Ken Blanchard, the best selling leadership author and trainer, has emerged with a new book. Released in January, Lead with LUV looks at the concept of “love leadership” and reminds everyone that it has nothing to do with being soft. Catch Driver Marketing interviewed Dr. Blanchard to discuss where leadership has been and where it’s headed.
This book is an interview-style chat with Colleen Barrett. She rose from Executive Secretary to the position of President, succeeding founder Herb Kelleher, at Southwest Airlines. The LUV comes from Southwest’s long time stock symbol on the New York Stock Exchange. However, Kelleher himself said he chose Barrett to succeed him “because she knows how to love people to success.”
About 12 years ago, I had the opportunity to coordinate a live event series with Dr. Blanchard leading a trio of gatherings for the organization I worked with. My impressions from that personal experience still resonate for me.
I have touched on other core concepts of planning, marketing, communications, branding, and customer service within this blog. But in the area of leadership, I was interested in Dr. Blanchard’s current view from Lead with LUV and how it relates to his seminal work, The One Minute Manager, an almost 30-year old book that still connects with readers.
(NOTE: In keeping with Dr. Blanchard’s belief of catching people doing things right, I want to thank Wendy, Nick and Martha with The Ken Blanchard Companies for their help coordinating this interview.)
CDM: With a few exceptions, your books have used allegories to impart your lessons. Why the choice to use a well-documented subject in Southwest Airlines this time?
KB: I’ve been searching the last few years for real stories. I had mentioned Southwest in an excerpt for another book. The word is out there that businesses are only run by self-serving people. I felt that when you have a great story of 35,000 employees that are treated like family and partners in Southwest, why write an allegory? Plus, it was a chance to highlight Colleen Barrett who wasn’t your typical company president.
CDM: The primary concepts in this book center on servant leadership and planning. Why do so many organizations today appear to fail at planning to lead?
KB: So many people today feel the pressure of getting their numbers that they don’t understand great leadership. If leaders would look at a way for employees to help, perhaps they would. Southwest treats their employees like partners. Pretty soon, the employees feel like part of the success and begin to think like owners. Great performance is not an accident; it’s the culture of a company that keeps it going. The Culture Committee is the most important committee at Southwest.
CDM: To that point, and the fact that you had experience with Southwest’s story, was there an “a-ha” moment while interviewing Colleen for this book?
KB: I think the big one was that it’s easier to build a company the way you want than turn one around. When you start the way Herb Kelleher did with Southwest, then continue to have leaders to cheer everyone along, that’s how you keep it up. Max DePree wrote the book Leadership Is An Art. He was CEO of Herman Miller, which was started by his father. I asked him what his primary role was as the leader and he said that he saw himself as a third grade teacher that praises every day to achieve great results.
That’s why the title I have at our company is Chief Spiritual Officer. I leave a message every day for every employee to discuss the things we did right, the people we should remember that day, and to remind us of our mission and our values. I joke that my employees probably think it’s water torture each day, but I want everyone in our company to know I care about them. Norman Vincent Peale told me the evil one is always out there trying to hook your ego. Servant leadership starts in your heart. It’s not about you; it’s about igniting the leader in everyone.
CDM: Along those lines, faith is a common theme in your work. What does faith mean in today’s business world?
KB: I think faith really means that there is something in your life that is more important than you which is how you bring about servant leadership. Self worth is usually viewed in business as a function of performance plus the opinion others have of you; so money, power, etc. are the goals. The goal should be significance. If you have faith in something, you achieve significance rather than success in the traditional definition.
CDM: I re-read One Minute Manager after Lead with LUV. There are a lot of parallels. Did this book feel like you were putting a period on an almost 30-year old sentence?
KB: You know, my personal mission statement is to be a loving teacher of simple truths. I started in 1969 writing about Situational Leadership ® and One Minute Manager (1982) is still on best seller lists because it’s about simple truths. Colleen was famous for catching people doing things right. As Herb discusses in the foreword for Lead with LUV, when you treat people like family, praise them, correct the things you should and love the people that are your partners like close family, you can keep success going.
CDM: Are there any things you would adjust from One Minute Manager to now?
KB: The one thing I would do differently would be to change the “One Minute Reprimand” into the “One Minute Redirection.” So many people are learners today and reprimands are for someone that knows their job well and should know from experience that they have done something wrong. The speed of life today and how people change jobs, there isn’t the depth of leadership there once was.
But, all good performance starts with clear goals and a clear vision. With that, then you know how to get people on your team and cheer them to success. I have seen studies now that people may experience six to seven different careers in their professional life. So, let people learn, which people want to do, catch them doing it right, redirect when they have missed something and treat them like family. That would be the change I would make.
CDM: I see so many organizations that are looking for an edge in business. As you have discussed, why don’t more realize the edge that exists within?
KB: Leaders need to see that the lessons from our stories are true no matter where they work – big companies, small companies, etc. However, when I present, people always comment that some people who should be there aren’t in attendance. So I ask who should be here and everyone looks up – to indicate the leaders above them. I turn that around a little bit. I tell people to stop worrying about what other people know. I want to know what their knowledge is and what solutions they will bring. Leadership can come from anywhere and the fact that they are in the audience shows that they can be lifelong learners and leaders.
Catch Driver Marketing appreciates the “simple truths” of Ken Blanchard. To learn more about Dr. Blanchard, visit www.kenblanchard.com or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kenblanchard. For more about Lead with LUV, check www.kenblanchard.com/leadwithluv/. Thanks to Ken for sharing his leadership insights with Catch Driver Marketing (www.catchdriver.com).