Book Notes

Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager

Book cover for Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager
Ken Blanchard, Susan Fowler, and Laurence Hawkins

This is one of the first books I read in the lead­er­ship or per­son­al growth cat­e­go­ry. It was a great intro to that type of learn­ing for me. For some, the teach­ing-by-para­ble approach may feel cheesy. I don’t mind it, though, so I enjoyed the book. That said, the con­cepts and lessons of this book are very easy and quick to con­sume and under­stand. That is to say, the sto­ry isn’t a neces­si­ty to con­sid­er the ideas. It’s one of the short­est books you’ll find on the top­ic, though. So I think it’s still worth the read even if para­bles aren’t real­ly your thing.

There are three main things you’ll get from this book: con­sid­er­ing and chal­leng­ing assumed con­straints, lear­ing about what the authors call points of pow­er,” and the impor­tance of being proac­tive. Addi­tion­al­ly, the authors talk about how to use these things to take ini­tia­tive when you’re not offi­cial­ly in charge.

This book is an easy rec­om­men­da­tion for me. I believe every­one has some­thing they can either learn or be remind­ed of in this short book. Ken Blanchard’s books are almost always short reads with a focus on a few key con­cepts. I’ve learned a lot from him and think you can too.

Note that I read the 2005 edi­tion of this book. There’s an updat­ed and revised ver­sion I’ll even­tu­al­ly read which may lead to me updat­ing my notes below.


The truth is that most boss­es today can no longer play the tra­di­tion­al role of telling peo­ple what, when, and how to do things. Man­agers just don’t have time, and in many cas­es the peo­ple know more about the work than they do.”

Ch 1.

Empow­er­ment is some­thing some­one gives you. Self lead­er­ship is what you do to make it work.”

Ch 2.

There’s a sim­ple sur­vey that might be cool to give to a team you might work on. Check out the book for the details.

Ulti­mate­ly, it’s in your own best inter­est to accept respon­si­bil­i­ty for get­ting what you need to suc­ceed in the workplace.”

Ch 3.

Ele­phant think­ing (http://​www​.learninga​sy​lum​.co​.uk/​t​a​g​/​e​l​e​p​h​a​n​t​-​t​h​i​n​king/) was defined and used mul­ti­ple times. It’s a pow­er­ful con­cept that I’ve ref­er­enced in a num­ber of con­ver­sa­tions over the years. This idea leads to what the authors label as Assumed Constraints.

An assumed con­straint is a belief you have, based on past expe­ri­ence, that lim­its your cur­rent and future experiences.”

Ch 5.

You act­ed as though you had com­pe­tence when, in fact, you didn’t.”

Incom­pe­tence by itself isn’t a bad thing. 

Com­pe­tence means you have the knowl­edge and skill to accom­plish the goal or do the skill in ques­tion. If you’ve nev­er done the trick before, then you can’t pos­si­bly have knowl­edge or skill.

Com­mit­ment is mea­sured by your moti­va­tion and con­fi­dence about the goal.

The devel­op­ment con­tin­u­um” is intro­duced here. It’s a con­cept that Blan­chard includes in many of his books. If you haven’t seen it before, there’s a good overview on this blog post.

When your com­pe­tence is low, you need direc­tion; when your com­mit­ment is low, you need support. 

Ch 6.

It’s quite pos­si­ble to regress in cer­tain areas. Regard­less of where you are in the con­tin­u­um, you can go back­wards and have to work back up to where you were.

Ch 8.

The beau­ty of devel­op­ing a self leader is that it ulti­mate­ly frees man­agers to focus their atten­tion where it’s most needed.”

Self Lead­ers:

  1. Chal­lenge assumed constraints
  2. Cel­e­brate their points of power
  3. And col­lab­o­rate for success

All excerpts © 2005 by Blanchard Family Partnership, Susan Fowler, and Laurie Hawkins

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