.Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. Thomas Nelson. 254 pages. 2008 edition
I recently reread this book, which was the first, and I believe, still the best, treatment of servant leadership that I have read. The authors tell us that the world is in desperate need of a different leadership role model. Many leaders act as if the sheep are there only for the benefit of the shepherd. The good news is that there is a better way. There is one perfect leadership role model you can trust, and His name is Jesus.
The authors tell us that self-promotion (pride) and self-protection (fear) are the reigning motivations that dominate the leadership landscape today. But Jesus is clear about how He wants us to lead: He asks us to make a difference in our world by being effective servant leaders. For followers of Jesus, servant leadership isn’t an option; it’s a mandate.
The authors indicate that leadership is a process of influence. Anytime you seek to influence the thinking, behavior, or development of people in their personal or professional lives, you are taking on the role of a leader. The key question is going to be whether we seek to be served, or to be served.
The authors describe two primary types of leadership – life role and organizational. Life role leadership functions in enduring relationships (parent, spouse, sibling, friend, citizen), while organizational leadership involves positions and titles bestowed at the convenience of the organization to serve the perceived needs and culture of the organization. The most dramatic difference between life role leadership and organizational leadership involves the permanence of the relationships the leader is trying to influence. The authors tell us that most of the leadership that shapes our lives does not come from leaders with titles on an organization chart; it comes from leaders in our daily life role relationships.
Every leader must answer two critical questions: 1. Whose am I? 2. Who am I? The first question— “Whose am I?”—deals with choosing the primary authority and audience for your life. The second question— “Who am I?”—deals with your life purpose.
The authors write that there are two aspects of leading like Jesus. The first is an understanding that leading like Jesus is a transformational journey. The second and most important, which is the essence of their book, is to learn and internalize the four domains of leadership.
Leading like Jesus is a transformational cycle that begins with personal leadership, then moves to leading others in one on one relationships, then to leading a team or group, and finally to leading an organization or community. Leading like Jesus involves the alignment of four leadership domains: heart, head, hands, and habits. When your heart, head, hands, and habits are aligned, extraordinary levels of loyalty, trust, and productivity will result. The book goes into detail on each of these four leadership domains in a practical and helpful manner.
The concepts in this book are not complex but they are challenging. They can be applied at any level of leadership, from the family to the corporate board room. To assist the reader, the book includes “Pause and Reflect” stops in each chapter to give you a chance to let the message to penetrate your heart as well as your mind. A helpful “Summary” is included at the end of each chapter and a detailed “Discussion Guide” is included at the end of the book, which includes a summary of key concepts contained in the book and a series of discussion questions. The Discussion Guide allows this to be an excellent book to read and discuss with others.
I highly recommend this book for those who want to be servant leaders.
The Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent, and Treasure by Ken Blanchard and Truett Cathy. Zondervan. 138 pages. 2009
This book, about stewardship and the joy we can find in giving, is written like most of Ken Blanchard’s books, communicating his messages through a leadership fable. Blanchard wrote the book with Truett Cathy. Those familiar with the life of the Chick Fil-A founder will recognize many things in the book that point to his life and the culture of Chick Fil-A.
In the book, we are introduced to a few primary characters. First, we meet the Broker, a young man who has a successful online brokerage house. But he rejected his father’s attempts to instill an old-fashioned work ethic in him. He is disgusted by an unkempt Bag Lady who he sees daily outside of his high-rise, eventually calling the police on her.
We also meet the Broker’s Driver, who served time as a young man, but benefitted significantly from the Teacher, who poured her life into the young men in the institution. As a result, today the Driver is known as a gentle, caring man, a father and husband.
We are introduced to the Executive, who built a multi-state chain of auto parts and service centers from a simple idea in a single location. He now has more than eight hundred auto service centers and parts outlets scattered throughout the southwestern United States.
The Broker reads a story in his favorite financial newspaper about the Executive who claims that the greatest joy in his life was his ability to give to others. This is inconceivable to the Broker, who decides to call the Executive. That conversation leads to the Broker, described as the hardest, coldest man in New York, to travel to meet the Executive, who may well be the most tenderhearted man in Denver.
Over the course of a few days the Executive shares with the Broker the elements of a plan that makes it a pleasure to give, which he calls the Generosity Factor, to the Broker. The Executive shares his secret so that the Broker can change his world, just as the Executive has changed his. He shares concepts such as Time, Talent, Treasure and Touch, as well as the impact his faith has had on his generosity. He also shares the “three M’s”, Master, Mission and Mate and the importance of the blessings in our lives. But will the Executive be able to get through to the cold-hearted Broker?
I really enjoyed this simple story that communicates important truths.
Servant Leadership in Action: How You Can Achieve Great Relationships and Results. Edited by Ken Blanchard and Renee Broadwell. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. 265 pages. 2018
In the “Foreword” to this collection of essays about servant leadership, John Maxwell writes that he and Ken Blanchard have believed that the only way to create great relationships and results is through servant leadership. He writes that it’s all about putting other people first. Over the past several years, I have greatly benefited from the teaching on servant leadership from Maxwell, Blanchard and many of the contributors in this book.
In the “Introduction”, Blanchard writes that the world is in desperate need of a different leadership role model, as we have all seen the negative impact of self-serving leaders in every sector of our society. He tells us that servant leadership was central to the philosophy of Jesus. While several of the contributors are Christians, a major goal of the book is to prove that servant leadership has application in both secular and spiritual leadership in every kind of organization, including business, government, education, and places of worship.
The book is aimed at anyone in a leadership position. The contributors hope that one day all will be impacted by someone who is a servant leader, and self-serving leaders will be a thing of the past.
The book is organized into six parts:
Part One: Fundamentals of Servant Leadership
Part Two: Elements of Servant Leadership
Part Three: Lessons in Servant Leadership
Part Four: Exemplars of Servant Leadership
Part Five: Putting Servant Leadership to Work
Part Six: Servant Leadership Turnarounds
Short essays are written by a literal “Who’s Who” of leadership, authors that have had a positive impact on my leadership such as Blanchard, Patrick Lencioni,
Stephen M.R. Covey, Mark Miller, Simon Sinek, Marshall Goldsmith, Henry Cloud and Dave Ramsey. Blanchard provides a short introduction to each of the essays.
There is so much of value in this book that it can be overwhelming. What I would recommend is to go through the book and read Blanchard’s short introductions to decide if you want to read that particular essay at this time.
A few of the many takeaways I had from the book were:
What is Servant Leadership? by Ken Blanchard
There are two parts to servant leadership:
- A visionary/direction, or strategic, role – the leadership aspect of servant leader; and
- An implementation, or operational, role – the servant aspect of servant leadership.
To me, servant leadership is the only way to guarantee great relationships and results.
Servant Leadership at the Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey
I became increasingly convinced that the practices of servant leadership and trust are inextricably linked. Today, I find it difficult to talk about serving without also talking about trust – and vice versa.
The strong bias of the servant leader is to extend trust to others.
The Evolution of Servant Leadership by Simon Sinek
Though someone may choose servant leadership for the results, the reason we continue to practice the discipline is for the joy of the journey.
One Question Every Servant Leader Should Ask by Marshall Goldsmith
Am I willing at this time to make the investment required to make a positive difference on this topic?
In the Service of Others: When Leaders Dare to Rehumanize Work by Brene Brown
Servant leadership and shame culture cannot coexist for a simple reason: the foundation of servant leadership is courage and shame breeds fear.
Compassion: The Heart of Servant Leadership by Craig Groeschel
True servant leadership means you are called to care – not to just feel sorry for someone or feel sympathy or empathy – but to do something. Why? Because to say you care, and then not act, is to not care at all. True servant leadership cares. And because it cares, it must act.
A Baptism of Leadership by Erwin Raphael McManus
We tend to want God’s power but not His character. Yet only when we embrace His character are we trustworthy with His power. Servant leadership understands that our calling is not to overpower but to empower.
Jesus: The Greatest Example of a Servant Leader by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges
For followers of Jesus, servant leadership is not an option; servant leadership is a mandate.
Leading is Serving by Dave Ramsey
If there’s one key to servant leadership, it’s pretty simple: put other people first.
This would be an excellent book to read and discuss with other leaders in a “Book Club” setting.
A Servant Leadership in Action Livecast was held on February 28. You can watch the event here.
Refire! Don’t Retire: Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life by Ken Blanchard and Morton Shaevitz. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 144 pages. 2015. Audiobook read by Joe Bronzi
I have read a number of books by Ken Blanchard and have seen him speak several times as well. He is the author of such books as The One Minute Manager and Lead Like Jesus. Last year I read his book Trust Works! See my review here.
As I am now much closer to retirement than to the beginning of my career, the subject of this book resonated with me. The book asks the question “As you approach the remainder of your life, what are you going to do to make it joyful and meaningful?” The authors point out that too many people see their later years as a time to endure rather than as an exciting opportunity. The authors worked to identify the factors that cause some people to become old before their time. They found four characteristics that distinguish people who feel innovative and vibrant from those who feel as if they are in a rut intellectually, emotionally, physically, or spiritually.
They use a parable to tell the story of Larry and Janice Sparks. We meet them at their 45th high school reunion. They run into Dr. Jeffrey, who was one of their high school teachers. Dr. Jeffrey is now a college professor and living life with passion and gusto. The two decide to ask for some refiring coaching from Dr. Jeffrey. He takes them on a refiring journey, asking them to meet with different people along each step of the journey as he challenges them to refire emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually.
- Refire Emotionally
- Larry and Janice form a “Last Minute Club” with their friends to demonstrate that they are flexible and spontaneous. To be honest, flexible and spontaneous are two words that those who know me well would not use to describe me.
- Larry and Janice are encouraged to venture out of their comfort zone. I like and thrive when I am in my comfort zone, but understand how some get in a rut when they are comfortable.
- Refire Intellectually
- Larry and Janice are encouraged to continue to learn new things – read books, take classes. I feel that I am doing well in this area of the refire process, recently completing my seminary education, reading books, listening to podcasts, etc.
- Larry and Janice are encouraged to embrace new technology, though Larry was initially resisting this. Heroes in this area include my mother-in-law and father who are 80+ and have each learned how to use an iPad.
- Refire Physically
- Larry and Janice learned that they can refire physically by:
- Exercise – fun, walk, strength training
- Lose weight by eating better
- Get more rest/sleep
- Refire Spiritually
- The book included vague thoughts on spirituality such as talk about a “higher power”, a “higher mind” and “something bigger than you”.
- Comments like “it doesn’t matter which path you follow” are disappointing from the author of Lead Like Jesus.
- The authors put down “religion” as meaning you have to be right. However, Christians believe there is only one way or path to Heaven and that is through the atoning death of Christ. The authors put forth a pluralistic view of religion.
- On the positive side, there is an emphasis on humility and serving others.
Everyone finds themselves in a rut from time to time. The book shows how people look and deal with aging, and encourages the reader to embrace rather than endure life, or see getting older as a “life sentence”. The takeaways in this short book – there is a helpful “Pause, Reflect and Take Action” section at the end of each chapter – apply to work and life, and could positively impact the rest of your life. The message in the book can resonate not only with older audiences but also with people in their 30s and 40s who may be feeling bored with the status quo and looking to refire aspects of their own lives.