Ken Blanchard & Randy Conley – Co-Authors of Simple Truths of Leadership

Episode 222

Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley are spreading the message that leadership is about the “we” instead of the “me”. The co-founder and vice president of The Ken Blanchard Companies sit down to talk about their new book The Simple Truths of Leadership, why trust is undervalued by leaders, and the constants and changes of leadership today. Find out more on this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be, I want to just make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show, though, join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I am here with my next pair of gas. Very, very thrilled to have Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley here. So they are the co authors of this amazing book that if you’re watching us on YouTube, I’ll give you a little glimpse of the cover there. It’s called simple truths of leadership and 52 ways to be a servant leader and build trust I received the book and I have to say it was so amazing, so many tips even coming from somebody who reads lots and lots of leadership books. This one was definitely one that you should absolutely pick up. So many of you have heard of Ken Blanchard, he is a big speaker, business consultant and author of dozens of books, but maybe the one that I don’t know where you’ve been, if you haven’t heard of this book, but One Minute Manager was a book that sold over 23 million copies over the years. And I definitely read it many years ago, I in I think in college was the first place that I picked it up. And it definitely got me thinking about being a better leader and what attracts people to leaders and how to continue being a leader because I think, especially as times change and and different things change, it’s important to keep up on those skills. But again, that book was just a one that is it’s iconic. And I’m excited to, for him to put this book together with Randy Connolly. Randy has also had incredible work. They’ve been working together for a while, too, and has done quite a bit of thinking on this simple truth of leadership. So we will definitely hear more from Randy as well. So welcome to the two of you.

Randy Conley 2:46
Thank you, Karen. Good. Yeah, it’s great to be here.

Kara Goldin 2:50
Awesome. So you’re both renowned thought leaders and business experts and you work together. Tell us more about the mission behind the Ken Blanchard companies?

Ken Blanchard 3:01
Well, our mission is really to help people create an organization where everybody loves to be. And as a result, they also love to take care of their customers. A lot of people think that the reason for being a business to make profit, no profit is the applause you get for creating a motivating environment for your people. So they take good care of your customers.

Kara Goldin 3:26
Absolutely. So when did you join? Randy, when did you guys connect together?

Randy Conley 3:31
I started working with Ken over 25 years ago. And I actually as I was going through school, I wanted his textbooks that he wrote many, many years ago called the management of organizational behavior was one of my core textbooks. And I remember really identifying with this Blanchard guy and his teachings on leadership, you know what it means to lead in a situational manner and sort of leading with a focus on others rather than on yourself. And it was sort of a God thing in my life that I was directed towards Ken’s company. And it’s just been a wonderful journey over the last 25 years getting to work with Ken and more importantly, learn under him and, and work alongside him.

Kara Goldin 4:24
That’s amazing. And you are also the the author of the award winning leading with trust blog, which is if you have not signed up for his blog, and definitely you should do that too. And there’s so many leadership tips in there and you get to talk to lots of top experts on on that blog as well. So let’s talk before we dive into the newest books, The One Minute Manager is one of the top business books selling over 23 million copies. It’s a classic. How has that maintained? What is Is it about leadership that never changes?

Ken Blanchard 5:03
Well, I think the big thing care is it. My mission statement begins with I want to be a loving teacher of simple truths. And so I’ve been constantly looking at what are the simple things. And I ran into Spencer Johnson who wrote children’s books, you know. And he was working on a one minute scolding with a psychiatrist tonight, but into session that I was doing. And after he said the bag and laughed, he came running up and said, Let’s forget parenting, let’s do the One Minute Manager. And we just felt that there were three simple things that if people remembered that takes care of, but 80% of what you need to know to be an effective manager, one minute goal setting all good performance starts with clear goals. Once goals are set, you ought to wander around saving, catch people doing things right. And give them a one minute praising if they make a mistake, and is not going the direction and go wander around and, and give them a one minute redirects, you know her redirect their behavior. And it’s just been, and it was a parable. And the only business parable there was ever written at that time. No, because it was parables, Jonathan liberties and seagulls and little sharks, but there was no parables in our field. And so we were the first in the parable, and people love short books that they can read. We said, If you couldn’t read it by in a flight from San Diego to San Francisco, it was too long.

Kara Goldin 6:33
Absolutely. So the simple truths of leadership. So why is today the best time to remind leaders about the simple truths?

Randy Conley 6:45
Well, Kara, one of the things that we think gets in the way of effective leadership is us individuals, our own ego, you know, and we, we tend to make leadership much more complicated than it needs to be. And especially in today’s current environment, with just so much rapid change, you know, technological change is going crazy, societal change, everything that we’ve had to deal with during the pandemic, people can’t handle everything that’s coming at them. And when that’s the case, if you can get back in touch with the simple truths that are proven time and time, again, that lead to leadership success. That’s where we can focus, it gives everybody a way to cut through all the noise that’s going on out there, you know, and get back to the basics, because, like Kim discovered with the One Minute Manager 80% of what’s going to get you there to achieve your goals is those fundamental, simple truths about leadership.

Kara Goldin 7:55
So we have a lot of people who listen to this podcast, who are entrepreneurs, many people who have not led teams had a great idea. What do you think is, is kind of the key thing for new leaders to know. I mean, is this the book for new leaders? Is this the book for existing leaders that need a fresher a refresher course? I mean, how do you think about leadership?

Ken Blanchard 8:23
I think it’s really for all people, including young people, old people, and care, I was into servant leadership for a while. And one of the things I found is that if you are a servant leader, it’s all about we rather than me, and that builds trust. And then Randy, course, that’s been his area of thing. And we said, Okay, how do we get the simple truths out there, and the book is so easy to read, because on one page, there’ll be a simple truth. You know, like, what you need to use is different strokes for different folks. If you want to be an effective leader, then the next page tells why people don’t use it, because people get hung up on one leadership style and all. Then the bottom of that facing page says, How do you turn, you know, common sense into common practice. And there’s 26 of those little things on servant leadership, and there’s 26 on trust. And so people have been reading it said, Wow, this is fabulous. I can share this with my people. We can read one simple truth a week, or we can read a couple in all and boy, I’ve had people say, Boy, I need to give it to my teenage kids, you know, because they want to know about leadership, but they can’t read any complicated book, but they can read something like this with all these little truths face to face with a simple truth and then a discussion about

Randy Conley 9:51
that. Yeah. And as I think of entrepreneurs care, I think of individuals who are bootstrapping you know from the ground up When you’re getting started in your business, you’re the one person band, right? You’re doing it all. You’re the marketer, you’re the salesperson, you’re the accountant, you’re the product developer, you’re the creative genius, you’re everything. And as your business starts to expand in, you’re naturally having to bring on others or collaborate with other folks. Your entrepreneurship quickly evolves into relationship management, right, you have to understand how to get your product or services ideas out to the marketplace. And you do that through others. So you need to know how to influence others in a very effective way. And all of the simple truths that we share in our book will help you do the basics of what it takes to have effective relationships. And we believe Ken and I strongly believe at our very core, that leadership is about service. You lead others by being of service to them, help them win and achieve their goals. And in turn, all those good things come back to you and you end up succeeding as well.

Kara Goldin 11:12
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Randy Conley 14:52
I would say there are few things that an individual can do. That builds more trust than admitting their mistakes. Rather than viewing an admission of a mistake as a weakness, it’s actually an immense strength, because people see you for being an authentic person who’s willing to own up to their actions, and is willing to learn. And Ken, a great colleague of kin, and ours is Gary rich, and WD 40. He’s the CEO of WD 40. He has shifted their culture from one that looks as mistakes as something to be embarrassed about two learning moments. Can you want to talk about Gary’s approach to learning moments?

Ken Blanchard 15:41
Yeah, he says, you know, from now on, there’s no mistakes and WD 40, through any learning opportunities, or learning moments, and it’s really amazing, you know, because people will try to cover up mistakes. But now they’ll come to Gary and St. Boy, do we have a learning moment? On this morning, you know, what it might have been like? And you say, well, good, what are we going to learn from it? What an amazing thing. And it just kind of opens the thing up, I wrote a book with Colleen Barrett, who took over the presidency of southwest after her Keller stepped down. And one of her favorite sayings is that people admire your skills, but they love your vulnerability. And I think the vulnerability is, that is what Randy saying is admitting that something went missing went wrong. And rather than saying it’s a mistake, let’s call it a learning opportunity. Because if we don’t all have learning opportunities, we’re in big trouble.

Kara Goldin 16:33
Yeah, I think that’s absolutely correct. As as we were discussing, right before I launched a book just over a year ago called undaunted. And that is a lot of what the book is about, about, you know, owning your failures, also, pushing forward getting over those walls, being an authentic leader. I think that people respond better when they know that that you’re not perfect, and that you’re willing to jump in and you’re willing to help. I mean, gone are the leaders that can sit in glass offices and never come out. Yeah. So I think that those are the people that people really want to follow. You had mentioned something about the word Trust, and you talk about it in your book, too. So if trust is broken, can it be reworked? Can it come back? I mean, I guess, and frankly, I think it’s both ways. Yeah. Whether the trust is broken as a leader, the trust is broken. You know, with somebody who is an employee and support however you want to view it. What do you think, a partner? Can those things be replaced? Do you just have to x these people out and move them out? Of what how do you? How do you guys think about that?

Randy Conley 17:52
Yeah, I want to say, a resounding yes, trust can be rebuilt. You know, one of the myths about trust, and we’ve all heard it, we’ve probably said it ourselves is trust takes a long time to build in just a moment to break, right. And if that’s the case, and I would argue that the trust was probably not that strong to begin with, right? If if it can break just like that. Now, when we talk about broken trust, it ranges on a continuum from something very minor, right to other end of the spectrum of betrayal, which is much more difficult to recover from, but it can still be done. And an effective way to approach rebuilding trust is to first understand what aspect of trust was violated. And research shows that there are four key elements of trust in a relationship. There is what we like to call your ability. You know, are you competent in what you’re doing? There’s the aspect of believability, Are you a person of integrity? Can you? Are you a believable person? The third element of trust is connected. Do you care about people? And the fourth element is dependable, do you follow through? Do you honor your commitments? So when trust has been eroded, you look at those four elements and you say which element has been broken here. And then to get back on track, you can focus on what are the behaviors that need to be addressed, to repair that element of trust. And so first, you acknowledge number one, that you have a low trust situation. Number two, you apologize for whatever your role was in creating that situation. And then finally, you have to act you have to act differently in a way that rebuilds and restores trust.

Ken Blanchard 19:54
That apology cares really we ended up writing a book called a one minute apology, you know, it made it The fourth secret of the woman a manager, because it is so powerful. We’re both leaders in the people who work with them. When they do something that’s wrong, it’s a willing to admit it, and say I apologize for what I did. And now that apology combined with forgiveness is a one two punch is

Randy Conley 20:21
one of one of my personal favorite truths in our book is the simple truth that forgiveness is letting go of all hopes for a better past. Forgiveness is letting go of all hopes for a better path. We can’t change what has happened, right. And somehow, we believe this myth that withholding forgiveness from others is a way to retain power over them, right somehow that it’s hurting the other person who offended us. It only hurts us, we’re the only ones that were injuring. And so when we can get beyond that, embrace forgiveness, focus on restoring trust in a relationship, it frees us up, we’re able to move forward in a much more healthy and productive way rather than holding on to those past hurts.

Kara Goldin 21:16
Interesting. What do you think is the best leadership style out there? Or what how would you characterize

Ken Blanchard 21:23
now there is no one best leadership style? Basically, style is a flexible style that changes their style, depending on the competence and commitment of the person you’re dealing with, you know, do they have the skills to do this job? Are they motivated on if somebody is an enthusiastic beginner, you know, they, they’re excited, but they don’t know what they’re doing, you better give them direction. And if they’re disillusioned learner, you know, you ought to give them both direction and support, if they’re capable, but a little cautious about doing something completely on their own, without support, give them support. And finally, you get to the person who’s a high achiever, you know, that has both competence and commitment, and you can delegate that to them. So it’s different strokes for different folks. And we talked about that in the book. And it’s also different strokes for the same folks on different parts of their job, because they might have five different responsibilities. And they could be at five different, you know, it could be a different development levels, and each of those, and so you don’t want to give the same style all the time.

Kara Goldin 22:28
Absolutely. So how does gender play into leadership?

Randy Conley 22:33
Great question.

Kara Goldin 22:34
How do you lead women versus men? Is there? Do you see a difference and how people respond?

Randy Conley 22:41
I think that’s one of the beauties of a situational approach to leadership is you focus on the needs of the person, right? What is that person’s needs, rather than, you know, labeling them as Oh, women need this kind of leadership style, or men need this or, you know, whatever categorization you want to put on someone. It’s really, what does that person need based on their competence and commitment towards the work they’re doing? And if you can diagnose that, then you can flex your leadership style, to match what they need. It’s all about matching your style to what a person needs in the moment to help them move along the path to achieving their goals.

Kara Goldin 23:29
I think that’s absolutely right. One of the things that we also talk a lot about is, you know, there’s a lot of millennials in the workforce today, they’re dealing with Gen Xers like me, and now we’ve got I actually have there with you know, Gen X, yeah, and I’ve got four Gen Zers coming in. And I’ve, I could write a book on Gen Z, all different. But I think like, the key thing that I’ve seen with Gen Z really has to do with how they’ve been taught in schools that you can, there’s not a lot of lecture situations that the Gen Z audiences in they, they have to participate, and so and so walking into an environment, a work environment, and being told, go and do this task seems very out of sync for them. They don’t feel like they’re contributing in some way of you.

Ken Blanchard 24:31
We found that very much so and, and in the old days, it was top down leadership, people looked up the hierarchy, because that’s where all the brains were, the young people want side by side leadership. They don’t want your job, but they want to be able to contribute and give suggestions and all and so when you reach out to them in a servant leadership style, which is about winning, not me, they go wow, you know, and you can even say To them, but we got this problem. I wish I knew all the answers, I need your help, rather than them saying wonder why that idiots, the manager, they go, boy, this is gonna be a fun place because they want side by side leadership, not top down.

Kara Goldin 25:14
I think that’s I think that’s so key. So one of the things that I bet either of you could answer is, I always ask our guests tell me a story that maybe you’ve heard from a leader where they faced a big challenge or failure. But they somehow learned a lot of lessons from it. Do you have one in particular that is, comes to mind?

Randy Conley 25:43
Well, you know, that I can share a personal story, you know about the power of trust. And that was early in my career at Blanchard, my leader at the time, her name was Barbara Hart. Barbara came to me and said, Randy, this project with a very well known pharmaceutical company, that was one of our largest clients at the time, she said, Randy, this projects going off the rails, and they’re threatening to pull their business and we’re going to lose the account. I need you to fly to New York. On Monday, this was on a Friday, she came to me, I need you to fly to New York on Monday, meet with the client team and some other Blanchard colleagues and try to get this back on track. And I said to her, I said, Barbara, are you asking me or telling me? And she said, I’m telling you, you need to go. And I’m thinking to myself? Why is she sending this this young green horn, you know, to go and help save one of our top accounts, right. And long story short, I go there, along with a few other teammates, we totally turn things around, the client becomes even more loyal and invested in us. And it’s a great success. And it was that moment of trust that Barbara knew that I had what it took to help this situation. And she took a risk, which is the very definition of trust, you’re taking a risk, you’re extending something that you value to someone else, and hopes that they’re going to treat it with respect, care and follow through and reward your trust. And that really illustrated to me early in my career, the value of trust. And that’s a hard thing for some leaders, especially high achieving hard charging leaders that are you know, sort of the classic type A want to control and micromanage everything, that can be a hard concept that really what’s going to lead to long term success is learning how to let go and trust others because then your leadership becomes a force multiplier, right? You can’t be everywhere, all the time. You’re multiplying your capabilities through all the people you’re leading. And that starts with extending trust to others.

Kara Goldin 28:19
Absolutely absolute. That’s a great example. And I do think that the more that you can enable your leadership to other people, the easier your life will be.

Randy Conley 28:31
Right? I mean, I mean, if we’re being honest, there’s a little selfishness in there, too, right? It’s like 1000, you want to make your job a little bit easier, too. And you can only do that if you trust others. And part of trusting them is not just blindly sending them off, right? It’s developing them, it’s training them, it’s giving them the tools, the resources to be successful, then you send them out. And, you know, that’s where the magic happens.

Ken Blanchard 28:58
I love it. We had a wonderful example of leadership from our son, he took over his presidency of our company, right before COVID. So COVID hits, and suddenly we’re 40% down in sales and all and in 2000, we maybe did, you know, 10 or 15 online programs a month, this last month, we did 900 online programs, and he brought in high tech people to take all of our curriculum and put it online, which was an amazing task. But this last year was our best year in the history of the company. You know, we have total 50 employees and we’re around the around the world and so it was quite a quite a feat to turn that from 40% down to two grape, but it did did just say we got to do something different. If we stay the direction we’re going, we’re in big trouble.

Kara Goldin 30:03
Well, that’s That’s exactly right. And and definitely the new generation of leadership, it’s, it seems so obvious to them to bring in some of those, you know, new ways of doing business, but I think it’s it’s definitely a plus side of COVID. I think for many, many businesses if they if they embrace change. You mentioned flexibility in leadership too, and being able to kind of pass the reins a little bit to do things. Because what’s the worst that can happen? Right, as I always say, I mean, you’ve got to go and try so well, this is an unbelievable interview and book, I feel so fortunate to have you both here. Everybody pick up a couple a copy of symptoms for yourself a couple of copies. Yeah, a couple copies for your team. Simple truce of leadership. And where can people find out more about? Well, obviously, everyone knows the book, bookstores, Amazon. Where can people learn more about the Ken Blanchard companies too?

Randy Conley 31:09
Yeah, a couple of helpful places that people can start for more information about the book, and where they can find out what the book is about simple truths of So title of the That’ll get you there. If you want to learn more about the work that we do is the Ken Blanchard company’s Ken Blanchard comm. Check that out. And you’ll you’ll get the whole scoop on all the ways that we help organizations unleash the potential and power of their people.

Kara Goldin 31:42
I love it. Well, thank you so much, and for both joining us this morning. And thanks, everyone, for listening. We’re here every Monday and Wednesday. Don’t forget to subscribe so you get to see exactly who’s coming on for the week. There’s so many stories and lessons I bring on only the best authors and books that are out there and definitely give this a five star review because we all know that those five stars really changed the algorithm for the podcast we are actually heard worldwide. So if you’re listening and you have have not heard this please this podcast please pass it on to some of your friends as well. We We love hearing from people and a shameless plug I mentioned my book, undaunted, overcoming doubts and doubters. Definitely and operational hands on. Definitely a coming from an entrepreneur, somebody who’s led a company built a company, all of those things, so hopefully you’ll get a chance to pick it up or get it on Audible. And last but not least, I have to tell everybody pick up a case of hint. Can you’ve got to try hint as well and, and add it to your frigerator because it’s a it’s a great drink and we’re really excited to be helping people get healthier. So thanks everyone, have a great week. Take care. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book calm and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you like what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Bolden. Thanks for listening