Dr Ken Blanchard, the best-selling business writer and management guru has told business leaders meeting in London that making as much money as possible should not be their only objective. Speaking at the European Customer Management World conference he also challenged stock market investors to stick with businesses for the long term rather than looking to make a quick buck, and revealed he prays for figures such as Martha Stewart and Donald Trump because “business isn’t just about the next conquest, but about having a good heart and being generous with your time and your talents.”

Dr Blanchard, best known as co-author of the 13 million bestseller The One Minute Manager and founder of international training consultancy The Ken Blanchard Companies, told his audience of 400 plus business managers: “we each have a choice to be a self-serving or a servant leader. Too many leaders today, in business, in government, in our churches or our schools think leadership is all about them. They seem to think their full time job is about making others feel unimportant rather than how they can make a difference in the lives of the people they lead.”

Dr Blanchard claimed it is this attitude that lies at the root of poor customer service; this and the failure of business leaders to realise that money is only a by-product of business. “Profits are the applause you get for taking care of your customers and making a motivating environment for your people,” he said. “Businesses shouldn’t just aim to make money. Instead they should aim for the ‘triple bottom line’, to be the provider of choice and the employer of choice as well as the investment of choice.”

Dr Blanchard also warned against failing staff by not giving them a sufficient vision of how they can make a difference to customers, saying: “I was working with a big bank recently and I thanked them for sending me their mission statement because it helped me get off to sleep at night. It wouldn’t have motivated a fly.” 

Talking of the stock market, he railed at the injustice of a system that saw a company with twenty-seven years of growth loose 70% of their worth overnight as the result of a difficult merger. “At what point do you tell investors to get a life and invest for the longer term?” he asked. “The Ken Blanchard Companies lost $1.5 million the month of 9/11 but did we panic and lay people off? No. My wife and I took a 25% pay cut, as did other senior people and asked our employees to cut back on their expenses. I promised them, if we get through this, we’ll have a big party in Hawaii. And we did, two years ago.”

Almost all problems in business start and end with leadership, said Blanchard, arguing the best leaders work trust their front line staff to use their brains independently of rules and regulations so they can do their best work. “Good leadership is love,” he concluded. “It’s about loving your customers, your people your mission and your values and about loving yourself enough to get out of the way so others can be magnificent.”

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