Book review: The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams by Ken Blanchard

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The One Minute Manager Builds High Performing Teams is co-authored by Ken Blanchard, Donald Carew and Eunice Parisi-Carew. It is a valuable addition to the genre of self-help management books. The One Minute series of books by Ken Blanchard and his team of management gurus have become indispensible sources of scholarship. These books explain in jargon-free language the intricacies and nuances of various aspects of management. The book in discussion is typical of the series and offers valuable insights to both new and experienced managers. The book can be used for both study and reference. The rest of this essay will highlight the key contributions and interesting facets of the book while also pointing to deficiencies if any.
One of the points emphasized by the authors throughout the text is that people are the most important resources of a business organization. In this respect, teamwork assumes great importance and can make the difference between success and failure. It is implicit that it is the role of leadership to bring the best out of this key resource. The leader must be able to motivate, facilitate and also participate in the process of running a team. Only such a deep level of commitment

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will take the organization toward success. The authors underscore how problem-solving is a key characteristic that distinguishes the good from ordinary leaders. Paying attention to the short-comings of teams on a constant basis can be tough even for the most earnest of leaders. But they assert that it is this quality that will pay rich dividends in the long run.

Teamwork and team ethic being the central focus of the book demonstrate how overall productivity can only be achieved at the cost of relegating individual needs to the background. Improvement in quality and productivity parameters should be the constant focus of a manager and they must do their upmost to bring most variables under control. Managers can also foster an atmosphere of collective ownership of the project, so that team members do not feel detached and indifferent toward the final outcomes. Hence, creating this sense of ownership among team members is both the most challenging and most rewarding task for a manager.

The book is strewn with key insights – something that managers will do well to assimilate into their thought processes. For example, Blanchard and team assert that the internal dynamic of a team, in terms of its cohesion, cooperation and common objectives, can go a long way in determining success. In other words, there is a synergistic relationship between the intangible qualities that make up team dynamics and the final outcome. To this extent, the internal dynamics of a team contribute much more than what is outwardly calculable. At the same time, the method employed by a manager to build a strong team culture is not given to rigid formulas. Concepts such as inspirational or charismatic leadership, though not scientific or systematic, can have the final say in terms of the effect of leadership on the team. It is for these sorts of nuanced explications of what makes successful teams that Blanchard and his co-authors will have to be most lauded.

The One Minute Manager Builds High Performance Teams talks about the notion of common vision. A vision statement – conceived in a moment of inspiration but later made into a formal document – is vital to every business organization. The vision statement serves as a navigating compass for the organization, as it sets about achieving various business goals. Ideally, the vision statement should be born out of a shared set of values between all stakeholders in the company. This includes the top management, employees, shareholders and the board of directors. According to Blanchard and co-authors, the vision statement should also reflect a fair and open relationship with vendors and suppliers.

The book discusses the importance of adaptability to successful leadership. This is especially relevant in the cross-cultural and cross-geographical business environment of the era of globalization. The effectiveness of the leader is boosted by his/her ability to change leadership style according to the requirements of the group. For example, a particular stage of development of the group might require a certain leadership mindset. Equally important is the ability of the leader to empower those under his/her charge. This is easier said than done, for it is easy for leaders to feel insecure about their authority and position. It takes a courageous and large-hearted leader to motivate other to express themselves to their full potential. Such an attitude is a strong statement of team ethic on part of the leader. The leader is implicitly saying that the broader interests of the team and the organization are more important than his claim to a certain managerial perch.

The neat categorization of chapters and sub-chapters is another positive feature of the book. The chapters can be read as stand-alone essays on their own. Related contextual content is cross referenced, making navigation within the book quite easy. The naming of the chapters is systematic and concise. For example, under the main topic Understanding Group Dynamics, sub-topics, comprised of four stages, are laid out. These are, namely, Orientation, Dissatisfaction, Production and Integration. The other chapters in the book include Four Leadership Styles, Task and Maintenance Functions, Teaching Someone Else, Using the Concepts, etc. It is quite evident that the authors have done their utmost in keeping esoteric language to a minimum, making the book accessible to beginners and apprentices.

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