Military Book Reviews

Simple Truths of Leadership

Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to be a Servant Leader and Build Trust by Ken Blanchard & Randy Conley. (Polvera Publishing. 2022. 163 pp.)

Effective leadership comes down to implementing every day, common-sense practices to help organizations thrive – and yet so many leaders are still missing these fundamental principles from their personal and professional lives. Renowned business experts Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley disclose the simple truths about leadership they have gathered over their long and distinguished careers to help bring common sense into common practice.

Featuring two sections – servant leadership and building trust – this book is a collection of Blanchard’s greatest hits. It is chock-full of profound and memorable (and in some cases counterintuitive) leadership wisdom, such as: Create autonomy through boundaries. People who plan the battle rarely battle the plan. A relationship with no trust is like a cell phone with no internet. All you can do is play games. The most important part of leadership is what happens when you’re not there.

This book will help listeners incorporate these integral practices into their leadership style, build trust through servant leadership, and make a difference in their own life and the lives of those they influence.

Imagine having the most coveted and distilled truths of leadership and trust from highly respected experts, with decades of experience, in a small volume! That’s what you get from noted guru Ken Blanchard—of The One Minute Manager fame—and co-author/professional/leader/collaborator, Randy Conley. 

These two set out to pen a practical guide of 52 simple truths—yes, one conceivably for each week where readers could read, digest, and apply them—on servant leadership and trust. Blanchard takes on the first 26 covering servant leadership principles, while Conley bats clean up and delves into the topic of trust. 

Each truth comes with a couple of paragraphs of opening statements or a story, followed by a section entitled, “Making Common Sense Common Practice.” Their rationale for such an approach is it is easy to spout these principles and discuss them in the sterile environment of a classroom or around a water cooler, yet it is often harder to put them into practice. Blanchard and Conley desire readers to bridge that gap more easily by putting their money where their mouth is.

Aspiring leaders will find approaches to leadership to add to their kits but could become overwhelmed by the sheer volume and substance in these pages. Again, Blanchard and Conley break down complex ideas by offering practical ways to employ the truths, while also conveying confidence when doing so.

Experienced leaders will also love this book for several reasons. Much of what is here affirms approaches and truths you already employ, which will be a confidence boost that you’ve been on the right path. As well, some truths will just make you feel good and empower you to stretch to be even better than you already are. For example, some of my ‘feel-good’ favorites include, “the best use of power is in service to others”, and “servant leaders don’t command people to obey, they invite people to follow.”

On the trust side, Conley gives us some simple, yet powerful aphorisms packaged in new ways, such as “the opposite of trust is not distrust—it’s control.” Wow! Conley’s powerful messages of apologizing and forgiveness nicely complement Blanchard’s servant leadership section.

Leaders at all levels and professions will benefit from the credible wisdom in these pages. Keeping it on your shelf within arm’s reach—the author’s recommendation—allows for quick recall of the simple, yet powerful insights fueling your approach to your craft. And although you could take each insight week by week, I was so enthralled with the content that I consumed it in one sitting, because at roughly 150 pages, it is a highly consumable page turner!

Highly recommended!  

Chad Manske, Brigadier General (Retired), US Air Force

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