Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller
Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller’s “The Secret – What Great Leaders know and do” (not to be confused with culty self-help book The Secret) is a great little read for aspiring leaders.
The book focuses on developing human leadership, and takes the thesis that leaders need to first assume a mindset of service in order to lead their teams. The book delves into all aspects of servant leadership, and provides a handy framework for leaders trying to establish a foothold of credibility.
Written in the business fable style (which will either infuriate or excite you) the book delivers its message through the story of the fictional Debbie. Debbie is a middle manager at a company in the States. A young up and comer, promoted perhaps ahead of time, she finds herself in charge of a team which has now slumped to worst performing according to her company’s organisational metrics.
At this stage Debbie seeks help from an overly enthusiastic/borderline pesky librarian to find answers in books. Despite Debbie’s inability to navigate the Dewey system without a librarian, she’s actually pretty talented and soon realises that she needs a mentor. She signs up to a mentoring program from within her own company, and her mentor conveniently turns out to be the CEO. The mentor/mentee relationship takes off swimmingly, and Debbie learns a range of lessons in human leadership. Her mentor also provides her with a handy little acronym to build her leadership around. By the end Debbie has built her leadership skills, developed her team and (spoiler alert) they become the best performing group within the company.
The fable style business book has its detractors who say that they oversimplify things and everything falls into place in far too easy a manner. While this may be true, it also makes them highly readable, easy to understand and quick to read. This book is really a 45 minute to an hour read, max.
The key messages here really are powerful and provide a great basis for new and aspiring leaders to build their skills around. There is also an index at the back, which gives the reader some more resources and reflection questions based around the key ideas.