Thursday, July 2, 2009

Observations on Leadership

For my “Musings-in-a-Minute” version of this blog entry, please click here.

I have been rereading Ken Blanchard’s recent works, including Leading at a Higher Level and The One Minute Entrepreneur and thinking through a number of organizations that I am familiar with for one reason or another.

One of the things that has struck me between the eyes yet again as I read Ken’s incredible work are the alarm bells that should be going off in many of our leader’s minds as we contemplate:

1. Are we empowering or disempowering our teams – have we rallied them around clearly articulated vision, mission and purpose or do we keep things fuzzy and vague because we don’t know what they are either (or we fear that communicating them may allow someone else to vault themselves ahead of us)?

2. Do we report up the chain using information that they want to hear or what they need to hear?

3. Do we want our team members to get an “A” for effort and results (and create an environment that enables this) or do we set them up for failure by judging them on ridiculous, subjective things such as promote-ability and force them to “play the corporate game of survival and promotion”?

4. Are we creating opportunities for our team members to shine or do we limit them with constrained thinking because this is what has always been done or worse, we are constrained and we don’t want anyone who works for us to shine brighter than we do?

5. Can we as leaders shed enough ego so that we serve and empower our teams as Ken Blanchard notes instead of assuming that the teams merely exist to serve our needs as we climb higher in the hierarchy or as we meet some quota or target at any cost?

Of all the leaders I have worked with over the years, only about 20% qualify as true, servant leaders – leaders focused on:

- clearly communicated vision, mission and purpose

- empowering their teams to achieve the vision, mission and purpose in a manner that allows for significant contribution and personal growth of team members based on their strengths and abilities

- recognizing and highlighting the strengths in team members and finding ways to explore and amplify these strengths

- proactive coaching of their team members instead of pointing out much later how the team members have not been meeting expectations for a while

- encouraging team members to grow beyond the capabilities of the leaders themselves

- creating an honest, respectful, trust-filled, transparent environment where communication and collaboration are embraced.

Are we doing these things as a leader?

How do we know?

We need to remember that leaders are not just producing quality corporate results.

We are growing the next generation of leaders.

Whether the world grows or collapses economically, socially, ecologically or any other way depends on whether we empower or cripple the next generation of leaders.

To see a great presentation by Ken Blanchard on this subject, I invite you to click on the link below:

If you are not sure how you feel about the leaders in your organization, feel free to drop me a note. I welcome the opportunity to explore it with you.

After all, our future is tied to our leadership.

How bright a future do we want?

Yours in service and servanthood.


For my “Musings-in-a-Minute” version of this blog entry, please click here.


  1. I love this, good "heady" insight and practical application.

  2. Hey Richard (aka mcProdigal)

    Thank you for this kind comment. As I'm sure you will agree, this is not rocket science and yet we use any number of reasons, excuses and rationalizations to justify why we can't embrace this "just yet".

    Oh, the opportunities lost when we choose to defer our decisions until later.

    I don't know about you, but I have learned the hard way what happens when I don't choose to do the right thing when the opportunity is before me.

    Take care and create a blessed day.