I just completed reading, “The Secret: What Great Leaders Know – And Do”, another excellent Ken Blanchard book. This is not to be confused with another book of the same name by Rhonda Byrne, which I have not yet read. Blanchard teams up with Mark Miller who is the Vice President of Training and Development at Chick-Fil-A. Ken and Mark tell a story of a young manager named Debbie who is struggling in her new position. She enlists in the company’s new leadership mentoring program and is partnered with the head of the company (Jeff) where he teaches her the basic principles of leadership using the SERVE model. Jeff created the acronym, SERVE, to help him in remembering the five key practices of great leaders.
The “S” stands for “See the Future.” We have all heard this before. All great leaders seem to have outstanding vision toward the future and are seemingly able to see things transform before they actually do. As a leader in small business, we must create and maintain a vision of what we want our businesses to be. If it very difficult to travel the long road of success without knowing where you are going. Find out where you want to go, create a map, and stick as closely to your planned route as possible.
The “E” stands for “Engage and Develop Others.” For small business owners, this means that you must have the right employees in the right roles. You must hire the right people. Never underestimate the cost, financial, emotional, physical or time, that you incur from hiring the wrong people. Also, make sure you involve your team members along the way, making them part of the decision making processes. If you are going to achieve the vision you set forth above, you need the buy-in of every employee you have. You need to have as many people working toward your vision as possible.
The “R” stands for “Reinvent Continuously.” In your business, are you still doing things exactly the way you did 10 years ago? In order to maximize your success and to achieve the vision set forth above, it is important to always be looking for new ways to do things – regardless of what those things are. Always be looking for new ways to improve yourself and to learn more ways to do things. A line that stood out in the book for me was, “If you stop learning, you stop leading.”
The “V” stands for “Value Results and Relationships.” Notice how the line is not just value results. If all you care about is results, your employees will quickly realize this. Would you be motivated if you knew the only thing your boss cared about was results – regardless of its affects on the employees? This is where the leader must be able to listen, invest time getting to know his employees, care deeply for them and to accentuate the positive in the things that they do. See: Whale Done!
The second “E” stands for “Embody the Values.” In order to reach your full potential as a leader, your employees must trust you and they must trust what you say. If you tell your employees that customers are important, but your actions suggest otherwise, then your customers are not going to be very important to your employees. You need to profess what the core values of your business are and embody them. Live these values yourself and set the example for your employees.
I highly recommend this book for anyone in a leadership role – especially if you are new. The book is an extremely fast read – possibly a one nighter – at only 115 pages. If you have ever read a Ken Blanchard book before, you know that the story pulls you in unlike few management/business books do.