Authors: Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller

Publisher: Berrett-Koehler, 2012

ISBN-13: 9781609943035, 144 pages


With millions of copies of his titles in print, including his bestseller, The One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard is one of the business world’s most popular authors. Corporate executive Mark Miller teamed up with Blanchard to create 2009’s The Secret. Their newest collaboration, Great Leaders Grow, is an instructive fable that explains why leaders must keep growing. Readable and easy to understand, this business novella presents a tidy, mainstream message about self-development. Blanchard and Miller discuss the requirements of “servant leadership” and encourage readers to expand their personal and professional understanding. getAbstract recommends this tale to the authors’ dedicated fans and to aspiring leaders seeking an accessible book as a bridge to something a little more challenging.

Leadership calling

Jeff Brown was an accomplished executive, a “servant leader” – one who leads as a way of serving others – in the finest sense of the term. He helped people in all walks of life and was enormously influential. Everyone who knew Jeff admired him. And though he was relatively young, lived and ate sensibly, and was in excellent physical shape, Jeff died of a heart attack. No one felt his loss more keenly than his only son, Blake, a young man soon to graduate from college with a degree in business administration and ambitions to land his first job. He could not forget the last words his father said to him: “You can be a leader.”

Blake never thought of himself as a potential leader, so his father’s words stayed with him because his dad never said anything lightly. Blake made a commitment to explore the meaning of leadership and how he might apply that meaning to his life.

Dear Debbie

Jeff Brown had mentored Debbie Brewster, and she told Blake to contact her if he ever needed help. Blake sought her out. “Your dad made such a difference in my life. . .It would be an honor to help you in any way I can,” Debbie said when she agreed to meet with Blake.

Blake was surprised to learn how much Debbie already knew about him and his life. She explained that Jeff had loved Blake so much that he spoke positively about his son to all his business associates. That devotion was one of the traits that made Jeff a great leader, Debbie explained.

“I’m confused,” admitted Blake. “I thought leadership was about leadership stuff.” Debbie laughed and recalled that Jeff had believed strongly in high-octane work teams that “always do life together.” Members of Jeff’s teams shared the most important details of their lives with each other. For Jeff, nothing had been more important than his son.

Blake was intrigued by Debbie’s leadership lesson. She told Blake that Jeff taught her nearly everything she knew about leadership. Before Jeff took her under his wing, the team she led was the worst performing unit in the company. Under Jeff’s tutelage, Debbie transformed her team into the company’s top producing group. Eventually, the firm promoted Debbie to director of leadership development and, later, to head of operations.

Me, a leader?

Blake listened politely as Debbie detailed her background. When she finished, he told her that he wasn’t as convinced as his dad was that he possessed leadership potential. At just 22, Blake had no idea how to lead anyone…

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