Lead with LUV. A Different Way to Create Real Success – a book review

Ken Blanchard's third book in the Leading at a Higher Level series was released in the UK in the last week of January 2011. Co-authored with Colleen Barrett, ex-President of Southwest Airlines (SWA), the book is a conversation between Ken and Colleen telling the leadership story behind SWA's success.

The SWA story is a mainstay of most Business School curricula and has been much studied by MBA students as the airline industry's shining performer since it opened for customer service in 1971. Whilst Blanchard does not have such a following in the world of academia he is much read by busy leaders and his Situational Leadership II model is pragmatic and easy to apply in those busy working lives.

Colleen Barrett began her career as an Executive Secretary to Herb Kelleher, founder of SWA. When asked why he chose Colleen to succeed him as president, he said "Because she knows how to love people to success". Don't be fooled into thinking that leading with love is being soft! SWA focuses Servant Leadership energy on achieving the Triple Bottom Line: being the employer of choice, the provider of choice and the investment of choice. It seems the difference between SWA and many other organisations who espouse the same values is that SWA actually live them throughout the organisation. Anyone who doesn't fit with the company culture is "shared with the competition"!

Ken Blanchard's simplifications of the complex dynamics of leadership into memorable lessons that can be easily applied litter the pages. His definition of Servant Leadership as having the two elements of: Strategic Leadership and Operational Leadership brings both the "what" (vision/direction) and the "how" (implementation) sharply into focus with equal emphasis. Many leaders de-prioritise the importance of operational excellence, seeing implementation as the task of managers. This is a mistake as it is the organisation's people who are the implementers and the customers who are directly impacted – two thirds of their bottom line!

Building on the key leadership traits identified by Jim Collins (author of Good to Great) of will and humility, one of the challenges Ken and Colleen set for leaders is to question whether they are Self-Serving Leaders or Servant Leaders. "The true test of a Servant Leader is this: Do those around the Servant Leader become wiser, freer, more autonomous, healthier and better able themselves to become Servant Leaders?"

Are you a Servant Leader or are you a self-serving leader? The key to leading with love is to lead to serve and help others, and then financial success will be a by-product. To paraphrase Ken Blanchard – read the book with an attitude of discovery and you will realise that leading with love is the only way to get human satisfaction and great results at the same time.

Why not order the book today, we highly recommend it. Happy reading!

30th January 2011

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