. I always recommend that leaders spend at least an hour a week wandering around their operation catching people doing things right. But I remind them that effective praising must be specific. Just walking around saying, "Thanks for everything," is meaningless. If you say, "Great job!" to a poor performer and, "Great job!" to a good performer, you sound ridiculous to the poor performer and you "demotivate" the good performer.
Catching people doing things right provides satisfaction and motivates good performance. But remember, give praise immediately, make it specific, and finally, encourage people to keep up the good work. This principle can also help you shine at home. It's a marvelous way to interact with and affirm the people in your life.
Don't wait until people do things exactly right before you praise them.
—Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
The One Minute Manager
Many well-intentioned leaders wait to praise their people until they do things exactly right, complete the project, or accomplish the goal. The problem here is that they could wait forever. You see, "exactly right" behavior is made up of a whole series of approximately right behaviors. It makes more sense to praise progress—it's a moving target.
Can you imagine standing a child up and commanding him to walk, and then, when he falls down, yelling, "I told you to walk!" and spanking him? Of course not. You stand the child up, and he wobbles a bit. You shout, "You stood up!" and then shower him with hugs and kisses. The next day, he wobbles a step, and you are all over him with praise. Gradually, the child gains confidence until he finally walks. It's the same with adults. Catch them doing things right—and remember, in the beginning, approximately right is just fine.
What we give our attention to, grows.
—Ken Blanchard, Thad Lacinak, Chuck Tompkins, and Jim Ballard Whale Done!
The more attention you pay to a behavior, the more it will be repeated. Accentuating the positive and redirecting the negative are the best tools for increasing productivity.
Killer-whale trainers know that when you don't pay a lot of attention to what the animals do wrong but instead give a lot of attention to what they do right, they do the right thing more often. When trainers start working with a new whale, the whale knows nothing about jumping over ropes. The trainers begin with the rope underneath the water, high enough from the bottom for the whale to swim under. If the whale swims under the rope, the trainers don't pay attention, but every time he swims over the rope, they feed him.
Focusing on the negative often creates situations that demoralize people. When good performance is followed by a positive response, people naturally want to continue that behavior.
You get from people what you expect.
Whenever I talk about the power of catching people doing things right, I hear, "Yeah right. You don't know Harry!" Do you have a "Harry" in your life? If so, perhaps you should take a look at your expectations for that person and see if he or she isn't currently living down to them. It's all in what you notice. When you judge someone, it impairs your ability to see him or her clearly, as if a filter is screening out everything about that person except what fits your assessment.
Fight through your filter and catch your "Harry" doing something right. It will not be easy, but if you persevere, you will notice that your behavior, even your attitude or degree of acceptance toward "Harry" will change. Try it and see what happens. Then try it again. You might even like it. Guaranteed—"Harry" will.
People who produce good results feel good about themselves.
—Ken Blanchard and Robert Lorber Putting the One Minute Manager to Work
In The One Minute Manager, Spencer Johnson and I wrote, "People who feel good about themselves produce good results." After the book came out, I realized I was emphasizing the "old" human relations game—trying first to make people feel good, hoping they would then produce good results. Hence Robert Lorber and I changed the emphasis when we wrote Putting the One Minute Manager to Work. These days, everything our company does is focused on helping people produce good results.
When people produce good results, they feel good about themselves because they know they have done a good job, and they have something to show for their effort. An effective leader will make it a priority to help his or her people produce good results in two ways: making sure people know what their goals are and doing everything possible to support, encourage, and coach them to accomplish those goals.
Your role as a leader is even more important than you might imagine. You have the power to help people become winners.
Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
—Rick Tate leadership expert and author
In my travels, I've seen a lot of unmotivated people at work, but I've never seen an unmotivated person after work. When five o'clock rolls around, people race from the office to play golf or tennis, coach Little League, and pursue other pastimes. People are motivated to do things that provide them with feedback on results. Feedback is important to people. We all want to know how well we're doing. That's why it is essential for an effective performance review system to provide ongoing feedback.
Too often managers save up negative information and unload it all at once after a minor incident or during the annual performance review session. Others "whitewash" performance reviews and act like everything is OK when it really isn't. When people are attacked or not dealt with truthfully, they lose respect for their organization and pride in their work.
I firmly believe that providing feedback is the most cost-effective strategy for improving performance and instilling satisfaction. It can be done quickly, it costs nothing, and it can turn people around fast.
No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.
I go out into the world every day with the attitude that my "OKness" is not up for grabs. I firmly believe that "God did not make junk." This doesn't mean I don't have areas of my life that need improvement—but at my basic core, I'm OK. I choose to feel good about myself. That way I am more open to learning. If people give me negative feedback or criticize something I do, I don't interpret what they are saying as meaning that I am a "bad" person. The belief that I control my own self-esteem permits me to listen to and hear their feedback in a nondefensive way—looking to see if there is something I can learn.
Norman Vincent Peale, the great minister of positive thinking, taught me that we have two choices every day: We can feel good about ourselves, or we can feel lousy about ourselves. Why would anyone choose the latter?
It never hurts to toot your own horn once in a while.
—Ken Blanchard, Thad Lacinak, Chuck Tompkins, and Jim Ballard Whale Done!
It's been said that if you don't toot your own horn, someone will come along and use it as a spittoon.
As long as you're busy accentuating the positive in others, a little self-praise doesn't hurt. A lot of managers are hard on others because they're so hard on themselves. They're always thinking, "Oh, I should have done that better," or "What a dummy I am, forgetting that detail." Sound like anybody you know?
If you catch yourself doing things right, everything in your life will improve—especially your relationships. That's because it's fun to be around people who like themselves.
No one of us is as smart as all of us.
—Ken Blanchard, Don Carew, and Eunice Parisi-Carew The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams
This quote has become the guiding principle of our team-building work in organizations. When I first caught the truth of this statement, it made me relax tremendously as a leader. I realized that I didn't have to be the only bright person in the group. In fact, admitting my vulnerability allowed me to ask for help. I experienced an example of this while working with a large southern manufacturing plant.
The president was baffled by a 200 percent turnover in one of the plant's major hourly positions. I asked to speak to the workers in the affected area, knowing they would be the key to finding an answer.
They told me, "It's hot as the devil down here. We're so exhausted by the end of the day that we don't have energy to do anything else. So if we can get another job, we do." I reported my findings to the president, they fixed the cooling system, and turnover dropped to around 10 percent. By involving the resources we have gathered around us, any problem can be solved.
Get your ego out of the way and move on.
—Ken Blanchard, Sheldon Bowles, Don Carew, and Eunice Parisi-Carew High Five!
The minute you decide to be part of a team, you're going to lose some things and gain others. What you're going to gain is synergy—one plus one equals more than two. What you're going to lose is having your ideas automatically accepted.
If you're going to be part of a winning team, you have to be willing to accept some losses. Certainly fight for your ideas. Try to convince others. But if they can't or won't buy into your thinking, it's time to take a deep breath and let go.
Learning to let go, to put the team's will first, is an empowering experience that leads to the most wonderful of all experiences: being a member of a high-performing, gungho, high-five team.
Remember, leadership is not all about you.
Things not worth doing are not worth doing well.
—Ken Blanchard, William Oncken, and Hal Burrows The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey
William Oncken Jr., originator of the "monkey-on-the-back" concept, used to say this all the time. For years, time-management experts taught efficiency in all things. Eventually, Oncken and others realized that it didn't make sense for people to be efficient at doing tasks that they shouldn't be doing in the first place.
Today people are often busy doing what seems to be extremely urgent but really isn't. They spend a great deal of time moving paper rather than listening to their people or their customers. An effective leader must step back, look at the big picture, and make sure the important things are not being pushed out of the way by the seemingly urgent needs of the moment.
If your people and customers are important, then you will spend part of every day making them feel that way. Evaluate each day by asking yourself, "Have I done what is really important today?"
Success is not forever and failure isn't fatal.
—Ken Blanchard and Don Shula Everyone's a Coach
This was Don Shula's favorite quote when he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins. It drove a great deal of his behavior during his long and distinguished career as the winningest coach in the history of the NFL.
Don had a twenty-four hour rule. He allowed himself, his coaches, and his players a maximum of twenty-four hours after a football game to celebrate a victory or bemoan a defeat. During that time, they were encouraged to experience the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat as deeply as possible. Once the twenty-four-hour deadline had passed, they put it behind them and focused their energies on preparing for the next opponent. This is a principle well worth noting.
Don't get a big head when you win or get too down in the dumps when you lose. Keep things in perspective. Success is not forever and failure isn't fatal.
Never punish a learner.
—Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson The One Minute Manager
A friend of mine called me about house-training his new dog. "When he has an accident on the rug," he told me, "I plan to shove his nose in it, pound him on the butt with a newspaper, and throw him out the kitchen window into the backyard. How do you think that will work?"
I laughed because I knew exactly what would happen. After three days of this treatment, the dog would poop on the floor and jump out the window! That's the kind of confusion you will get when you use punishment on a learner who lacks confidence or may not fully understand what you expect from him or her. I suggest redirection.
When a learner makes a mistake, be sure he or she knows immediately that the behavior was incorrect. Place the blame on yourself by saying, "Sorry, I didn't make it clear." Then patiently redirect by reviewing the assignment. If possible, demonstrate what a good job looks like. Observe the learner's new behavior in hopes of catching him or her doing something approximately right, and having the opportunity to praise progress.
When you stop learning, you stop growing.
When I first met Norman Vincent Peale, he was eighty-six years old. What most amazed me about him was that he was excited about every single day. Why? He couldn't wait to find out what he might learn. He often said, "When I stop learning, I might as well lie down because I will be dead." He was learning right up until his death a few years ago on Christmas Eve at age ninety-five.
Learning is more important today than ever before. In the past if a person was loyal and worked hard, his or her job was secure. Today, the skills you bring to the party constitute the only available form of job security. People who are continually learning and upgrading their skills increase their value in their specific organizations and the job market in general.
The only three things we can count on are death, taxes, and change. Since organizations are being bombarded with change, you would be wise to make learning a top priority and constantly strive to adapt to new circumstances.
When you stop learning, you stop leading.
—Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller The Secret
The very best leaders are learners—people who are always interested in ways to enhance their own knowledge and skills. Great leaders find their own approach to learning. Some read, some listen to tapes, some spend time with mentors. They do whatever it takes to keep learning.
Some people might think that once you know how to do your job, you can devote your time and attention to more important matters than ongoing learning. But as a leader, you must model the behavior you want others to emulate. If you're not serious about learning, you can bet the majority of those watching you won't be either.
By continuing to learn, you can keep up with the competition, respond to new challenges, and maximize your God-given talents.
Leadership is a high calling.
—Ken Blanchard Leading at a Higher Level
Leadership should not be done purely for personal gain or goal accomplishment; it should fulfill a much higher purpose. Nothing is wrong with accomplishing goals, but when you focus solely on results, you miss the big picture. As a result, things like morale and job satisfaction will tend to fall by the wayside. Leadership becomes about getting as much as you can for as little effort as possible. With that kind of leadership, it's a short leap to thinking that the only reason to be in business is to make money. Leaders are forced to choose between people and results because they falsely believe that they can't focus on both at the same time.
Leading at a higher level is the process of achieving worthwhile results while acting with respect, care, and fairness for the well-being of all involved. It's only when you realize that it's not about you that you begin to lead at a higher level.
In life, what you resist, persists.
—Werner Erhard founder of "est Training"
If something is bothering you and you don't deal with it, you are gunnysacking your feelings—holding them inside. This can backfire later when you find yourself "dumping" in an inappropriate way and at exactly the wrong moment. Most of the time, if you simply deal with what is bothering you, the problem will disappear in the process. Have you ever said, "I'm glad I got that off my mind"?
Years ago, I worked for several divisions of AT&T during the transition to seven sister companies. Though top leadership emphasized the benefits of the change, associates were not being encouraged to deal with their feelings. I set up venting sessions where they could "mourn" their personal losses as companies were restructured. The associates were urged to share their feelings of loss regarding status, lifetime employment, and similar frustrations. Soon, they became much more open to hearing about the benefits of the changes and were able to move forward with their lives and careers.
Excerpted from The Heart of a Leader by Ken Blanchard. Copyright © 2007 BFP, LP. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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