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    A continuing series: As we seek a light unto our daily path, where is… God on The Way? Ken Blanchard: It’s about ‘Leading Like Jesus’ – Proverbs 10:29

    Ken Blanchard is a nice guy, someone you can have a conversation with (over coffee, juice and egg white omelets, for example) and come away feeling like you’ve been chatting with an old friend.

    Not that warmth and friendliness should surprise anyone who knows anything about Blanchard. In fact, they characterize the best selling, nationally recognized business, management and leadership as “guru.” His The One Minute Manager has sold 10 million copies worlwide – some 10,000 monthly still – and his workplace philosophy of respect, praise and communication has gone a very long way toward making cooperation and teamwork vital tools to success for companies on every level.

    Ken Blanchard is more than a nice guy, though. He is something of a revolutionary. He believes that Leading Like Jesus can make businesses more successful by building relationships based on trust and respect, maintain integrity and excellence in programs and services, practicing stewardship and honoring God in everything.

    All this from a guy with thinning hair, rather than a counterculture ‘do,’ fashionable suits instead of fatigues, and a clean-shaven, bright, smiling face. But there’s more. Blanchard has his sights set on cooperation between churches, as well. My goodness, give the man a Cuban and call him Che!

    How could this be?

    “I got interested in the Lord when The One Minute Manager came out. That was so ridiculously successful — we were on the Today Show on Labor Day and one week later it went on the New York Times bestseller list — never moved for three years. In fact, this month it’s No. 14 on the Business Week bestseller list, 22 years after it came out.

    “My good friend from college, Phil Hodges, came down to see me and we walked on the beach and he said to me: ‘Why did this thing work out so well?’ I said, ‘I think God some how is involved with it, because it was too ridiculous for me to take credit for the book — two unknown guys from California.’”

    Blanchard was no stranger to God. His parents had even named him after the minister of their church, but his early associations were typical of many.

    “I went to Sunday school but no one got me all that excited. In junior high, I switched to the Methodist church because they had a better basketball team. And then I went off to Cornell in upstate New York and they could not have cared less about your religious and spiritual growth, so I really drifted away.”

    It was the caring and interest of friends that finally led Blanchard to accept Christ in the mid-80s.

    “The minute I opened myself up, the Lord started sending all kinds of people into my life. I got a call – would I be interested in writing a book with Norman Vincent Peale? I said, is he still alive? My parents had gone to his church before I was born. He was 86 when I met him. I had lunch with Norman and Ruth, and we ended up writing a book called The Power of Ethical Management together. We spent a couple of weekends with them, and he said ‘Ken, the Lord has always had you on his team, you just haven’t suited up yet.’ In fact, I just rewrote my book about my spiritual journey. The new title is It Takes Less Than One Minute To Suit Up For The Lord.

    Today, Blanchard excitedly relates how he follows the A-C-T-S prayer model, and approaches the day like a child.

    “You know how little kids are so anxious, they say ‘Mommy, daddy, where are we going to go?’ – so I say, ‘Okay, Daddy where are we going today!?’”

    It is focus on implementation, however that occupies Blanchard on a business level.

    “I was on Hour of Power with Dr. Robert Schuller in 1984 after the release of The One Minute Manager. He said, ‘What a great book, Ken. You know who was the greatest one-minute manager of all time?’ He said, Jesus of Nazareth, and that was the first time I’d ever thought of thinking about Jesus as a leader. I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘Well, your first secret is one-minute goal setting and I don’t know a guy that’s clearer on goals.’ Then he said you and Tom Peters didn’t invent management by wandering around, he said Jesus did. ‘He wandered from one little village to another village. If anybody showed any interest, he’d praise them, heal them. Isn’t that your second secret, one minute praising?’ And then he said, ‘If people stepped out of line, he wasn’t afraid to reprimand them, redirect them. He threw the moneylenders out of the temple and told Peter get behind me Satan, and your third secret is the one-minute reprimand.

    “So that really got me started to think about Jesus as a leader. And then when I turned my life over to the Lord, about four years later, and started to read the Bible, I found everything I’ve ever taught was done by Jesus.”

    Blanchard delivers the same message no matter which audience he is addressing – a national business and leadership forum, the class he teaches at Cornell University with his wife Margie, or the Benedictine monks, for whom he is developing training that will be used within the Catholic Church.

    And what about other churches?

    “I’ll tell you what my big goal is right now. God gave me a wonderful analogy. Take San Diego. We have almost 1,500 churches, and suppose we were going to run a business in San Diego — we’re going to sell the same product — we’ve got 1,500 franchises, but none of them talk to each other, none of them will help each other, and they’re all competing and they’re selling the same product. Can you think of anything ‘stupider’ than that?

    “Well, what I want to try to do is help raise Jesus up so He can get over the walls.”

    And how do audiences respond to Blanchard’s message?

    “I always get the highest ratings because I don’t force it on people, but I talk how leadership has to be about love. You’ve got to love your mission. You’ve got to love your customers. You’ve got to love your people. You’ve got to love yourself to get out of the way so other people can be magnificent.”

    Feet washing anyone?

    “When I look at it, people say how can you serve and lead at the same time? What they don’t understand is the two parts of leadership — the vision and direction apart, and then implementation.

    “My mission statement is ‘to be a loving teacher and example of simple truths.’ I think that life is a whole tapestry, and I can see God’s hand in my life much more easily going backwards than forwards. My father was a tremendous influence because he had a different philosophy about leadership. When I won class president of the 7th grade – I came home, I was all excited and he said ‘Ken, now that you’ve won the presidency don’t ever use your position — great leaders are liked and respected, that’s why people follow them. Not because they have power.’”

    The servant as leader, and a nice guy, too. Revolutionary enough to change the world, eh?


    Ken Blanchard’s office is in Escondido. He can be reached at his web site, To find out more on Leading Like Jesus, visit www.leadlike

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