My Favorite Dinner Guest (With Whom I Never Actually Dined!)

June 12, 2013
  • Bob Chapman
  • Bob Chapman
    CEO & Chairman of Barry-Wehmiller
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Someone once posed this question to me: If you could have dinner with anyone, whom would you invite to sit at your table?

Several weeks ago, while participating in a World Business Academy & Transformational Leadership Council event, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting one of my picks: Ken Blanchard.

Bob-with-Ken-Blanchard-1024x786Ken is a best-selling author and organizational leadership expert. I have long-admired his writing for its simple, plain wisdom expressed in a way which compels action. 

In the early 1980s when Barry-Wehmiller was experiencing challenges, it was Ken’s One Minute Manager that I often turned to for direction.

That book, which has sold more than 13 million copies and been translated into 37 languages, helped to shape my personal leadership style. It offered a markedly different perspective on effective business leadership than my predecessors at Barry-Wehmiller before I took over upon my father’s death.

More recently, I loved Ken's book, The Leadership Pill, which he co-wrote with Mark Muchnick. 

Here are some leadership truths from that book that resonated with me:

  •  You can make a huge difference in the way others feel about themselves by letting them know that you appreciate their efforts and recognize that what they do is important.
  •  Each of us has the power to recognize the goodness in others.
  •  I have yet to meet a group of people who are incapable of becoming a high-performing, committed team IF leadership has ‘integrity’, ’partnership’ and ‘affirmation’.
  •  Integrity is about creating a set of operating values and then living true to them. When a leader’s actions embody the organization’s values, the result is a value-driven culture. Integrity lays the foundation for trust and respect!
  •  Partnership implies that leaders need to help their people work, learn, and grow together in unity. It seems like all the money, recognition, and power move up the hierarchy, away from the people who do all of the work and who are closest to the customer. Partnership harvests the potential of the team.
  •  Affirmation makes people feel valued. It lets people know that what they do is important.
  •  Praise is most effective when it is specific, sincere, and given as soon as possible after desired behavior occurs.
  •  Truly effective leaders win the trust and respect of their team members. They excel at empowering others by letting them know that what they do is important.
  •  Profit is the applause you get for taking care of your customers and creating a motivating environment for people.
  •  Trust is what happens when values and behaviors match up.
  •  People are more apt to trust and respect you when what you say and what you do are one in the same.
  •  The true test of leadership is to win the trust and respect of the team, keep their motivation running high, and help them reach new heights. As a result, the team will work together and consistently perform well over time even when the leader is not around.
  •  Leadership is not just what happens when you’re there, it’s what happens when you’re not there.
  •  Leading people is the opposite of trying to control them.
  •  Praise is the easiest way to let people know they are appreciated.
  •  Leadership is the process of getting everyone to the place they are supposed to go.
  •  The highest achievement as a leader is winning the respect and trust of your team.

Getting the opportunity to meet one of my business heroes is something I will always cherish. After we spoke, I sent him a note of thanks for making time for me and for the profound impact his books have had on my life. A few days later, I received a reply.

Ken had been forwarded my TEDx Talk by a mutual friend and had taken the time to watch it. It was terrific, his note said. "I not only love your stories, but love what you have been doing with your company. You are truly a human leader."

That short note of encouragement from a leader among leaders means the world to me. But that’s not surprising.

As Ken wrote in The Leadership Pill, you can make a huge difference in the way others feel about themselves by letting them know that what they do is important.

Forget that dinner; my brief encounter with Ken Blanchard provided plenty of nourishment for my soul.

Who would be seated at your table?

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