The Marketing Bookclub, February 2017 – By Malcolm Johnston

Malcolm Johnston’s choice:

malcolm johnston, regional director, the marketing centre

Leadership and the One Minute Manager’ by Kenneth Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi, Drea Zigarmi

First published in 1999, Blanchard and Zigarmi’s much-respected ‘Leadership and the One Minute Manager’ is a quickfire guide to getting the most from teams. The book has aged like a fine wine, says Malcolm Johnston, our Regional Director for the Eastern Counties

I first read this book in August 1989, when I was at BT and struggling to manage a team of systems engineers and inside sales people – each with rather different talents and experience. It is the thinnest management textbook I have ever read, and one of the most useful to help define a method for team management. Since that time, I have applied the principles in this book with all of my teams and across multiple cultures – including a team of twelve representing ten cultures across seven countries!

As I lecture on the postgraduate CIM Diploma, I am constantly amazed at the number of students in my class who are in leadership positions but have never had any people management training, let alone an introduction to the style – Situational Leadership – espoused in this and Blanchard’s earlier book, ‘The One Minute Manager’. In six years of teaching at Level Six I have only met three students who have worked for a boss who always put team before self!

Situational Leadership is simple to use, logical and effective. Introduced here in an accessible story format, it helps to build a happier, more engaged team. Given the UK’s figures on employee engagement, we could do with a lot more of that.

The core insight behind Situational Leadership is simple: “different strokes for different folks”. Until reading this book – possibly given my Sandhurst training – I tended to deal with everyone in the same way. I had even thought of this as a virtue. Blanchard points out that everyone in a team will be at different stages of development, competence and motivation. It makes sense, he suggests, to negotiate with each person the management style that works best for them; directing, supporting, coaching or delegating. Indeed, he suggests that the style of management should alter project by project. Given the fluidity of the modern workplace, this idea should have even greater resonance now than when the book was first published in 1999.

It’s a short book (just over 140 pages), so needs only a short review – but, for a book that can be read in one commuting day (or between two stops on Southern Rail), the impact for you and your employees will last a lifetime.

Malcolm Johnston is our Regional Director for the Eastern Counties. An experienced and dynamic marketing director with over 25 years B2B line management experience across the globe, Malcolm is a leader in strategic marketing and customer management change programmes. He seeks to deliver sustained improvements in revenue, brand value, customer satisfaction and employee engagement. Malcolm’s portfolio covers a breadth of industries, including defence electronics, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, supply chain technology, agriculture, facilities management.