Simple Truths for a New World of Work

February 22, 2022 Ken Blanchard

 

In my new book Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trustcowritten with my colleague, trust expert Randy Conley—we take a look at some practical, day-to-day leadership principles leaders can apply in their organizations.

Simple Truths of Leadership is broken down into 52 concepts/quotes, half on the topic of servant leadership and half on trust. Each concept has descriptions and activities that will result in increased trust, collaboration, innovation, and engagement in relationships involving leaders and their team members.

A focus on both servant leadership and trust is an important consideration in today’s work environment. It’s a one-two combination that Randy and I believe will bring renewed focus to the importance of empathy and the human touch in workplace relationships.

Here’s a sample of the first three Simple Truths we cover in the first half of the book.

SIMPLE TRUTH #1: Servant leadership is the best way to achieve both great results and great relationships.

Organizational leaders often have an either/or attitude toward results and people. For example, leaders who focus only on results may have trouble creating great relationships with their people and leaders who focus mainly on relationships may have trouble getting desired results.

Yet you can get both great results and great relationships if you understand the two parts of servant leadership:

  • The leadership aspect focuses on vision, direction, and results—where you as a leader hope to take your people. Leaders should involve others in setting direction and determining desired results, but if people don’t know where they’re headed or what they’re meant to accomplish, the fault lies with the leader.
  • The servant aspect focuses on working side by side in relationship with your people. Once the vision and direction are clear, the leader’s role shifts to service— helping people accomplish the agreed-upon goals.

MAKING COMMON SENSE COMMON PRACTICE

This one-two punch of the aspects of servant leadership enables you to create both great results and great relationships:

  1. Let your people know what they’re being asked to do by setting the vision and direction with their help. In other words, vision and direction, while the responsibility of the leader, is not a top-down process.
  2. During implementation, assure your people you are there to serve, not to be served. Your responsibility is to help them accomplish their goals through training, feedback, listening, and communication.

It’s important for servant leaders to establish this both/and mindset toward results and relationships.

SIMPLE TRUTH #2: Every great organization has a compelling vision.

When I explain what a compelling vision is to some leaders in organizations, they either give me a blank look or say something like “I’m sure we have one on the wall somewhere.” So what is a compelling vision?

According to my book with Jesse Stoner, Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision in Your Work and Your Life, a compelling vision includes three elements: your purpose (what business you are in), your picture of the future (where you are going) and your values (what will guide your journey).

A compelling vision is alive and well in companies that are leaders in their field, such as Disney, Southwest Airlines, Nordstrom, Wegmans, and Starbucks.

MAKING COMMON SENSE COMMON PRACTICE

Here’s how you can incorporate the three elements of a compelling vision in your organization:

  • Make sure the people in your organization know what business they are in. For example, when Walt Disney started his theme parks, he said, “We are in the happiness business.”
  • Confirm that your people know where they are going—what good results would look like. At Disney, the picture of the future is that all guests of the parks would have the same smile on their faces when leaving as when they entered.
  • Find out if the people in your organization are clear on what values will guide their journey. Disney’s first value is safety. Its next values are courtesy and “the show,” which is about everyone playing their parts perfectly, whether they are a ticket taker or Mickey Mouse. Disney’s final value is efficiency—having a well-run, profitable organization.

If you can share your compelling vision as clearly as Disney does, congratulations! You have just made common sense common practice.

SIMPLE TRUTH #3: Servant leaders turn the traditional pyramid upside down.

Most organizations and leaders get into trouble during the implementation phase of servant leadership if the traditional hierarchical pyramid is used. When that happens, whom do people think they work for? The people above them.

The minute you think you work for the person above you, you assume that person—your boss—is responsible and your job is to be responsive to your boss’s whims or wishes. “Boss watching” can become a popular sport where people get promoted based on their upward-influencing skills. As a result, all the energy of the organization moves up the hierarchy, away from customers and the frontline folks who are closest to the action.

Servant leaders know how to correct this situation by philosophically turning the pyramid upside down when it comes to implementation. Now the customer contact people and the customers are at the top of the organization, and everyone in the leadership hierarchy works for them. This one change makes a major difference in who is responsible and who is responsive.

MAKING COMMON SENSE COMMON PRACTICE

To make servant leadership come alive, implementation is key:

  • Communicate to your people that you work for them, not the other way around. Your job is to serve, not to evaluate.
  • Empower your people by letting them bring their brains to work. In this way, they become responsible— able to respond—to their internal and external customers. Your job is to be responsive to them, helping them accomplish their goals.

This creates a very different environment for implementation and makes it clear to everyone who is responsible, and to whom.

I hope I’ve piqued your interest in learning about how you can introduce our commonsense leadership practices into your organization. If I have, check out the free eBook we’ve put together that shares a little more information about Simple Truths of Leadership—and check out what others are saying about the book through retail booksellers such as Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com.

The world is in desperate need of a new leadership model—one that focuses on results and people. Trusted servant leadership is the approach Randy and I believe in. Let us know what you think!

 

About the Author

Ken Blanchard

Ken Blanchard is cofounder and Chief Spiritual Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies®. Best known as the coauthor of The One Minute Manager, as well as 65 other books with combined sales totaling more than 21 million copies.

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