Feb. 17, 2022

Simple Truths of Leadership, How to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust with Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley | Partnering Leadership Global Thought Leader

Simple Truths of Leadership, How to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust with Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley | Partnering Leadership Global Thought Leader

In this episode of Partnering Leadership, Mahan Tavakoli speaks with Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley. Ken is the founder of the Ken Blanchard Companies and has co-authored more than 65 books on leadership, including all-time classics such as The One Minute Manager and Who Moved My Cheese, each with over 20 million copies sold. In this conversation, Ken Blanchard is joined by Randy Conley, Vice President of global professional services for the Ken Blanchard Companies. The discussion focuses on the leadership lessons from Ken Blancard and Randy Conley's latest book:   Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, which he co-wrote with Randy Conley. Ken and Randy share how to apply the leadership principles to build trust and become the kind of leader others would want to follow.  


Some Highlights:

- Ken Blanchard on the impact of his upbringing on his leadership thinking and approach

- Randy Conley on models for servant leadership

- The importance of humility in leadership

- Randy Conley on the complexity of leadership and the need to focus on fundamental principles

- Ken Blanchard on how to build on your team's desire to contribute 

- Randy Conley on authenticity and its importance to servant leadership 

- Ken Blanchard on why "love" powers leadership

- Randy Conley on extending trust 

- How leaders can encourage feedback from their teams

- The ABCD model of trust 

- Ken Blanchard's breakdown of the servant leadership mindset

- Putting situational leadership into practice

- Ken Blanchard on having the reflective self versus the task-oriented self 

- Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley on the future of work 

Also mentioned in this episode:

- Jim Collins, Level 5 Leadership

- Garry O. Ridge, Chairman of the Board and chief executive officer of the WD-40 Company

- Dale Carnegie, author

- Rick Tate, author


Books Mentioned:

- Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust by Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley

- The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

- The Power of Ethical Management by Ken Blanchard & Norman Vincent Peale

- 10 Leadership Virtues for Disruptive Times: Coaching Your Team Through Immense Change and Challenge by Ken Blanchard and Zig Ziglar

- Everyone's a Coach by Ken Blanchard and Don Shula


Connect with Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley:

Ken Blanchard Official Website

Randy Conley’s Blog

The Ken Blanchard Companies on LinkedIn

The Ken Blanchard on Facebook


Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:

MahanTavakoli.com



More information and resources available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website: 

PartneringLeadership.com





Transcript

Mahan Tavakoli:
Welcome to partnering leadership. I'm really excited this week to be welcoming Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley co-authors of the book, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust. Ken who is a co-founder of the Ken Blanchard Companies, a leading international training and consulting firm has been co-author of more than 65 books. Including the iconic one minute manager, which has sold more than 20 million copies in 47 languages. As I mentioned to Ken in the conversation. He has been so influential to the thinking of so many people with respect to leadership, including my own. Now, Randy Conley has been with Ken for more than 25 years. He serves as Vice-president of global professional services for the Ken Blanchard Companies, and he's also coauthor of three books really enjoyed this conversation. I'm sure you will too. In part, because of the consistency with which Ken has communicated the same message over the years, in part because of the frameworks that they set out in this book on how to take these simple sounding principles and make them part of our daily practice. So I know you will enjoy this. Keep your comments and feedback coming. I really appreciate getting those mahan@mahantavakoli.com. There's a microphone icon on partneringleadership.com really enjoyed those voice messages. When you get a chance, don't forget to follow the podcast on your favorite platform that way on Tuesdays, you will hear from magnificent change makers. From the greater Washington DC, DMV region and on Thursdays from brilliant global thought leaders like Randy Conley and Dr. Ken Blanchard. Here's my conversation with Randy and Ken. 

Mahan Tavakoli: 
Ken Blanchard and Randy Conely, welcome to Partnering Leadership. I am thrilled to have you in this conversation with me. 

Randy Conley: 
Thank you Mahan it is great to be here. 

Ken Blanchard: 
It is, and Randy's not all that bad. So we have some fun together.

Mahan Tavakoli: We will have lots of fun Ken, and I can't wait to talk about your book. Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust. Before we get to that, I do have to tell you Randy, that for most of my life I have been studying Ken's work. One Minute Manager will be celebrating 40 years, more than 15 million copies sold. There has been so much significant impact, whether it's on leadership from your perspective Ken servant leadership. And Randy you've really contributed with respect to trust and the role trust plays in that leadership. But before we get to any of that would love to know first Ken, whereabouts did you grow up and how did your upbringing impact the kind of person you've become?

Ken Blanchard: 
I grew up in Nourish Shell New York, right outside of New York city. And my dad then retired as Rear admiral in the Navy but he didn't think, it made sense for my sister and I to be moving around the country. So after the war, he just either got a sign in the New York area for a couple of years or the Washington Norfolk area and he would commute on weekends. And my mom and dad who had quite an impact. I mean, I never forget I'm one of the president of the seventh grade Nourish Shell in the junior high school. And I came home and I was all pumped up and my dad said, Ken your leadership training begins, now that you're president. Don't ever use your position he said, great leaders are great because people trust and respect them, not because they have power. And he said, it's a myth in the military. It's my way or the highway, Sure. your in battle somebody who's going to call shots. But if you acted like you were a big deal, over your men, he said, they'd shoot you before the enemy. Then my mom, she was quite a gal. She said to me. Now Ken don't you ever act like you're better than anybody else, but don't you let anybody else act like they're better than you. God didn't make any junk. There's a Pearl of goodness in every use in human being dig for it. And so those two things really resonated with me, which is power doesn't mean anything, and leadership it's how your people respond to you and to realize that it's goodness in everybody.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
You have been such a great messenger of that over the years Ken. How did your upbringing impact you Randy? Whereabouts did you grow up?

Randy Conley: 
Well I'm originally from Michigan, go blue. Big University of Michigan fan. But I grew up in Southern California in San Diego. I moved out here when I was nine years old. I was a really kind of the poster boy for the seventies latch key kid. My mother was divorced single parent. I had a younger sister, I have three older siblings. But they were sorta out of the house before myself and my younger sister came along and we had sort of a sparse up brain. My mother was a cashier at a grocery store. And we were on and off, welfare, social, you know help for a number of years. And she eventually became a secretary and she was a huge role model for me, because no matter what circumstances came her way, she kept providing for the family. You talked about a model of trust, I never had any doubt that I would be taken care of and her work ethic, I think really inspired me. I remember, when I was a freshman in high school and she was still cashiering at the time, I would take the weekly flyer for her market that had all of the products on sale. And I would quiz her you know, on the prices that this was back in the day when you still have manual cash registers, the cashiers had to memorize the price. There was no scanning the barcodes. And I'd say, what about campbell's tomato soup, she'd say 25 cents sir and she'd rattle off the price. And just her work ethic and persevere, was a big inspiration to me. And then I think as I, became a Christian when I was 15. And pastors in my church, they were really my early role models for leadership, particularly servant leadership. And they afforded me a lot of early opportunities to exercise my gifts and leadership. That was really the big influences on me. And Then of course, this guy here, as I literally as I was finishing up my bachelor's degree, his textbook that he co-wrote with, Paul Hersey Management of Organizational Behavior was one of my primary books that I remember reading about situational, leadership thinking. Wow! I really identify with this who's this Ken Blanchard guy. And I look in the footnotes. It says Escondido, California is where he's based. I'm like really he's here in San Diego and wouldn't you know, it just a couple years later after that. I get a job here at the company. And as they say, the rest is history.

Ken Blanchard: 
And his wife, Kim works with us too.

Randy Conley: 
Yeah. It's a family affair here at Blanchard. 

Mahan Tavakoli: 
That says a lot about the organization and the culture of the organization. This guy has written over 60 books and was told by other faculty, as you were a tenured professor that you couldn't write, Ken.

Randy Conley: 
He still can. He relies on others like us to carry him along. 

Ken Blanchard: 
I think it was too simplistic. They liked it esoteric. I remember they asked for an analogy in a, paper I was writing and I said, it went over like a pregnant high jumper. And the professor said, please, let's not be facetious. I had to look up what facetious.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
That's one of the reasons I love your books. And this book that you have co-written with Randy, because it's not confusing frameworks with 18 different steps of twists and turns of words that you have to look up in a dictionary to understand its common sense principles. However, as you also say in the introduction to the book. There are common sense principles that are seldom used. Why is that? Why is it that for 40 plus years, you've been talking about this approach to leadership. Which truly the leader sees herself or himself as serving their team has become part of the language that leaders use, but has not become part of the behaviors of leaders.

Ken Blanchard: 
I think the big reason that most people in leadership positions don't feel comfortable with who they are. I find that the biggest problem is leaders who act like I'm okay. You're not, you know, and remember that book, with that type and the author said that people act as like that, we're really covering up not okay feelings about themselves. And I think that the reason why a lot of people don't use this is that they're protective of their position of power, because they think that the people might find out that they don't know everything. Where somebody Jim Collins said that, would one of the key to elements of great leadership is humility. And a lot of people thought that was a weakness. And yet I think it was C. S. Lewis or Rick Warren or myself said that people with humility don't think less of themselves. They just think about themselves less. And I think the people who are really good servant leaders are people who are comfortable with who they are and they realized that they're nothing without their people. If they ask them, why are you a servant leader? You say because I got great people. Why would I be anything else?. They make their people feel like they're important and I think that's soul key to effective leadership. We've started though, an egos anonymous program, a 12 step program because the human ego is the biggest problem. We either with false pride where you think we are more of than. But that's when you're covering up, not okay feelings or fear or self doubt when you have negative feelings about yourself. So one of the things, when we do any coaching at all, is to get people to realize God didn't make any junk and you got a lot of special skills, but probably not all of the skills you need to have an effective team. So you need your people.

 Randy Conley:
I think building on that Mahan, you referred to it. Just a moment ago, when you were saying, one of the things you liked about the book is it's not 18 models of this and 47 steps of that and all this. Leadership is a complex topic, but I think we tend to over-complicate it. Just because something is complex doesn't mean it has to be complicated. We overthink it, we try to put all these frameworks and steps and processes in place, and when it comes down to it, the most effective principles are the simple ones. What do sports teams do? They practice the fundamentals every single day, right? They keep going back to the fundamentals. And that was one of our big hopes with this book is let's redirect people back to the simple truth back to the fundamentals. Because yes, there's a place for all those whizzbang complex models and everything. But at the end of the day, it's the simple truth that if we just execute on those day after day, that's what will lead us to success.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
And in every section, you also ask questions and have points for people to ponder and think about their own leadership. And one of the things I appreciate is that, you are saying in essence to leaders that it takes a lot of introspection for us to be able to become more effective leaders. Not just reading the book, it requires a certain level of introspection asking ourselves questions and being willing to go a lot deeper.

Ken Blanchard: 
Yeah. The thing that's really powerful is we think that you don't do leadership to people you're doing with them. And so one of the neat things about this book is it, I've already talked to some people who are taking one truth a week over the next year where their people and say, let's really look at this one, or let's take a section of this over this, first month and all. And so the more you use this with your people and share with them, people really appreciate it so, it's such a misconception that if you act like you don't know everything, people are going to say, why is he or she the leader. No they're going to say, wow, this is going to be fun. Cause we're all going to get to contribute. They don't want your position. They want to be important as part of the game

Randy Conley: 
I think one of the things that I've learned the most over my working career and my career as a leader is, Leadership is much more about who you are than what you do, and I think that's where a lot of leaders get off track as they look at leadership as something you do. And so I've got to memorize all these tools and techniques of how to interact with others, and that comes across people, they see when that's inauthentic they know that you're just sorta doing it to "fulfill your role as a leader". But if you get it right on the inside, in terms of your mindset, your attitudes, your beliefs, it can't help but leak out. You get it right on the inside. It's. Going to leak out and people are going to see you as the authentic, trusted servant leader that you're really desiring to be.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
And that leaking out, as you say, Randy also requires the humility that Ken was also talking about and in much of your work, Ken you underline the importance of that humility and you show it with your own learning and growth mindset. You're constantly learning. You're constantly writing. So you showed with your leadership. One of the challenges I have though, is many of the people that we are celebrating in leadership today, counter that. And I wonder why is that? when you look at the stories of the Elon Musks of the world or the Jeff Bezos of the world, or the Steve Jobs of the world. The ones that get the most traction, in many instances are not the humble leaders. There are the ones that say I'm going to change the world in their view for the better and we celebrate that. Some of the narrative is running counter to what your books and what I tell leaders with respect to humility. They say, wait a minute, these people that are having all this success, they have everything except humility.

Ken Blanchard: 
As a country, we like superstars. We liked the quarterbacks, when we liked the people that score the most points in all. But in the reality, the real winning teams in the long run are made up of a whole group of people. And, Maybe somebody is a superstar, but even Jobs, he would get out of the way, of his people knew what they were doing. And they can let him spout off, in the background they were doing the job. 

Randy Conley: 
Yeah. I think the superstar leaders that we see, in the press and that seem to get all the headlines. I think they tap into that, shadow side of our humanness, which is ego, pride. We want to be the superstar. most of us crave, what others have. We always want more right, life seems to be the constant pursuit of more, the old bumper sticker, right. He who dies with the most toys wins. Well, you're still dead in your toys. Aren't doing you any good when you're dead right?. As I said earlier, Leadership for us from our viewpoint. And I think from yours too Mahan, it's much more about the heart. It's much more about the act of service. 

Ken Blanchard: 
I had a really fun time on, I wrote a book with Don Shula winning is coach and he was really interesting and he was tough and sweet. You know I mean, at the same time. And I remember I spoke at his 80th birthday party with Larry Csonka and Griese and Larry Little and Jim, Tony, the official, and they said that, Shula could change his, attitude in a moment, because Csonka was saying he was going around, a wide round end and said, what's the 240 pound fullback. You're doing an end around, but I swear this guy coming to tackle me and he had done me a dirty deed in college. And so I hit him with a right upper cut that knock any heavyweight out as I went all the field shoeless. Csonka he said that was one of the greatest hits I've ever seen. And one of the coaches is tapping him on the shoulder and he said, coach there's a penalty flag. He said, for what roughing, the defender, you said, how could you be so stupid, you know, different strokes for different folks in situations, but he was allowed.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
Don Shula had some of that attitude. A lot of the people that you have, highlighted over the years have had this attitude of love for their people Ken. So I would love to touch on that. You wrote a book with Colleen Barrett of Southwest, at lead with love Truett Cathy. I just had a conversation with their chief marketing officer had worked with Truett for many years and talked about the love and compassion that Truett had. Garry Ridge, WD40. Love that seems to be a common theme of much of your work, including your touch on it in this book saying love is the answer. How is love the answer in leadership?

Ken Blanchard: 
It's interesting, a lot of people think the reason for being in business is to make profit. And I argue and I've seen it live is the profit is the applause you get for creating a motivating environment for your people. Which is where you show love to them and respect for them and treating them and all that. And if you take care of your people, they go out of the way to take care of the second most important customer, the people that use your products and services, and then they become a raving fan of your company. And part of your sales force, and that takes care of the bottom line. And I think that's what really so important great leaders realized that if they love on and they take care of their people. The people go out of the way to take care of the customers, and that takes care of the organization. 

Randy Conley: 
Yeah. I think for years love has been that four letter word that people have been afraid to say in the workplace. And I think part of it stems from a misconception of about what love is. I think the English language is a little limiting in the word love. If you look at like the Greek language, there's multiple words for love, right? There's Eros, which is the romantic kind of love there's Philia, which is the brotherly kind of love. Agape, which is the benevolent kind of love. and that's really the love that we're talking about. It's like, we love our family members, We don't always like them. There's times they get on our nerves. Right. Sometimes we wish they didn't come over for Thanksgiving dinner or whatever, but we still loved them. Why is it wrong for leaders to love their people? why is that some sort of taboo to say, I care about you. I want what's best for you. Yes, there's times you drive me crazy. Yes, you do things that may be wrong or misguided, but you're part of my team. I love you, I want you here. I'm going to do what's best so that we're all succeeding. 

Mahan Tavakoli: 
That's beautifully said, Randy, one of the leaders I worked for and I would tell people, even when I was working for him. He was the Chief Operating Officer. And also then, the CEO of Dale Carnegie. They were such incredible human beings. And I would tell people that I loved them and I would do anything for them. Back when I worked for Dale Carnegie, people thought, maybe he's saying this because he is working for these two guys. Still feel the same way. And I, that is when you have that love and that passion it's much stronger than the intellectual commitments that we only ask of people. And to your point, Randy, and to Ken's point in part is because they share genuine love with me. Because part of what you say, even with respect to trust, Randy, you touch on the fact that leaders need to go first with trust.

Randy Conley: Yes 

Ken Blanchard: 
Same way with love. 

Randy Conley: 
Yeah. And that's because, trust inherently involves a risk. If there's not a risk involved, then there's really no need for trust. If you're putting your safety on the line, your emotional safety, your physical safety, your money, your time, whatever it may be, and there's a chance that someone may not reciprocate or may do something to harm you, Trust is involved. I've seen too many leaders who think just by virtue of their title or their position in the organization. Hey! My people should trust me. I'm the leader, right? That's why I was put in this role. No, you have to extend trust to your people. You have to first show you trust them. And when they see that through the behaviors that you use, trust behaviorally based. It's all about what you do, what you say, how you communicate. When they see leaders extending trust, then that in turn gives them the freedom and the permission to say yeah, this person is trusting me. I want to reciprocate and trust them back. So it involves risk. If there's no risk involved, there's no need for trust.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
Ken when you look at that, you also mentioned the fact that, servant leaders love feedback. Randy says fear is the enemy of trust. And what I find is that a lot of times, team members fear giving feedback to their leaders. For a whole host of reasons because we have a tough time taking feedback. All of us, it's hard. So what do, the most effective leaders in your view, servant leaders do to be able to get that genuine feedback and have the kind of trusting environment that doesn't nurture fear, nurtures trust in the feedback that they get.

Ken Blanchard: 
First of all, a colleague of mine Rick Tate he said, feedback is the breakfast of champions. The best way to get feedback is to tell your people, I need your help and I need your feedback and if you see that I'm going in a different direction, or we should do it, I need to hear it from you and you never going to get punished for giving me feedback. The fact is that what first thing I'm going to say is thank you. And then I'm going to say, can you tell me more? be out front of that you want feedback and you receive it. And if you think that I get defensive at some point, tell me, Ken you’re getting defensive here, be honest with me and I'll be honest with you. That's that give and take kinda thing. It really builds trust. 

Randy Conley: 
Setting those expectations up front, being clear about your intentions really helps reduce the fear involved. I've always found it valuable in my leadership roles to have truth tellers that I give permission to. And I say explicitly, I want you to give me feedback or call me on the carpet if you see me behaving out of alignment with my values or how you know I typically behave. And if you give that explicit permission upfront, it really reduces the fear because in the person who's giving the feedback, they saying Randy, Ken, He told me he wants the feedback. So I'm going to take him at his word, but then the important thing really happens. How do you respond? If you slapped them down and criticized them for holding you accountable. Well, then you've lost it. You're not going to get any more feedback. But if you do what Ken said, thank you. Tell me more. That fosters, that environment of psychological safety is essentially what we're talking about, Where people feel safe to speak up, take a risk without fear of punishment. 

Ken Blanchard: 
It's interesting Mahan,people asked me, how do you give feedback up the hierarchy and I would never forget I was people in a business school, and the Dean had written a lot about participative management, but he didn't practice it. Faculty would go in to give him feedback and he would throw them out of the office. And I realized that, I agree with what they said, but I didn't have a relationship with him. And you, can't give feedback to somebody, you don't have a relationship to. I stopped him in the hall and I said, George, you've done a lot of writing and I'm just starting my writing career. Would you take a look at a couple of articles I'm working on and give me some feedback Oh, sure. I went to his office and he read the things and he gave me feedback. And after about the third session of him, you can kind of tutoring me writing, you said to me, Ken, what do you think we should do with all the jerks we have in this school? There's a big question though it says, what should we do? Yeah, because now I was on his team and I could give him feedback and not only about what we could do with them, but what he could do differently. Because remember when you give people feedback, it takes from your relationship, but you got to have something in the jar. If you don't have good relationships in the jar, you can't take anything out. You need a gun and a mask. 

Randy Conley: 
What's that trust bank account, right? That's what you're building up through your relationships, through all your interactions. You're building up that trust bank account. Because in inevitably, most of the times unintentionally, we make withdrawals, we goof up, we do something wrong, we don't fulfill a promise. We miss a deadline. We say something, ignorant and we make a withdrawal on that trust account. But if we're very proactive and mindful about building trust and building up that bank account, That's our own overdraft protection. We don't have to worry about tapping out on that account when we have that occasional hiccup.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
That trust is really important. And a lot of times, what I find is that what's most important is believing in your soul, in your core, that other person has your best interest at heart. And that takes that trust bank account and the relationship. When you believe the other person has your best interests at heart, even if you disagree, you don't get offended with the feedback that you've gotten. If you don't know that, then the feedback can be counterproductive. But we have mentioned trust a lot, Randy, and I know you've spent your focus primarily on that trust area and the role trust plays in servant leadership. You also mentioned an ABCD model that can create trust. What is that? And how can it create trust?

Randy Conley: 
Yes. when you look at all the research on trust, there are four primary elements that are involved in trust. When you have that interrelationship and we created a model lovingly called the ABCD trust model to represent those four elements. The A stands for "Able". Do you demonstrate competence? Are you in able leader that builds trust? Are you believable? Do you act with integrity? Do you say, do you act in alignment with your values? Do you make reasonable promises? The C stands for "Connected". Do you care about others? That's all about having their best interest in mind and D "dependable". Do you honor your commitments? Do you follow through, if you can follow the ABCD's of trust, that's the language of trust. Every language has an alphabet, right? I just we're giving folks the alphabet of trust, A B, C, D. If you use behaviors that align with those four elements of trust, you cannot help but build trust because trust is based on behaviors. And if we use the behaviors that others perceive as being trustworthy, we will build trust. The converse is true. We erode trust when we use behaviors that act counter to those four elements. As long as you can focus on the ABCDs, keep that at top of mind, you'll be successful at building trust. 

Ken Blanchard: 
Those elements for were really developed by Cindy Rodeo, who I wrote a book on trust . And she had been studying trust for over 20 years. But that's Randy said they are just the key elements that have been found that are key in building trust.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
It's important to have that servant leadership mindset and trust plays a critical role to it. Now, something you also mentioned in this book and you've done some work on in the past too Ken is situational leadership. How does situational leadership play a role in this servant leadership mindset?

Ken Blanchard: 
Servant Leadership has two parts to it. One is a vision, direction, values, and goals. And that's the responsibility of the hierarchy. And then the second part is this that's the leadership part. The second part is the servant part where you philosophically turn the pyramid upside down, you work for your people. And with situational leadership, the first thing you need to do is agree on goals. What is this person being held responsible for? But then we believe that you need to use different strokes for different folks and also different strokes for the same folks, depending on their development level. And that's a function of their competence and their commitment. And so if somebody is new at an area where they need direction. Where if somebody is a superstar in an area, you can delegate to them and you can move from directing to coaching, to supporting, to delegating, depending on what they do. And you teach your people the concept and you analyze their goals together with them. And then you turn the pyramid upside down. And it's your job to look, to deliver the leadership style that you've agreed upon. And hopefully over time, they're going to get better and better at all of them. So that eventually you can be just the head cheerleader.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
In doing this Ken, both turning the pyramid upside down, applying situational leadership. One of the challenges, I find is the fact that with fewer and fewer layers of management. Each manager has a wider scope of number of people that they deal with. There is an overwhelming sense of not having the ability to even keep up with their emails and all the different meetings they have, let alone do this. How would you recommend in an age of overwhelm for managers to be able to prioritize this and approach their individual team members as the individuals that you talk about?

Ken Blanchard: 
Peter Drucker who was kind of a mentor for me said years ago, nothing good happens by accident, put some structure on it. And so one of the things that we do with our clients is we suggest that they have one-on-one meetings. With each of their direct reports for 15 to 30 minutes, once every two weeks. And the manager schedules a meeting but the direct report, sets the agenda. And if you met with your people, 26 times a year, we say the meeting shouldn't go more than a half hour. You would really know what's going on with them. And yeah you could have meetings in between. But you have some structure on it. And a lot of people say, well, I don't have time for that. I said, we're in too damn many meetings. You need to get out of the meetings more and spend more time with your people. I remember, Seeing some managers who have their meetings with their people standing up. So that they don't last so long, and they can have spend more time one-on-one with their people. But you need to recognize that you just spend time. Garry Ridge president, WD40 implemented this whole concept with them. And you also added another thing where he added a quarterly meeting. Where he meets with each of his direct reports. And the first item of agenda each quarter is, are the goals that we've established at the beginning of the quarterly still relevant going into the next quarter? Because a lot of times people will set goals at the beginning of the year and then, I file them and nobody looks at them until the end of the year. And they say, got performance review coming up and they're running around trying to find the damn goals. And so they can change their goals all the way up to the beginning of the fourth quarter. Then they have a report card that says first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter overall performance. And the direct report comes to that meeting and gives their, boss, their report card. And they give themselves an, A, a B or a C on each of their goals that they've agreed upon. There's no Deezer apps, and it's the job of the manager to agree or disagree. They might say no, I don't think that's quite an answer. A good solid B, but let's talk about how we can make it in a A. You might rate yourself down, that's not a C it's a B how are we going to get that up there? And Garry got really excited cause we have a master's degree program at the university of San Diego, master of science and executive leadership. And he was in our first cohort over 20 years ago. And I told that when I was a college professor for 10 years, I gave the final exam the first day of class and the faculty would say, what are you doing? I'd say I've been fused. They say he acted. That's what I thought we were supposed to teach these kids. You are, but don't give them the questions in the final. And I'd say no, when am I going to give them the questions in the final. What do you think I'm going to do all semester? I'm going to teach them the answers. So when they get to the final exam, they get a life's about getting A's. And so Garry and I wrote a book about his philosophy at WD 40 call Help People Win at Work, and the subtitle is powerful. A business philosophy called don't mark my paper, help me get an A and the last time they took the score. WD40 had a 92% employee engagement score when you don't get, you don't get scores like that but it's providing some structure to make sure your good intentions, as Drucker said, put together to some structure.

Randy Conley: 
I think Mahan, sometimes people think just because something simple means that easy. That's not always the truth. Even the simple truths we talk about in our book, their common sense. One of the reasons why they're not common practice I think is because it takes effort, it takes work. And so using SL 2 with your team members being a situational leader, it does take a little time and effort upfront. To learn the approach, to train your folks in it, to get going in that philosophy and that methodology. But what does it do? It saves time in the long run, It's the age old saying. We don't plan to fail, we just fail to plan. We just need to put in the time and the effort, so much of our society, and we're all dealing with it. I'm not preaching to anyone here. I'm saying I'm a fellow travel around the journey with you. We have so much information coming at us in so many different directions that most days we just wake up and we're in reactive mode. We're just do you learn as much as we can, as fast as we can reacting, and that just leaves us burned out right? After a certain period of time. We have to be much more proactive, intentional about what we're doing, set up those systems those processes. So that it works for us rather than us being a slave to our calendar email, let's make it work for us. And that takes time takes effort, but it's doable.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
There are these habits and practices that are really important as you say, Randy. So a little bit, like I think about it for an individual or for myself, if I prioritize. The exercise in the morning and block the time to do it and prioritize the reading and learning. I will do it otherwise. I can stay busy on emails and calls all day long and not get it done. This is one of those things. When you talk about situational leadership and these meetings. It has to be prioritized. It's part of that effective leadership. So yes, there are aspects with respect to turning the pyramid upside down, being a servant leader. However, you can't do it just conceptually without then those ongoing interactions with your people, coaching them, helping them become better and helping elevate them. That's how you love them.

Randy Conley: 
Loving action is what that is, love and action.

 Ken Blanchard: 
It's important to remember that we have two self. We have a task oriented self, and a thoughtful reflective self. And the problem is wether you say saying is it the alarm goes off and we leap out of bed into our task oriented self. John Ortberg says we got to call the alarm clock the opportunity. 

You start off and your thoughtful, reflective self and sit in the side of the bed and think about the day and think about what's on your schedule and all, and how you want to be in this day before you jump into it. It's really powerful to be into thoughtful reflective self before you move into your task oriented self. And then at the end of the day, I love to sit with it a little journal and do praisings and redirections. What did I do well today? That I feel proud of, what would I do differently that I need to redirect myself? And when you plot that over time, you can see areas where you need to work on.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
These are great practices and thoughts, both with respect to leading others and leading ourselves, which is part of the emphasis that you have, Randy and Ken has had over the years, is that leadership starts with the self before we can lead others. We have to lead ourselves effectively. Over the past couple of years, many of the trends in the workplace have accelerated other aspects have been turned upside down with respect to a certain level of remote work, certain level of hybrid work would love to hear your perspectives on the future of work and how these principles will apply as organizations try to go back to the office to a certain extent, and in the future hybrid work.

Ken Blanchard: 
Well, to me, one of the really positive things that come out of this whole COVID thing is Zoom. I mean, I never even knew anything about Zoom, but Zoom permits you to meet with people without people having to travel into an office and well that, and I think that if you looked at your relationship with your people where you had periodic zoom meetings, maybe once a month face to face and fall that some combination of that, but it's amazing. I did a session, last week or so with people from South Africa and Europe and South America and India. All in the same thing, but you can zoom around. You know, I'm not going to have to go on any trips by anymore. Everybody wants me to give a keynote I'll zoom in. 

Uh, but, uh, zoom is this giving us much more flexibility on interacting with people in a quick way. Cause you get a thought, you just email them, say how about a zoom, a quickie. And in a half hour, oh boy that's just amazing. 

Randy Conley: 
Ken's been loving the pandemic in terms of the zoom. He gets to talk to so many more people than he ever could, but I don't know what the world of work is going to look like. Two years from now, five years from now, 10 years from now. But what I do know is that trust will be absolutely essential to success and whatever that looks like. And I've been leading hybrid teams for over 15 years. Unlike Ken, I was very familiar with zoom. I was actually using zoom eight, nine years ago when nobody knew what zoom was and that was my attempt at that time to bring people together, to build relationships in a different way. I don't think a hybrid work, fully remote work, co located, in-person work. There's not one single magic solution. That's better than any of the others. They just are what they are and we have to find different ways to get back to the core of what leadership is, which is relationships. Leadership is all about people. If you don't like people. You probably shouldn't be in a leadership role. It's just that simple. Right? And you also have to remember one of my leadership mentors, Barbara Hart, who was a longtime member of our organization. She said, Randy, people are messy. People are messy. We all come with a lot of gunk to the workplace. And if you don't enjoy people, and leading people, and building relationships with them, you should find a different line of work. But trust will be essential. Whatever the future of work looks like, finding new and creative ways to build relationships with people. And in this world of hybrid work, I think we're finding the most successful leaders are those who are very intentional. I meet a lot of leaders who say, I can't wait to get back in the office. This zoom stuff is so impersonal, and I'm like, well, you're probably not trying very hard to find ways to make it more personal. let's focus on the people. Let's focus on building trust with them. And I think we'll find our way to success.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
Oh, I love that, Randy. I was just having a conversation with Aaron Hurst who wrote the purpose economy and he makes fun of the virtual water cooler as people try to do on zoom. Not because of them using zoom. He says, you have to be intentional. What is the purpose of it? If you can find a way, whether it's through zoom or otherwise, to increase that connection and that trust by all means do it, but don't just do something because you heard someone else do it or go back to the office place because that's the way you used to do it before. 

Now in addition to the book, are there any leadership practices or resources you typically find yourself recommending to leaders wanting to improve themselves?

Randy Conley: 
There's a whole host of things. The old saying that we're standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. I mean, Ken has built his work on others, like Peter Drucker and, Dale Carnegie back in the early 20th century. And I'm building my work on Ken. So we're all standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. And I would direct people to a couple of different places. Our company website is a great resource. kenblanchard.com You go there, we have a research and insights section. That's got lots of free resources, not just Blanchard related, but also pointing you to other resources in the field of leadership. My blog, leading with trust, same thing I feature lots of Book reviews from other prominent thought leaders, articles on a wide variety of topics, mostly trust and leadership, but others topics as well. So I think those are a couple of good places to start. But we're both huge fans of Simon Sinek, Jim Collins, his work. , Brene Brown,Marshall Goldsmith. Those are all fabulous folks that, we have drawn upon. And we're all talking about the same basic things, right? We all have our unique slants and approaches to things. But what we're talking about is leaders being of service to others, serving the best interest of those that we're responsible for and building high trust, high quality relationships. That's what it keeps coming back to.

Mahan Tavakoli: 
And that is what has, contributed over the years to my own development. I know Ken you've also written books with Norman Vincent Peale, Zig Ziglar, these people whose tapes I used to listen to at the very beginning, when I read Dale Carnegie book before even getting involved in training and development. We stand on the shoulders of giants. And I appreciate you mentioning that, Randy because in addition to all the great insights that you've shared on trust, and I appreciate that because I agree with you that regardless of whether we are remote hybrid in person that trust factor is critical in leadership. I have to give a tip of a hat to a quote by Ken. He says effective leadership is a transformational journey. Beginning with self and Mr. Ken Blanchard, you have helped that transformational journey for this person for almost 40 years. I appreciate all the work you've done over the years. Both in your writing most, especially in the example you have sets on leadership. Thank you so much for this conversation. Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley.

Randy Conley: 
Thank you Mahan. 

Ken Blanchard: 
Mahan we really enjoyed it. I just want to learn from other people and we've learned a lot, just listening to you. My mother used to say, why don't you write some books by yourself? Cause I've written over 65 and only two by myself, one on golf. So many people help. My golf came I didn't. And one of my spiritual journey, but everybody else has always been co-author because I love to work with others. And that's why it's fun to listen and be in a conversation with somebody who studied the field and is fascinated by it and interested like you. So you're the best. So thanks so much for having us. 

Randy Conley: 
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you, Mahan.

Mahan Tavakoli:
Appreciate that Ken. One final thought is that by itself is a reflection of you not having a very big ego because any author with a big ego would have wanted a lot of books just in their own name. And you have the name recognition and power to put out lots of books just in your name and they would sell a lot. That's why I say, it's not just the words that you write in your books. It's how you behave as a leader that supports those words. That's what I appreciate. Thank you so much.

ken and randy: 
God bless. Thank you.