Book Review: Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust by Ken Blanchard & Randy Conley

February 22, 2022
Mike Stallard

Leaders often assume that the simple, essential leadership behaviors are being done when in fact many are not, a point Stanford professors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton make in their book, The Knowing-Doing Gap. Instead, too many leaders become mesmerized by more complex programs because they equate complexity with efficacy. Pfeffer and Sutton found common sense is uncommon in practice. They advocate that leaders should make certain they’re doing the simple essentials first.  

The value of Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley’s new book, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust, is that they’ve packaged essentials of leadership into an easy-to-read guide. Blanchard and Conley believe that servant leadership and trust go hand-in-hand. As Conley explains, “Servant leaders are distinguished by putting the needs of their followers ahead of their own. When team members believe their leader has their best interests at heart and is there to support them in achieving their goals, trust in their leader grows by leaps and bounds.”

The book is filled with leadership wisdom from two individuals I highly respect. If you are a reader of the Connection Culture Group monthly email newsletter, you may recognize Randy Conley’s name. A recognized expert on trust, he has been very generous to share articles with us that we include from time to time as an added resource for you. Blanchard and Conley’s book is consistent with our leadership philosophy.

Presented in a straight-forward manner, each of the 52 simple truths of leadership is accompanied by short commentary and actions you can take to apply the principle. The “making common sense common practice” suggestions include practices the Blanchard organization has honed over the years (e.g. Situational Leadership, Leadership Point of View).

Part One contains 26 simple truths organized into the following sections: The Essence of Servant Leadership, Secrets of the One Minute Manager, A Situational Approach to Servant Leadership, Create a Motivating Environment, Characteristics of Servant Leaders, and What Servant Leaders Need to Know. Part Two’s 26 simple truths are grouped in these sections: Trust in Leadership, Trust in Relationships, Characteristics of Trusted Leaders, Trust and Control, and Restoring Broken Trust. You can read them sequentially or go straight to a topic of interest.

Early on, Blanchard makes the important observation that you can’t fake being a servant leader. Essential leadership practices won’t work for long or have the desired effect if people discover that a leader cares more about personal power and glory than about serving the organization’s mission and its people. As such, this book will have the greatest impact on leaders who care about people and care about results.

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Michael Lee Stallard is a thought leader, speaker and leading expert on how human connection in workplace cultures affects the health and performance of individuals and organizations. In addition to Fired Up or Burned Out, he is the primary author of Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy and Understanding at Work.

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