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The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do Paperback – January 1, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Debbie, the heroine of this insipid business novella, is an archetypal customer relations executive who fails to wring improved performance from her micro-managed and dispirited subordinates. CEO Jeff takes her under his wing to impart the wisdom of "servant leadership" as exemplified by such figures as Jimmy Carter, Spartacus and, most of all, Jesus of Nazareth. Under his mentor, Debbie realizes that a leader’s role is to inspire and empower underlings both in the workplace and in their personal lives. She learns to delegate so that she can focus on "vision" and "values." She commits herself to a project of "Reinventing Continuously" and she comes to understand that, since people are essences, not constructs, it’s better to leverage employees’ strengths rather than trying to fix their shortcomings; hiring decisions are therefore all-important and should involve no less than four exhaustive interviews. Armed with these principles, Debbie makes a spectacular new hire, gets her team to come up with the slogan "From Worst to First" and enlists them in continuous improvement of the work process. Soon performance skyrockets (exactly how remains somewhat mysterious), garnering Debbie a standing ovation and promotion to head of Leadership Development. Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, and Miller, an executive at the Chick-fil-A fast food chain, construct a rickety fictional matrix to support their high-minded but rather familiar leadership nostrums. Written in stilted business-school lingo ("‘Hi Deb! Looks like you’re managing by walking around today!’"), the narrative and dialogue elements come off as awkward filler that only accentuates the staleness of the truisms on offer.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

In The Secret, Debbie, a struggling leader finds herself about to lose her job due to poor performance. In a desperate attempt to save her career, she enrolls in a new mentoring program offered by her company. Much to her surprise, Debbie finds her mentor is the president of the company (Jeff Brown).

Debbie decides that all she needs is the answer to one question, "What is the secret of great leaders?" She is convinced that if Jeff will tell her, she can apply the secret in her leadership.

Over the next 18 months Jeff explains to Debbie that the secret is rooted in an attitude. He tells her that she must be willing to become a serving leader rather than a self-serving leader. The secret is that all great leaders serve.

After Debbie learns the secret she still doesn’t know what to do next. Jeff explains that great leaders serve in at least five ways. They…

• See and shape the future
• Engage and develop others
• Reinvent continuously
• Value results and relationships
• Embody the values

The story unfolds as Debbie learns and applies each of these imperatives with her team. As a result, Debbie’s team goes from worst to first. They become the highest performing team within the company.

In the end, Debbie understood that all the changes and improvements were the result of the choices she made as a leader. She realized that to SERVE is a choice. Debbie decided once and for all, she would no longer be a self-serving leader, she would be a serving leader! --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 125 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (January 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576754030
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576754030
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #305,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the story of Debbie, a struggling and a failing leader, who learns the lessons of management from her Boss. Miserable with her poor performance, the character of Ken's Book, joins the Mentor Program offered by her company and incidentally, Jeff, the president of the company happens to be the trainer. She thoroughly undergoes the training sessions where she realise her mistakes. She is taught to be a 'Serving Leader' rathar than a 'self-serving Leader'. She learns the secrets of success with the five steps :
* Seeing and shaping the future
* Engaging and developing others
* Continuously Reinvent
* Value results and relationships
* Embody the values
Debbie learns whatever is needed to be a good leader, analyze her progress with examples, excercises and tips. In process with Debbie's example, Ken Blanchard has made successful attempt to teach the Leadership Lessons to all successful as well as troubled and failed Leaders. The Book provides a guide to solve problems that seem complex and make it easier with the concepts clear - A choice to Serve. Not always I guess, because while Serving too without being self-served, the Leader becomes a struggler if the Company policies and the Boss Attitude and vision is not focused. Sometimes wavelengths do not meet. However, based on the author's experience and drawn from examples of best leaders, this book gives an insight to improve upon one's own abilities and in serving others, tackle the situations with ease without struggling lamely. Ken Blanchard's experience speaks in volumes. A good Pick.
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By A Customer on June 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I must admit that I don't usually purchase or enjoy very many "leadership" books, but this one is truly different. This book is written in a quick-read style and is very easy to understand. The principles are easy to remember and hard to apply, but have had a transformational impact on my life. I believe readers will find that if they have the guts and discipline to consistently think about ways to apply these principles, they will see a major shift in how people respond to them in their family life, business life, or church life. I have already shared my copy of the book with others, and they have each pointed out specific aspects of the book that they say completely changed their way of looking at the world.
I think this book makes great gifts for people you work with or family members. Don't be surprised if some folks don't "get it"...it's the people that do "get it" that are going to find amazing ways to apply these principles and impact the lives of others!
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Format: Hardcover
"The Secret" is a message about leadership woven into a story of a leader struggling with her team's performance. When she applies for the Company mentor program, she is paired with the Company President, who imparts some simple, but powerful wisdom about what great leaders do.

There are hundreds of good books on leadership, but some of the best are those which take advantage of application opportunity and relay the concepts within a storyline that demonstrates how they are applied. This book does a credible job of that, although the story is at times a bit contrived.

The essential message is the SERVE model of leadership. The model is simple, yet effective. Buy the book and find out what the "secret" of great leadership is. I recommend this book for anyone who leads people or coaches those who do.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a simple, easy to use book on learning to be a leader. Although a little simplistic in it's storyline, the SERVE model is easy to understand and put into practice. I have met Mark Miller and can say he practices what he writes about in the book. And if you look at the success of Chik-fil-A®, you would want to know their secret!
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By A Customer on May 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book really inspired me. I always thought great leaders were born, not made. This book demonstrates that by following five enlightened principles, anyone can become a positive influence in the home, workplace, community or world, and thus become a leader. The Secret has changed the way I interact with others for the better.
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By A Customer on May 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I found the book easy to read and adaptable for any leadership situation. The concepts were broad enough to use in any arena, yet specific enough that you know the goals you need to achieve. It was nice not needing a degree in business or management to understand the philosophy behind this book. Kudos to the authors!!
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Format: Hardcover
Leadership is a topic that everyone talks about, but it is often hard to figure out how to be a great leader or teach others to be one. This book is wonderful in that it tells in simple language, in a story format, what anyone needs to do to be a great leader. I am going to give it to all the managers in my department.
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Format: Hardcover
In this second edition of a book first published in 2004, Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller make skillful use of the business narrative when sharing what they have learned about what "great leaders know and do." However, in fact, their focus is on an aspiring, struggling executive, Debbie Brewster, who confides, "I'm holding on for dear life and might lose my job." Her motivations remind us of Abraham Maslow's "hierarchy needs": first survival, then security, and eventually, perhaps, self-actualization. To date, her performance as a team leader has been poor. She knows she needs help and finds it in a relationship with a mentor within her company, its president, Jeff Brown. Thus begins what becomes her journey of discovery of the "secret" to which the book's title refers, for both Debbie and the book's reader. The details are best revealed in context, within the narrative, as Debbie's performance as a team leader gradually - and predictably -- improves.

Does she become a great leader? No, at least not by the book's conclusion, but that is not Blanchard and Miller's ultimate objective. Rather, their purpose (in my opinion) is to examine a process by which almost any executive can become a more effective supervisor. Specifically, they focus on specific skills that include situation analysis, setting priorities, making decisions, getting associates engaged and in alignment, avoiding or removing barriers, and meanwhile demonstrating the values of what Robert Greenleaf once characterized as "the servant leader" in an essay published in 1970.

In a second essay, "The Institution as Servant," Greenleaf observes: "This is my thesis: caring for persons, the more able and the less able serving each other, is the rock upon which a good society is built.
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