The One Minute Manager

In preparation for my eventual transition as a Senior Pastor, I’ve made it a habit of asking men in my life whom I respect and have mentored, challenged, and encouraged me over the years what advice they would give me as I seek to prepare for this exciting and challenging soon-to-arrive time in my life.  One such man is Dr. Lawless.  When I asked him what I should be doing to prepare, for leading a local church, facilitating a staff, casting a vision, etc. his immediate response was I should be reading as many books on leadership as I could get my hands on.  I’ll be honest, I was expecting him to say, “you should brush up on books that deal with preaching,” or “put together a yearly preaching calendar,”…or any number of other things?  It wasn’t as if I didn’t think leadership was important.  I just felt as if in light of all of the “other” things it wasn’t quite as important.  I’m not sure where I got this notion.  Maybe it was my fleshly tendency to compartmentalize issues as either “spiritual” or “secular.”  Yet, as I read Scripture passages such as Colossians 3:17 and 3:23 and many, many others, I realize that there is no such dichotomy that the Bible teaches; everything we do is spiritual, or at least it should be.  So, on account of Dr. Lawless’ apt and wise advice I’ve tried to read as many books on leadership as I could get my hands on.  Right now, I’m reading through a book on George Washington and the leadership principles that can be gleaned from his life as our first Commander in Chief, as well as General of the Continental Army.  In the past, I’ve read Ken Blanchard’s book “Leading at a Higher Level.”  Not to presume that I’m at a higher level, but I certainly want to familiarize, as well as adopt leadership practices and principles that will help me lead at a higher level – I’ll have to blog about this later…it was a fantastic book; a book written for a “secular” audience, but most certainly has a litany of principles that are transferable to ministry.  This past week I finished a book entitled the “The One Minute Manager” by Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D. and Spencer Johnson, M.D.  I have heard about this book for years, but for whatever reason never bought it – probably because reading and digesting books on leadership weren’t at the top of my list as a seminarian and then as a graduate student at UK?  The book has been widely read and even spent over two years on the New York Times Bestseller List.  My wife and I love to read and often frequent Half Price Bookstore, which is where I bought my copy and for only $3.00.  And unlike many leadership books that are hundreds and hundreds of pages, this one is a mere 100 pages long.  The book is an allegory that seeks to compile all of the the wisdom that has impacted and molded Drs. Blanchard and Johnson.  The book starts with the following paragraph: “once there was a bright young man who was looking for an effective manager.  He wanted to work for one.  He wanted to become one.  His search had taken him over many years to the far corners of the world.  He had been in small towns and in the capitals of powerful nations” (pp.11).  And then the young man heard “marvelous stories about a special manager who lived, ironically in a nearby town.  He heard that people liked to work for this man and that they produced great results together.  The young man wondered if the stories were really true and, if so, whether this manager would be willing to share his secrets with him” (pp. 12).  And so the story unfolds with this young man interviewing the manager in charge, as well as his subordinates, three in particular.  Without going into a lot of detail, I’ll simply recount the high-points of the book in bullet-form.

  • People who feel good about themselves – produce good results
  • One-minute goal setting:
  • Agree on your goals, see what good behavior looks like, write out each of your goals on a simple sheet of paper using less than 250 words, read and reread each goal, take a minute to look at your performance, and see whether or not your behavior matches your goal.
  • Help people reach their full potential – catch them doing something right
  • One minute praisings:
  • Tell the people upfront that you are going to let them know how they are doing, praise people immediately, tell people what they did right – be specific, tell people how good you feel about what they did right and how it helps the org and the other people who work there, stop for a moment of silence to let them “feel” how good you feel, encourage them to do more of the same, and shake hands or touch people in a way that makes it clear that you support their success in the org.
  • One minute reprimand:
  • Tell people beforehand that you are going to let them know how they are doing and in no uncertain terms – the first hald of the reprimand – reprimand people immediately, tell people what they did wrong – be specific, tell people how you feel about what they did wrong – and in no uncertain terms, stop for a few seconds of uncomfortable silence to let them feel how you feel – the second half of the reprimand – shake hands, or touch them in a way that lets them know you are honestly on their side, remind them how much you value them, reaffirm that you think well of htem but not of their performance in this situation, and realize that when the reprimand is over, it’s over.
  • The best minute I spend is the one I invest in people.
  • Everyone is a potential winner. Some people are disguised as losers, don’t let their apperances fool you.
  • We are not just our behavior, we are the person managing our behavior.
  • Goals begin behaviors.  Consequences maintain behaviors.

The preceding sentences hit the high-points of the book, but truly, you should go pick it up or order it yourself – its a great read and I’m certain you’ll benefit from it, regardless, of what occupation you’re currently in.

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