One of the classic questions we ask business people is something about the books they read. It might be “Tell me the one book every manager needs to have on their bookshelf.” Or “What’s the business book you’d take with you to a secluded island?” You get the point. Well, The One Minute Manager is definitely one of those books.
Authored by Dr. Ken Blanchard, The One Minute Manager has sold over 15 million copies and been translated into 42 languages. So when I heard that Dr. Blanchard was releasing a new version of The One Minute Manager, I wanted to get the scoop. And fortunately, Dr. Blanchard was happy to oblige.
Dr. Blanchard, I was introduced to your work through the Situational Leadership® II model. What started your interest in leadership studies?
When I was in junior high I had an opportunity to become a student leader—I was elected president of my seventh grade class. My father was a naval officer and a hero in World War II. I came home all proud of winning the election and my dad said to me, ‘Congratulations, Ken. But now that you’re president, don’t ever use your position. Great leaders are great because people respect and trust them, not because they have power.’ My dad taught me my first lessons about leadership.
He said it was a real myth that the military was a ‘my way or the highway’ kind of place. He said if you really led that way, you’d never survive in battle, because your men would shoot you before the enemy could. He told me, ‘You’re only as good as your people.’ That was the beginning of my interest in leadership.
Later I got a chance to be a leader in high school and college, where I began developing my leadership point of view. Then my wife and I started our own company and I’ve learned more and more about leadership every year.
In 1982, you coauthored The One Minute Manager. It’s been wildly successful – selling millions of copies and translated into dozens of languages. Without giving the entire story away, can you share what the book is about?
The New One Minute Manager—and The One Minute Manager before it—is about the 20% that gives you 80% of the results you want. It’s based on three secrets:
- One Minute Goals,
- One Minute Praisings, and
- One Minute Re-Directs.
All good performance starts with clear goals – if people don’t know where they’re going, they’re never going to get there. Once goals are clear, the manager becomes a real-time coach and wanders around catching people doing things right and praising progress toward goal accomplishment. And when people get off track, that’s when you redirect their efforts. As a manager, if you remember and apply just these three secrets, you will be successful.
Given that you’ve been instrumental in both leadership and management studies for decades, how would you compare/contrast leadership and management?
I never like to get in an argument about leadership and management, because whenever they are compared, management takes second fiddle, due to the fact that leadership sounds so much more exciting. Yet there are really two parts of leadership.
The first is strategic leadership—which involves vision and direction—the second is operational leadership, which involves implementing the vision. The part that entails setting the vision and direction is what people usually associate with leadership. The part that entails implementation—how you accomplish the goals and live according to the vision—is thought of as management. But I really think both are aspects of leadership.
In fact, I am a big fan of servant leadership. I think vision and direction is the leadership part of servant leadership and operational leadership is the servant part of servant leadership. Vision and direction has to come from the top of the hierarchy. That doesn’t mean you don’t allow people to participate in formulating the vision, but the responsibility for establishing the vision lies with the hierarchy. Once people know where they’re going, then you have to turn the hierarchical pyramid upside down. Now you as the leader serve your people by helping them implement the vision.
Your new version of The One Minute Manager was released this month. What prompted you to update the book? For fans of the original, what should we look for in The New One Minute Manager?
So much has changed since the book’s original publication. Thirty years ago command-and-control leadership was a way of life. In many ways, all the brains were in the manager’s office. The New One Minute Manager realizes that today, the old top-down style doesn’t work, as people want to be able to bring their brains to work.
In the book, he sees leadership as a partnership, rather than a superior-subordinate relationship. When he sees how much the world is changing, he changes. He’s modified the way the three secrets are used. For example, things move so fast these days that people are in constant learning mode. So the New One Minute Manager has adapted the One Minute Reprimand to the One Minute Re-Direct, which is more helpful to people when they’ve made a mistake.
Whether I’m a fan of the original and reading the updated version OR I’m reading The New One Minute Manager for the first time, what’s the best way for me to use the information? How do I turn the “secrets” into success?
The best way to turn the secrets into success is to teach others what you’ve learned from the book. Within a couple of days after reading it, gather the important people in your personal and professional life and tell them about the three secrets and how you intend to use them. I guarantee you’ll start to apply the secrets, because you’ll have committed them to memory and by announcing your intentions to people, you’ll have set up an accountability system. They’ll be expecting you to make sure goals are clear and watching you to see if you wander around catching people doing things right or redirect them when they’re off-base.
So if you want to succeed, teach others about One Minute Management. As the saying goes, ‘We teach what we want to learn.’
As the business world changes, so will the way we manage and lead. Because people change. Granted, some of the things we did 20 or 30 years ago will still be very relevant and have value. Others will need updating to accommodate the changes and innovations that have occurred. The important part is to keep learning.
Image and book cover used with permission3