Book review by Stuart Ayling
Title: Leadership and the One-Minute Manager
Author: Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi and Drea Zigarmi
Published: First published 1986, updated edition 2011, 116 pages
What is the book about? What are the key messages?
Author Ken Blanchard is well known worldwide for his original ‘One Minute Manager’ book. It was one of the earliest best sellers to use a parable-style of writing. That is, where we follow the main character as they progress through their ‘learning’ experience.
In Leadership and the One Minute Manager we follow an entrepreneur who bemoans the fact that she lacks devoted hardworking talent in her business. As a result, she complains that she has to do most of the work herself. Looking for solutions, the entrepreneur seeks advice from the ‘One Minute Manager’, who is a successful business person.
This book introduces the ‘Situational Leadership’ model that is based on four different management styles:
- Directing – giving specific direction and close monitoring of results.
- Coaching – gives direction and closely monitors, but also explains decisions, solicits suggestions, and supports progress.
- Supporting – facilitates peoples efforts towards task accomplishment and shares responsibility for decision-making.
- Delegating – turning over the responsibility for decision-making and problem-solving to the people/staff.
These four basic leadership styles are introduced on page 40, with the rest of the book looking at the application of the model and related management activities.
Some of the other ideas proposed in the book are:
- Recognising ‘competence’ and ‘commitment’ as two key components of people management and correcting under-performers.
- Competence is a function of knowledge and skills which can be gained from education, training and/or experience.
- Commitment is a combination of confidence (self-assuredness) and motivation (interest in and enthusiasm for doing a task well).
- Delegating is only appropriate for those who are self-reliant achievers.
- That you should “slow down to go faster”. The idea is to think before you act, especially when managing others.
- Certain leadership styles are more suited for certain development levels. Example for someone with low competence and high commitment a ‘directing’ management style is appropriate. Whereas, for someone with high competence and high commitment a ‘delegating’ style of management is best. In the book, using the various approaches is referred to as “Different strokes for different folks” (Yes, I know it is a bit ‘American’).
- Managing performance requires a ‘Performance Game Plan’ and daily coaching from the manager, using the Situational Leadership model.
What I liked about this book:
- The Situational Leadership model – which is the core concept in the book – is very simple and effective. It gives managers a clear framework for working with team members no matter what the individuals level of experience or commitment.
- The book is easy to read and applies the material in a practical way. It is immediately useful.
What I did not like:
- As with other parable-style business books, the writing can be very simplistic. At times this can become a bit boring (it seems too easy) and may detract from the importance of the message.
- Throughout the early part of this book it sounds very ‘American’. But when you keep reading you come to see the value of the concepts being discussed and the American-ness seems to dissipate.
My Reading Recommendation
(Ratings go from 1 to 5, with 1 being ‘leave it alone’ and 5 being ‘must read’)
I rate it 4 for anyone as it explains some important concepts around recognising the strengths of others. But if you manage staff I’d give it a rating of 5. Definitely worth reading.