The One Minute Manager

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“There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals,” is how Kenneth Blanchard introduces the reader of this book into the secrets of ‘Situational Leadership’.

The story is all about the great ‘One Minute Manager’. “The One Minute Manager’s symbol – a one-minute readout from the face of a modern digital watch – is intended to remind each of us to take a minute out of our day to look into the faces of the people we manage.”

The One Minute Manager invites an entrepreneur into his company. The entrepreneur is interested in the way the manager treats, interacts with, manages and influences his employees. The One Minute Manager proposes to the entrepreneur that she talks with his colleagues. In the conversations the entrepreneur realizes that the One Minute Manager influences every employee in a different way. He has a very adaptive leadership style. The One Minute Manager explains that there are four different styles with combinations of directive and supportive behavior to obtain the right approach. Directing, coaching, supporting and delegating are all possible, but there is no best leadership style.

“Everyone has peak performance potential. You just need to know where they are coming from and meet them there.”

How do you know which style you have to use? You diagnose the development level of the person you want to affect. There are four levels: (1) Low competence, high commitment; (2) Low competence, low commitment; (3) High competence, variable commitment; (4) High competence, high commitment.

“When the Best Leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’”

Situational Leadership Model

There is a relationship and interaction between the four leadership styles and the four development levels. When you apply the adaptive style the employee needs, you can develop competence and commitment. Related to this theory, there is also a performance curve from (1) directing (low supporting, high directing) to (2) coaching (high supporting, high directing) to (3) supporting (high supporting, low directing) ending in (4) delegating (low supporting, low directing). For example, the person is involved in a task and he suggests variable commitment behavior. You use the supporting behavior.

The biggest approach for a leader is to evolve as many tasks as possible towards ‘delegating’. This downsizes the workload and promotes the involvement and the feeling of ownership in an employee for a particular task.

Beyond this theory there are three important skills a leader must master and be aware of:

– Flexibility: the ability to react to different situations and estimate the development level of the employee.
– Diagnosis: the ability to recognize goals, compliments and reprimands. In some cases the person also needs another leadership style, sometimes opposite to the performance curve.
– Partnering: the ability to develop successful, long-term relationships between the employee and the leader.

Like classic stories, the book ends with “and they live happily ever after…”

The entrepreneur adapts the information and implements the way of leadership in her company. ”What the entrepreneur had built was an organization in which people’s contributions were valued. Her responsive style encourage others to take risks and responsibility until, in time, it was hard to distinguish who the entrepreneur was.”