Column: Best-selling author Ken Blanchard has a new book for the leader in all of us

He has been in the leadership business for 40-plus years, so it’s no surprise that management guru and best-selling author Ken Blanchard has acquired some impressive titles along the way.

He is the co-founder of the Ken Blanchard Companies, the Escondido-based international management training and consulting firm that he and his wife, best-selling author Margie Blanchard, started in 1979. He is a trustee emeritus of Cornell University’s Board of Trustees .He teaches students in the Master of Science in Executive Leadership program at the University of San Diego.

And in 2005, the co-author of 1982’s “The One Minute Manager” (which Blanchard wrote with Spencer Johnson) was inducted into Amazon’s Hall of Fame as one of the Top 25 best-selling authors of all time.

Of all the titles Blanchard holds, however, there is one that fits him like a custom-tailored suit. Probably because there is nothing buttoned-up about it.

“At our company, I’m the chief spiritual officer, which means head cheerleader,” said Blanchard, who turned 83 earlier this month. “We want to keep pumping people up with encouragement.”

With its simple management techniques for goal-setting and other business basics, along with such motivational nuggets as “People who feel good about themselves produce good results,” “The One Minute Manager” made better employer-employee relations a matter of treating workers like human beings.

It was a surprising notion at the time, but like Blanchard himself, it is just as classic as it ever was. In Blanchard’s latest book, which he wrote with trust expert Randy Conley, he is still accentuating the positive and still acting as head cheerleader for Team Humanity.

The book is “Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust.” Released in February, “Simple Truths of Leadership” lays out 52 straightforward principles for the care and feeding of a thriving organization. Principles like, “Great organizations have a compelling vision.” And, “Never assume you know what motivates a person.” And, “Leadership begins with trust.”

As Blanchard and Johnson did with “The One Minute Manager,” the new book breaks down the complicated process of building positive working relationships into bite-sized chunks of common-sense wisdom. The advice is so straightforward, in fact, that the authors considered giving the book this catchy title: “DUH! Why Isn’t Common Sense Leadership Common Practice?”

As Blanchard sees it, the answer to that question is pretty much a no-duh, too.

“The biggest (stumbling block) is the human ego. Leaders think that all of the brains are in their office. It is really interesting,” said Blanchard, who will join co-author Conley on June 1 for an in-person discussion and book-signing at Warwick’s bookstore in La Jolla.

“There are two ways ego gets in the way. One is you have false pride and you act like you are smarter than everyone else. The other is self-doubt. With a great leader, when things go well, they look out of the window and give everyone credit. When things don’t go well, they look in the mirror and take responsibility.”

As evidenced by the titles of just a few of the 65-plus books he has coauthored — “Whale Done!: The Power of Positive Relationships”; “Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life”; “The Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure” — Blanchard is not one of those ego-driven leaders.

“I teasingly and lovingly call him ‘Captain Optimism.’ He is a possibility thinker. He always sees the opportunity in situations that come up. That is one of the big keys to his success,” said co-author Conley, who has written several books with Blanchard and is also vice president of global services for the Ken Blanchard Companies.

“Another one is that he is very genuine and authentic. The guy you see on stage giving a keynote speech is not any different from the guy I’m going to have a Zoom meeting with tomorrow. He loves people. He loves helping people, he loves serving people and he likes learning from people. That open-hearted approach to life and others has really been a huge asset to him.”

And one of the strengths of “Simple Truths of Leadership” is that you don’t have to be a corporate honcho to reap its benefits.

With sections devoted to such essentials as building trust in relationships, creating a motivating environment, and restoring broken trust, Blanchard and Conley’s latest is more than a book about building better leaders. It’s a book about building our best selves.

“We have a pretty liberal definition of a leader. All of us are leaders in many different contexts of our lives, whether it’s as parents, coaches, community leaders. Pretty much everyone is a leader in some way, and these simple truths can benefit you in all aspects of your life,” Conley said.

“I have been working with Ken for almost 26 years now, and the work we do is to help people lead better lives. Not just at work, but outside of work as well.”

Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley will discuss and sign “Simple Truths of Leadership” on June 1 at 7:30 pm at Warwick’s bookstore in La Jolla. The event is free, but admission is subject to available space. Reserved seating is available when the book is pre-ordered from Warwick’s. Go to warwicks.com/event/blanchard-and-conley-2022 for information.

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