“The View From Here” is a feature on our blog that will give you the chance to reflect and learn about our guest presenters.
Leadership expert Ken Blanchard has written or co-authored over sixty books, including his mega-hit The One Minute Manager, which has sold over 13 million copies. He is the Chief Spiritual Officer for The Ken Blanchard Companies, which he co-founded with his wife, Margie. He recently joined us at Rancho La Puerta to share his wisdom on leadership and enjoy downtime with his wife.
What’s your earliest memory of leadership, and who inspired you?
I was really fortunate that my father was a navy man and retired as an Admiral. I’ll never forget the day I was elected President of seventh grade. When I got home all pumped up, my dad said, “Your leadership training begins now. The best leaders are those who have position and power and never have to use it. Great leaders are great because people respect and trust them, not because they have power. It’s a myth in the military that leaderships is about ‘my way or the highway.’ Sure, in battle, someone has to call the shots, but if you act like you’re a bigger deal than your men, they’ll shoot you before the enemy can.” So, my dad was my leadership trainer.
What prompted you to run for President in seventh grade?
It made sense because I was smart and played basketball. My friends told me I should run. Seeing my dad as a leader, I thought, “Why not?”
What does it take to be a good leader in the polarized climate that we’re living in?
The sad thing today is that nobody is listening to anybody. Things are set up as win or lose confrontations. I’m really into servant leadership, and there are two parts: leadership and direction. One of the problems in so many organizations is they don’t have a clear vision of what business they’re in. So, they don’t know if they’re doing a good job. They don’t know what values should be guiding their journey. We, as a country, don’t have agreed-upon values. So, the first part of servant leadership is vision and direction. That’s the responsibility of the hierarchy. Once that’s clear, the next part is that the hierarchy pyramid needs to be flipped where leaders work for the people. Great leaders are people who realize they’re here to serve, not to be served.
What have you done to have a positive impact on yourself?
I’ve written over 60 books. Only two of those have been by myself. One about golf because so many people have helped me with my game, and another is about my spiritual journey. The rest are co-authored. I continue to grow because I want to learn from people. That’s probably why I love coming to The Ranch. I meet so many interesting people, and the workshops are fascinating. People come to learn and improve themselves.
What do you consider to be your greatest success?
My greatest success is that our kids run our business now. We have a family council that runs the business; our son is the President, and our daughter heads up marketing. My son’s wife is the head of our coaching business. My wife’s brother is the CEO. When they all started to come work with us, we decided we didn’t want the company to screw up our family. We formed a family council and hired an outside consultant to help us meet as a family. We’ve been doing that for 25 years, so there are no issues we won’t deal with. A lot of family businesses get screwed up because they don’t talk to each other. We have over 300 employees. We want to create a company that’s a community that people want to work with.
What’s the best advice that someone has given you?
I think my mother gave me the best advice. She said to me several times, “don’t act like your better than anyone else, and don’t let anyone act like they’re better than you. God didn’t make any junk.” There’s a pearl of goodness in every human being. Sometimes you have to dig for it, but it’s there. That’s why I love people. I’m always looking to the pearl.
What have you learned from 57 years of marriage?
Nothing good happens by accident. We have gone to a lot of marriage training and value each other’s time. Most people don’t talk enough and share how they’re doing. Marjorie has a Ph.D. in communication, and I’m the Chief Spiritual Officer. We build on each other’s skills and help cover each other’s weaknesses rather than trying to convince each other to be more like the other.
Do you have a quote or a motto?
None of us is as smart as all of us.
See who will be presenting with us next.