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The Champion Forum Podcast

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Leadership Strategies that Work and Advice For Leaders in 2024 with Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Have you ever read a book that changed your life? In 2004, I read Ken Blanchard's book, The One Minute Manager, which saved my leadership legacy. In today's podcast, Ken Blanchard and his Vice President Randy Conley join me to discuss their leadership journeys, strategies for leadership success, and what leaders today need to know.


About Ken Blanchard

Ken Blanchard is the co-founder and Chief Spiritual Officer of Blanchard®, an international management training and consulting firm he and his wife, Margie Blanchard, founded in 1979. In the past three decades, he has authored or coauthored 60 books whose combined sales total more than 21 million copies. In 2005, Ken was inducted into Amazon's Hall of Fame as one of the top 25 best-selling authors of all time. His iconic 1982 classic, The One Minute Manager®, coauthored with Spencer Johnson, has sold over 13 million copies and remains on bestseller lists today. 


About Randy Conley

Randy Conley is Vice President and Trust Practice Lead for Blanchard®. He is a coauthor of Blanchard's Building Trust training program and works with leaders and organizations around the globe, helping them build and restore trust in the workplace. His award-winning Leading with Trust blog has influenced 4 million viewers and counting.


How did you get the idea for the book The One Minute Manager?

Ken: My father started training me in leadership when I won class president in 7th grade. He taught me that leadership is all about serving others. His training sparked my interest in leadership and led me to earn a leadership doctorate. When I entered academia, I was not a writer. But when I decided to take one of my colleagues' classes because I heard he was an excellent teacher, he liked my writing and asked me to coauthor a textbook with him. That book led to the opportunity to create a leadership company and then the opportunity to coauthor the one-minute manager. 


When Paul Hersey and I started to get together, the big leadership concept was the managerial grid. They were controlling styles. When Paul and I looked at that, we said well, this has to be different than that. We started to look at how you could go from telling people what to do to delegating. You must take a situational approach because people are not universally strong or weak. They need different leadership styles to help them in different areas of their job.


Q: What was your first opportunity to lead? Who gave you direction? What style of leadership did you adopt? How has your leadership changed since then?


How do you develop your leadership style?

Randy: Too many leaders are one-trick ponies. They learn from the person before them and imitate what they did. We think that our employees have to get on board with the way we lead. In reality, leaders must adapt to how much direction or support their employees need on a given task.


Ken: No one leadership style is the best. You have to vary your style based on the person and the task. This is what makes leadership exciting!


Q: What leadership style does your boss have? How does that style compare to your leadership style? Do you see any areas where you are using a strategy because you have seen it used rather than because it is effective?


How can leaders adapt some of these strategies in 2024?

Randy: When you get down to brass tacks, a leader has three choices. They can over-supervise the person they are working with. Or they can under-supervise and not give enough direction. Or you can give just the right amount of support. In hybrid models of business, leaders have to have one-on-one meetings and be explicit. Get rid of the unspoken assumptions and be clear about what you see and what you need. Ask your team if the approach you are considering would be helpful for them. 


Ken: We turned this whole thing into servant leadership. Some people think this approach is letting the inmates run the prison or people pleasing. There's vision, direction, values, and goals. Those four things have to come from the hierarchy. Employees need to know this is where we are headed. Once that's established, you turn that pyramid upside down and serve your people as they aim to accomplish those goals.


What is a best practice for creating healthy accountability?

Ken: Cast vision. Explain to your team that you are together for a reason, and these are the goals you need to achieve. Get buy-in on the exact goals and input, then create accountability together. How do we help each other achieve our goals?


How do we balance getting great results and nurturing people?

Randy: You have to lead with both. They're not opposites, and you can't ignore one for the sake of the other. In the 50s and 60s, there was little focus on player wellbeing and health. Players would pitch over 300 innings and work other jobs in the offseason. There's much more of a focus on player health and wellness. The best ability is availability. You need your team members out on the field. As leaders, if we disregard that and have people out on health and wellness issues, we're not getting our best players out on the field. We must take care of our people because we want them on the field. 


What do leaders today need to know?

Ken: Leadership is all about love. It's about feeling good about yourself to help others feel good. You need to reach out to people and help them succeed. The best leaders are the ones who have love and compassion in their hearts and share that love with their employees and customers. 


Application Activities:

  1. Does your team know the goals for your organization? During your next meeting, check-in to ensure that everyone can define the goals. If they cannot, think about how you communicate the information you receive. Reset expectations and re-define the goals. Then, ensure that you review each goal frequently. I recommend reviewing 1-2 goals per week during your team meeting. Take some time to celebrate team members who are helping the company move toward those goals!

  2. Do your individual team members know your goals and expectations for them? During your weekly one-on-one meetings, take time to have your employees tell you their goals. If they align with your goals for them, great! If not, take some time to cast vision for their role and explain the role they play in the goals of the company. Ensure that you revisit at least one of their goals during your weekly one-on-ones to ensure they stay at the forefront of their mind.


Resources referenced:

The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

Leading at a Higher Level by Ken Blanchard.   

Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon BowlesThe Secret


Connect with Ken Blanchard


Connect with Randy Conley

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