Leadership Notes #61 – The Secret & More

(This series of “notes” first appeared in the YahooGroup “VenturingList” and are written by Michael Brown. I thought that they were worth sharing with the Commissioner Corps.)

This Note actually focuses on a trio of books by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller, NOT the self-help book focusing on the “law of attraction”. Blanchard and Miller’s works are actually a different approach to servant leadership. Blanchard is a well known writer on leadership topics. Several of his works have been covered in past Notes. Mark Miller is VP of training and development for Chick-fil-A. (and yes, the concepts covered in these works are used by Chick-fil-A).

Their first work together is “The Secret: What Great Leaders Know — And Do” (2004, 2009). As noted, it’s a different approach to servant leadership. Told in the form of a `business parable’ (as the rest are and as many other books by Blanchard et al are), it introduces the concept of SERVE.

SERVE stands for:
• See the future
• Engage and develop others
• Reinvent continuously
• Value results and relationships
• Embody the values

“See the future” touches on concepts that have come up in the past in this series: having a vision and selling that vision to others, but also have goals to achieve that vision. “Engage and develop others” is an important aspect of servant leadership. The servant leader develops those they lead. This is also expanded with “value results and relationships”. “Reinvent continuously” is about working to improve things, to bring about needed change. And “embody the values” is about being consistent. Do what you say you will do.

“The Secret of Teams” (2011) is a more recent work written only by Mark Miller. The aim is to create `high performing teams’, those teams that really excel.

In this work, Miller puts forth was he sees as the qualities of these high performing teams. These teams have:

• Results: focus on results
• Talent: focus on who should be on team
• Skills: cultivate skills of members
• Community: create a community

“Focus on results” is clear. Such teams have a clearly defined goal (and probably also a vision), which all are on-board with. It’s the reason the team exists.

With “talent”, the leader should be on the lookout for the right people for the team. Always be recruiting. Yes, this is a concept that can be misused, if the leader is using this as an excuse to create an exclusive group that overlooks good people.

“Skills” goes in hand with that. Identify the skills needed, look for talent to fill those skills. Also teach (or ensure those skills are taught), making sure the resources are there. (going back to servant leadership, this is the idea of valuing and developing your followers).

And with “community” is that there needs to be a “true team”. The group needs to come together as a real team and the leader needs to encourage that.

Another important aspect of such teams is that the relationship between the leader and the team is different (as it should be with servant leadership). How they interact with the team is important. Most people think the leader’s relationship is a sort of `command and control’, with the leader above the members of the team, overseeing everything (traditional, non-servant leadership). In a high performing team, the team is linked together and the leader is more of a mentor/servant leader to the team.

Here is a video on the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQd2ha0_Tik

The more recent “Great Leaders Grow” (2012), again by Blanchard & Miller, covers an important aspect of leadership. Here the work is about what is the secret of staying a leader. The answer is that leaders GROW. They must be developing themselves as leaders and individuals.

GROW stands for:
• Gain knowledge
• Reach out to others
• Open your world
• Walk toward wisdom

Or more detailed, adding the elements that make up each concept:

• Gain knowledge
o Yourself
o Others
o Industry
o Leadership
• Reach out to others
o Formally
o Informally
• Open your world
o At work (or organization)
o Outside work (or organization)
• Walk toward wisdom
o Self-evaluation
o Feedback
o Counsel
o Time

With “gain knowledge”, as a leader you need to learn more. First off, there is self-knowledge. Learn more about yourself. I devoted a whole Notes on this topic, with stuff like DiSC, Myers-Briggs, Social Styles, and Strengths. Using any of these, and similar assessments will help learn about yourself. Next, you need to learn more about others. What are their skills, personalities, goals, desires? Then, learn more about the field you are working in (this sounds too business like. For Venturers, I’d say you need to gain knowledge in your crew’s specialty, whatever that may be). And finally, learn more about leadership itself. Which the focus of this series.

“Reach out to others” is about how as leaders we have a responsibility to teach others. (again the servant leader idea of developing our follows). This can be done formally (thru formal training sessions) or informally (as needed). The thing is, by teaching others we actually get better at what we teach.

“Open your world” is another aspect of self-development. You need to add to your experiences. This can be done within your organization and outside it. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Seek them out. For instance, within your organization, you may have opportunities to help run and organize an event. This would add to your experiences within your group. For Venturers this may be stepping up to run their crew’s superactivity. Or better yet, stepping up to staff ILSC or NYLT within their council, or helping run a council venturing event. Outside your organization can be many things. It can be as easy as doing stuff with other organizations (you can both bring your experiences in Venturing to play, as well as gain experiences that can be of value to you in Venturing) or in school or even your hobbies and other aspects of your personal life.

Finally, wisdom comes when you take what you learned (your knowledge, skills, experience) from the previous 3 steps and know when to apply it at the appropriate time. This can be done using one of four elements. First can be self-evaluation. This means taking a good, honest look at yourself. What are your real strengths? What are your real weaknesses? And what are you doing to address those? Next is feedback, which you get from others. Next is counsel, which I would also call mentoring. This is where you seek out the experience of others. And the final element is time. Which is that self-development is on-going. It never stops.

Self-development is an important topic. As noted in the characteristics of servant leadership, this is about awareness of who we are as an individual and as a leader. Which means to be a better leader we must work to develop ourselves as well as our followers. We will revisit this concept in the future.

Here is a video on the book.