Book Review: Leading at a Higher Level

“Leadership is about going somewhere. If you and your people don’t know where you are going, your leadership doesn’t matter.”  I’ve become a fan of Ken Blanchard‘s leadership strategies as I’ve read several leadership books by other authors that consistently reference his work.  Leading at a Higher Level is a book that I picked up for free in the Amazon Kindle store several weeks ago.  After reading this book, I gladly would have paid full price for it and would recommend this as a great resource for others that desire to grow in leadership.  This book is not for the leader that desires to maintain the status quo, it is for the leader that desires to grow and stretch themselves daily in an effort to better their organization and add value to those on their team.

I highlighted several things while reading and have posted them below…

  • In recent years, we have taken the emphasis away from goal accomplishment and have defined leadership as the capacity to influence others by unleashing their power and potential to impact the greater good.
  • Leadership should not be done purely for personal gain or goal accomplishment; it should have a much higher purpose than that.
  • When you are leading at a higher level, you have a both/and philosophy. The development of people—both customers and employees—is of equal importance to performance. As a result, the focus in leading at a higher level is on long-term results and human satisfaction.
  • Our picture of the future is • Everyone is trained to lead at a higher level. • Every organization is led by people leading at a higher level. • People are motivated to lead at a higher level by observing people who lead at a higher level.
  • The target you aim for has a lot to do with your performance.
  • If you don’t take care of your customers, somebody else will.
  • Raving fans are created by companies whose service far exceeds that of the competition and even exceeds customer expectations. These companies routinely do the unexpected and then enjoy the growth generated by customers who have spontaneously joined their sales force.
  • Sharing information and facilitating open communication builds trust and encourages people to act like owners of the organization. Encouraging dialogue lessens the danger of territoriality and keeps the organization healthy, agile, flexible, and fluid.
  • A compelling vision is the hallmark of a high performing organization. When everyone supports such an organizational vision—including purpose, a picture of the future, and values—it creates a deliberate, highly focused culture that drives the desired business results toward a greater good.
  • High performing organizations are constantly focusing on improving their capabilities through learning systems, building knowledge capital, and transferring learning throughout the organization. Organizational learning is different from individual learning. High performing organizations engage in both. Everyone is always striving to get better, both individually and as an organization.
  • High performing organizations rely not on cultivating a great, charismatic leader, but on building a visionary organization that endures beyond the leader.
  • Leadership is about going somewhere. If you and your people don’t know where you are going, your leadership doesn’t matter.
  • Great organizations have a deep and noble sense of purpose—a significant purpose—that inspires excitement and commitment.
  • Regardless of how you initially draft the vision, it’s important that you get input from those it affects before you finalize it. Ask people these questions: “Would you like to work for an organization that has this vision? Can you see where you fit in the vision? Does it help you set priorities? Does it provide guidelines for making decisions? Is it exciting and motivating? Have we left anything out? Should we delete anything?” Involving people will deepen their understanding and commitment and create a better vision.
  • Legendary Service goes beyond merely good customer service—and it doesn’t happen by accident. It begins with leaders who believe that outstanding service is a top priority.
  • Legendary Service inspires customers to tell stories about your company. When customers tell positive stories about you and your level of service, you cannot ask for better publicity.
  • When a customer tells you something, you have to listen without being defensive.
  • When customers are upset, all they want is to be heard. In fact, we have found that if people listen to a complaining customer in a nondefensive, attentive way and then ask, “Is there any way we could win back your loyalty?, more often than not the customer will say, “You’ve already done it. You listened to me.”
  • Empowerment requires a major shift in attitude. The most crucial place that this shift must occur is in the heart of every leader.
  • Empowerment is the creation of an organizational climate that releases the knowledge, experience, and motivation that reside in people.
  • One of the best ways to build a sense of trust and responsibility in people is by sharing information.
  • When important information is shared with people, they soon act like owners. They begin to solve problems creatively, which makes celebrating the wins even more special.
  • Empowerment means that people have the freedom to act. It also means that they are accountable for results.
  • Leadership is not something you do to people, but something you do with people.
  • You can expect more if you inspect more.
  • The number one motivator of people is feedback on results.
  • Coaching is a deliberate process using focused conversations to create an environment that results in individual growth, purposeful action, and sustained improvement.
  • Diagnosing the level of productivity and morale is a clear way to determine a team’s development stage and understand team needs at any point in time.
  • People often resent change when they have no involvement in how it should be implemented. So, contrary to popular belief, people don’t resist change—they resist being controlled.
  • Which of the following are you more likely to commit to: a decision made by others that is being imposed on you, or a decision you’ve had a chance to provide input into?
  • “People who are left out of shaping change have a way of reminding us that they are really important.”
  • Those who plan the battle rarely battle the plan.
  • “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”
  • “A leader needs to attract followers … but if the mobilization process is to succeed, those followers must become leaders too, finding their own sense of purpose in the shared challenge and spreading the call and vision of the change.”
  • When leaders make a positive difference, people act like they own the place, and they bring their brains to work.
  • It is also interesting to note that positive employee passion creates positive customer devotion.
  • Humility tames your judgmental nature and motivates you to reach out to support and encourage others. That’s where your power comes from.
  • Servant leadership is not just another management technique. It is a way of life for those with servant hearts.
  • If you can teach people your leadership point of view, they will not only have the benefit of understanding where you’re coming from, but they’ll also be clear on what you expect from them and what they can expect from you.

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