The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller


This week I finished The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller. I was interested to read this book as I recently read Mark Miller’s The Heat of Leadership and The Secret of Teams. I am also a big fan of Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Manager

This a fantastic business fable involving a struggling leader Debbie Brewster discovering some timeless leadership principles through the mentorship from Company President Jeff Brown.

The book starts with the Iceberg Analogy for Leadership. Leadership needs both skills and characters. Skills are like the top of the iceberg that we can see. It’s above the water, its the doing part. But a larger portion of leadership remains under the water, that we don’t see. It’s the being part that embodies values, character, beliefs, trusted relationships. To remember it clearly I drew the below picture some items of which are not directly from the book but rather my own understanding.

The book then dives deep into the SERVE Model for Leading. It describes that regardless of their formal title or position, people who want to be great leaders must embrace an attitude of service to others. The acronym is broken down into the following –

  • S – See the Future. Create a compelling vision. 
    • A quote from the book – “Leadership is about taking people from one place to another. One of a leader’s top priorities must be to assure that the team knows where you are headed“.
  • E – Engage and Develop Others. Build the right team, engage and empower them to do their best work.
    • A quote from the book – “You want to do more than enlist their hands – you want to engage their heads and hearts also“. 
  • R – Reinvent Continuously. Look for constant improvements, new ways of doing work.
    • A quote from the book – “Great leaders…are always interested in ways to enhance their own knowledge and skills. The very best leaders are learners“.
  • V – Value Results and Relationships. Find the proper balance between driving results and building working relationships.
    • A quote from the book – “The way to maximize your results as a leader is to have high expectations for both results and relationships“.
  • E – Embody the Values. Leaders must walk the talk, show integrity.
    • A quote from the book – “The best teachers are always those who know they haven’t got it figured out“.

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