The Powerful Practice of Applying Simple Truths

Last week I announced the February 1 publication of my new book with longtime colleague and trust expert Randy Conley, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust. This week I’d like to talk about the inspiration behind the book and why I’m so excited about it.

The beginning of my mission statement is “I am a loving teacher and an example of simple truths.” From the time I was a young college professor, I have always looked for simple truths that reflect commonsense practices people can use to make their work and life—as well as the lives of the people they care about—happier and more satisfying.

Simple truths are not complicated but they are powerful. An example would be “All good performance starts with clear goals” or “Praise progress!” When I talk to audiences about these simple truths, I often add, “Duh!” because what I’m saying is so obvious. The audience always laughs because it’s common sense. The trouble is, too many people aren’t applying commonsense leadership principles in the workplace. When was the last time your leader took the time to review your goals with you? When was the last time your leader praised you, in specific detail, for a job well done? If it was recently, you’re one of the lucky ones.

Effective leadership is about implementing everyday, commonsense practices that will help your organization thrive. Yet so many leaders get caught up in the next urgent task that they forget to “walk the talk” and apply these basic good principles. That’s why we organized our book into 52 simple truths—one for each week of the year—which leaders can implement on the job. Each simple truth is described on a single page and can be read in about a minute. That’s brief enough for even the busiest leader!

When commonsense leadership is put into practice, everybody wins—leaders, their people, their organizations, and their stakeholders. If you’d like to know more, my coauthor Randy Conley and I will be talking about these common-sense practices in a webinar on Wednesday, January 26 at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time. To sign up, click here: Simple Truths of Leadership: Becoming a Trusted Servant Leader. You won’t want to miss it!

Simple Truths of Leadership Book Coming February 1!

Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley

I’m thrilled to announce that my new book, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, will be available on February 1. My longtime colleague and expert on trust, Randy Conley, is my coauthor. I’m especially excited about this book for several reasons:

  • Randy Conley. Randy has been writing and speaking about the importance of trust in leadership for many years. His expertise and passion around the topic—along with the fact that he is a lot of fun to work with—has made him a dream coauthor. Randy and I firmly believe that servant leadership and trust go hand in hand.
  • The Message. For years, we’ve wondered why commonsense leadership isn’t common practice. We know how much more enjoyable it is for leaders to work side by side with their people—serving them, empowering them, and allowing them to bring their brains to work—than to keep looking over everyone’s shoulders and questioning every decision. To help drive home this point, Randy and I share 52 commonsense philosophies we believe will resonate with leaders and show how each one can be applied in your workplace.
  • The Format. Although Simple Truths of Leadership contains more than 140 pages of time-tested lessons on the best way to lead, it’s not a weighty book you’ll need to read for hours on end to benefit. The book was designed so readers can enjoy learning and then applying what they’ve learned bit by bit. It’s a fun, easy read that features 52 simple leadership truths, defines them, and provides suggestions for how to make common sense common practice.
  • The Discussion Guide. Whether you belong to a business book club at work, enjoy talking with a friend or two about leadership strategies, or prefer independent study at your own pace, you’ll appreciate the discussion guide located at the end of the book. It’s filled with questions that will challenge you to delve into your ideas and beliefs about leadership.

I’ve been saying this for a long time, but it’s truer now than ever before: the world is in desperate need of a different leadership role model. Trusted servant leadership is not quaint, and it’s not nice to have—it’s critically necessary for every industry, organization, and leader working to manage the immense changes still happening in the way business is done.

We hope Simple Truths of Leadership provokes your thinking and brings you closer to the trusted servant leader we know you can be!

Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust is available for preorder at your favorite online book retailer.

Looking Back on 2021 and Forward to 2022

One of the things I like to do when December rolls around is to think back about where we’ve been the past year, where we are now, and where we’re going. I do this because research has shown that reflecting on your past and how you’ve successfully dealt with challenges helps you build resilience. Taking stock of where you are now helps you decrease anxiety and focus on the requirements of the moment. And looking ahead helps you set goals, complete projects, and turn your picture of the future into reality.

Where We’ve Been

In so many ways, 2021 has been a year of healing. We’re closer to being able to do the things we did before the pandemic hit. People began coming back to the office and we started having face-to-face meetings again. Officials in California just announced another indoor mask requirement to combat a 47% increase in COVID-19 case rates across the state since Thanksgiving, so we’re not out of the woods yet. The good news is that we’ve adapted to dealing with this pandemic.

So, how was your 2021? What did you get done this year that you feel good about and can praise yourself for?

Where We Are Now

Like so many organizations, 2020 sent our company into a financial tailspin. This year we’ve had a financial comeback and so have many of our clients. It’s still a tough time for many organizations, though, and the movement to digital work has led to some concerning trends: fatigue, weakened interpersonal connections, and dissatisfaction with virtual offerings.  Our company is working with organizations to help them overcome these issues.

How about you? Where are you as 2021 comes to a close? Take a deep breath and appreciate this moment.

Where We’re Going

Our company has lots planned for 2022, starting with our Blanchard Management Essentials, Self Leadership, and SLII® Experience™ programs in the first quarter.

I’m personally excited about 2022, because I’ll be launching my new book with Randy Conley, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust. The book will be out in February 2022, and you can pre-order your copy now.

I’m also excited about the release of “The Mulligan,” a film based on the book I wrote with PGA touring pro Wally Armstrong. It’s all about second chances in life—and who doesn’t need those?

What are you looking forward to in 2022? Whatever it is, I wish you a rewarding new year!

The 3 Types of Training Leaders Need in 2022

In our recent 2022 survey of learning and development leaders, we asked people to list the training topics they felt were most important in the new year. The top three topics listed were coaching, leading teams, and change management. All three of these topics are near and dear to my heart. Why? Because they are all about leaders working side by side with people to help them achieve their goals.

Coaching

Managers who have been trained in the essentials of coaching are able to offer their people a terrific one-two punch of support. When leaders gain coaching skills such as listening, asking questions, sharing observations, and showing confidence, conversations with direct reports can spark valuable connections that last for years. What’s more, team members who receive coaching from their manager are more likely to become high performers and self reliant problem solvers who not only remain with the company but become leaders themselves. That’s a win-win if I’ve ever heard one!

Leading Teams

High performing teams don’t happen by themselves. Teams need leaders who understand the importance of clear goals, a shared purpose, and mutual accountability in a team setting. Managers who are trained in team leadership know how to diagnose an entire team’s stage of development and apply the right leadership style for each situation.

These days, with many meetings still happening online, it can be tricky for leaders to keep track of team dynamics. Having managers trained in team leadership will give them the skills they need to build effective, collaborative, creative teams that produce the results organizations need today.

Change Management

I don’t need to tell you that change has been part of almost everybody’s day-to-day life for close to two years now, and far longer than that for many. Training leaders in change management shouldn’t be an option these days—it should be a mandate! Why? Because even when it’s done the right way, leading people through change isn’t easy. When it’s done the wrong way, it can be a waste of time and money that causes productivity to crash and employee turnover to shoot up, because people feel ignored and disrespected. And no organization can afford that.

The strongest, most resilient companies stay ahead of their competition by making change a part of their corporate culture. Leaders who know how to uncover and manage team member concerns can head off and reduce people’s natural resistance to change. This leads to increased buy-in and commitment from team members as well as faster results. It’s all about involving your people and making them part of the solution.

So make sure your leaders have the skills they need to help their people achieve their goals in the new year. Managers who are trained in how to effectively coach direct reports, lead teams to high performance, and get everyone working together on positive organizational change are the leaders who will help your company thrive in 2022—and for many years to come.

(Learn more about this year’s survey results by downloading the 2022 HR / L&D Trends eBook!)

The Timeless Custom of Giving Thanks

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. As I was growing up, Thanksgiving was always a big deal in our family. To honor the day, my father loved to read part of a 1936 Thanksgiving Proclamation by Wilbur L. Cross, the Governor of Connecticut. As I got older, I memorized the opening lines:

“Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons, when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year. In observance of this custom, I appoint Thursday, the twenty-sixth of November, as a day of Public Thanksgiving.”

Celebrating the bounty of the autumn harvest was a tradition long before America came into being. Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans gave thanks to the gods at this time of year. Even before those civilizations, the Chinese celebrated the fall harvest during the ancient Shang dynasty. So, this custom of giving thanks for blessings goes way back in time.

I love Thanksgiving because it’s all about gratitude. You don’t have to give gifts – you just give thanks for the people and things that make life worth living.

So, wherever you are, give thanks this week. Tell the people in your life how grateful you are for them. Take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate all that you’ve been given.

Life is an extra special occasion when you are thankful for who you love and those who love you. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!