Servant Leadership, Trust, and Compassion with Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley [Podcast]

Posted on June 8, 2022 by Nate Regier / 0 comments
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Dr. Nathan Regier, your host, welcomes Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley coauthors of Simple Truth of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust.

Randy Conley is the Vice President of Client Services and Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies. Randy authors the Leading with Trust blog and is a contributing author of the book Trust Inc.: Strategies for Building Your Company’s Most Valuable Asset and works globally to help organizations build trust.

Ken Blanchard is one of the most influential leadership experts in the world, he’s co-authored more than 65 books including the iconic One Minute Manager. He is the co-founder and Chief Spiritual Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies®, an international management training and consulting firm.

In today’s episode, Nate, Ken, and Randy are exploring the intersection between servant leadership, trust, and compassion by unpacking some of the simple truths included in their book.

Servant Leadership, Trust, and Compassion Highlights

  • The key to developing people is to catch them doing things right. Ken believes deeply that this is the most important and often overlooked truth. Leaders so often succumb to the false belief that their job is to find fault and point out mistakes. But common sense tells us that people will do more of the things you pay attention to.
  • There is no trust without us. Trust is an interpersonal dynamic between two people. We might generalize trust to an organization or a team or a brand, but that’s still one-sided. All trust originates in the interactions between people.
  • Forgiveness is letting go of our hope for a better past. We often hold on to unforgiveness because we think it’s hurting the other person. “Oh, we’re sticking it to him.” But as Randy jokingly explained, “While we are harboring our resentment, that other person is probably off living their best life.” Forgiving others isn’t about letting others off the hook. It’s actually a very self full act. It’s how we take care of ourselves. Stay healthy and keep our tank full so we can show up with compassion.


VOICEOVER: Are you tired of the negativity and drama? Are you trying to make a difference, only to be drained by people problems? The world needs more compassion, not just more civility and empathy, we need in the trenches compassion that struggles alongside people, instead of against them. We need a radically different way to engage for breakthrough results. And now here’s your host, Dr. Nate Regier.

NATE REGIER: We are really in for a treat today. I’m joined by Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley co-authors of a new book, Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust. I can’t think of two people whose work is more synonymous with compassion. Randy Conley is vice president of global professional services and trust practice leader for the Ken Blanchard Companies. He’s the co-author of Blanchard’s building trust training program and works globally to help organizations build trust. He is a founding member of the Alliance of Trustworthy Business Experts and was named a top 100 leadership speaker by And included in the American Management Association’s, leaders to watch list in 2015.

KEN BLANCHARD: I’d like to meet this guy. He sounds really powerful.

NATE REGIER: Pretty amazing. Well, let’s meet you, Ken. Ken Blanchard is one of the most influential leadership experts in the world. He’s co-author of more than 65 books, including the iconic One Minute Manager, with combined sales of over 23 million copies in 47 languages. In 2005, he was inducted into Amazon’s Hall of Fame as one of the top 25 bestselling authors of all time. He’s the co-founder of Ken Blanchard Companies, international training and consulting firm. I’m so delighted Ken and Randy are here to have a conversation about the intersection between servant leadership, trust and compassion. Welcome to both of you.

RANDY CONLEY: Thank you very much, Nate.

KEN BLANCHARD: It’s good to be with you.

NATE REGIER: Well, Ken, I’ve just so appreciated getting to know you over the years. And most recently we were together at a conference of learning providers and just appreciate your presence and just how you bring your full self into every interaction, love your body of work. And also I feel connected to your leadership philosophy. And Randy, what a treat to have you here. I’m getting to know you better now. And trust is such an important topic, especially for leaders these days. So compassionate, accountability and leadership is my passion. And I believe there’s a lot of connection with servant leadership and trust. Reading your newest book, Simple Truths of Leadership really confirmed that for me. And so I’m really looking forward at exploring this further with you. But I want to start with a little bit of background about the two of you in this journey. Would you share a little bit about where you are at in your journey each of you today and why this book is so important?

KEN BLANCHARD: Well, I’m just celebrating the 61st anniversary of my 21st birthday. So I’m really excited about the future. I’m refiring not retiring. And so this was a chance to really bring together all of the things that we’ve been teaching over the last 40 years of our company, because I’ve really gotten into servant leadership and all, and it’s really obvious as Randy and I talked that people who are great servant leaders build trust and trust and servant leadership go hand in hand. And so we started saying, “Well, how do want to do this?” And we started thinking about originally the book was called duh, why isn’t common sense, common practice? And think about key concepts in both servant leadership and trust. And then it became natural to break it in two parts and then very unusual to pick 52 is the number.

NATE REGIER: Well you definitely got the common sense part on the title. You have a sub subtitle that got your common sense phrase in there.

RANDY CONLEY: That’s right. And as Ken and I were talking about this, both of us believe really from the core of who we are, that leadership is an inside out process. You’ve got to get it right on the inside first, your values, your beliefs, why do you want to be a leader? Are you a serving leader or a self-serving leader? And once you can get clear on that, then it really unlocks the door to how you can grow as a leader and the positive influence you can have on others. And all a person has to do is look at the headlines today and see that we are in desperate need of a new model of leadership. We need more compassionate leaders. We need more leaders who are serving, who put the needs and interest of their followers ahead of their own. And so this is our little attempt, our humble attempt at making a dent in the universe, to inspire more serving leaders who are trusted servant leaders that bring their whole selves to work and lead in a very compassionate and serving way.

NATE REGIER: Oh, fantastic. Yes. I’ve been watching the headlines and it’s depressing and the need for this kinds of leadership is so important. So this is really collaborative effort. As you mentioned, you work together. And well, one of you share a little bit about how the book is structured beyond the 52, that’s a special number, but how did you structure this book?

KEN BLANCHARD: Well, it’s really great. We are getting great feedback from people. Because on the left side page is a concept like the key to developing people is to catch them doing something right. Then the facing page talks about first of all, why aren’t people doing it? You ask people how they know whether they’re doing a good job. They say that “Nobody’s yelled at me lately. No news is good news.” And then you talk about it. And then the bottom of each of those opposing opposite pages, it says how to make common sense common practice. And so we have 26 of them on servant leadership and 26 on trust and people are saying, “This is fabulous,” because I can share one of these a week with each of my people. In fact, I got several presidents now who are every week sending out one of the simple truth. So with the dialogue page and saying, “Talk with your people, let’s talk with this thing.” And so it’s pretty exciting.

NATE REGIER: Well, that’s one of the things I really liked about the book is it’s so digestible and so accessible and people are consuming content bites these days, small, small bites. And for us in the learning and development profession, everyday we grieve those long, intense, wonderful, amazing training sessions we used to have, but I think it really represents some elegance in engineering that you’ve been able to put this together in some meaningful bite size tips that we can actually do something with.

RANDY CONLEY: Well, thank you really, yeah-

NATE REGIER: I really appreciate that.

RANDY CONLEY: That was our intent. And leadership is a complex field. There’s lots of moving parts and pieces. There’s thousands of books published every year on the topic, but we don’t have to over complicate it. We’ve found in our work that most of the time, it’s our own ego that gets in the way. We get in our own way and we over complicate leadership. And so we wanted to just say, “Hey folks, here are some simple truths that if you can focus on these and we give you some suggestions, some action steps on how to start applying it. It’s not the PhD dissertation on 52 simple truths, but it’s how to make common sense common practice.” So we wanted it to be a very digestible, really be a user manual for leaders that they can look at one concept a week and take some tangible steps to really make that come alive.

NATE REGIER: Well, let’s dive in. Yes. There’s a simple truth for every week. I wish we could just go through all of them, but you should buy the book. So I’d like to start with Ken the first half of the book or so is some of your truths about servant leadership and then the second half is about trust. And so I’d like to start Ken with a couple stuck out for me. Well, a lot of them did, but I want to talk about a couple of them. The first one is number five, which you just mentioned, which is the key to developing people is to catch them doing something right. This seems so common sense. And yet so many leaders seem to think that their job is to point out what’s not working and punish mistakes. So what’s the deal behind this simple truth.

KEN BLANCHARD: Well, it’s interesting, people ask me again, if we took way everything you’ve taught for the last 40 plus years, but one thing, what would you hold onto? And it’s this concept because of what you’re saying, it’s common sense, but not common practice. Because when most people see their boss coming, they don’t expect to be caught doing something right. They expect that they must have done something wrong. And so it’s such a powerful thing to wander around and first you need clear goals that you both agree upon and observable behaviors. But to say, gee, Randy, I was just noticing in this area, boy, we’re really hitting the numbers. And I just want to tell you how much I appreciate your efforts. And so glad about that. And it just blows people’s minds when you notice what they’re doing right. This applies not only in work, but have you caught your wife or your spouse doing something right. Or your kids doing something right.

NATE REGIER: Well, and I like the turn of phrase, catch them because as soon as you hear catch, it’s like, “Oh no, what did I do wrong?” So it’s that unexpected moment. One of the things about why you’ve ordered some of these is I read one and then I said, okay fine. So I can accept that. But are you trying to tell me, and here’s why the next one is so important. You said praise progress. And I know you’re huge on praise, Ken, but I’ve also heard leaders say, “If we praise people too much, they’re just going to get big heads and be complacent. And so we can’t praise them.” How do you address that?

KEN BLANCHARD: Well, I just think that’s a fallacy and praising progress means I’m paying attention to what you’re doing and because good performance is a journey, it’s not an announced destination. And if you praise people’s progress, then they appreciate that. And again, I don’t think people say, “Oh boy, I’m really a good deal in all that” kind of thing. But it just creates an environment that this is a positive environment. You can get caught doing things right here. And sure. And we also say, if you know somebody’s behavior’s not going in the direction they want, we rewrote the One Minute Manager. So the third secret is redirect rather than reprimand. Which is you say, Randy, I noticed in this area, it’s not going quite as well as we had hope, do you agree? And they always agree. And then you say, what can I do to help you get back on track?

RANDY CONLEY: Yeah. Well, Nate, this idea of praising, I’ll often ask groups when I’m speaking to them, “Raise your hand if you are sick and tired of all the praise you get from your boss.” Nobody ever raises their hand. So to leaders out there who are listening to this and are worried about, “Boy, if I dial up the praise are people going to get too complacent,” the answer’s no, don’t worry about that.

NATE REGIER: Yeah. Well, and that’s probably true for teachers, for parents, for coaches, anyone who is trying to inspire greater performance and effort, they always worry. “Well, they earned a 10, but I’m only going to give them a nine. So they don’t think they’ve arrived.” And you’re really turning this on its head. So thank you for that. Going to the next one. A couple of your simple truths Ken, relate to individualizing leadership. And I know you’ve written a lot about that. Our company’s really interested in how we individualize leadership for personality. Is that included in any of your work or what would your perspective be on that?

KEN BLANCHARD: Well, one of the simple truth is you need to use different strokes for different folks. But the follow up one goes right with it where you sometimes have to use different strokes for the same folks on different parts of their job. And what it really says is that you and your people ought to sit down at the beginning of the year and set some good goals and make sure they’re observable and measurable. And once that’s done, then you can really start to manage them in a way that makes sense. But part of that process in the beginning is after you’ve set goals to analyze what their development level is, how competent are they in this area and how committed they’re motivated?

KEN BLANCHARD: So if somebody’s got high competence and high commitment, you can delegate that area to them. But a lot of times we use one leadership style for all of our people or for an individual where they might be a self-directed achiever in one goal, but an enthusiastic beginner on the other and where they need direction and supervision. So it’s a matter of using different strokes for different folks, as well as different strokes for the same folks on different parts of their job. It’s all part of our SL2, which is our situational approach to effective leadership.

NATE REGIER: Yeah. And it all starts with actually, I think this was a quote from last week at our conference about how important it is. “Focus is less time being interesting and more time being interested.” Where we’re actually learning about where people are at so we can make those decisions.

KEN BLANCHARD: Yeah. I love that quote, that’s a rose, wonderful.

NATE REGIER: It actually impacted how I conducted myself at that conference. Before I’d opened my mouth, I would think, am I trying to be interesting or am I trying to be interested? And it really is a simple truth that can switch things. So much in our work, we speak a lot about the balance of service to others and what we call self fullness, self full is not the same as selfish. And it’s not the same as selfless. It’s really about filling our tank. And so we can show up with energy to serve others. What’s your view on that concept of being self full?

KEN BLANCHARD: Well, I think that what you’re trying to do is help everybody feel like they’re self full, that they really are on top of things. And they’re an important part of the team. And in the beginning, there’s some parts of their jobs they might need some help to get there. Now, the jobs they’re there, but a lot of people laughed and I got in trouble when I was a college professor, because the first day of class I always gave out the final examination and the faculty would say, “What are you doing?” I’d say, “I’m confused.” They’d say acted, so I thought we’re supposed to teach these student jobs, but don’t give them the questions in the final.

KEN BLANCHARD: And I’d say, “No, am I going to give them the questions in the final, what do you think I’m going to do all semester?” I’m going to teach them the answers. So at the end of the final exam, they get A, life’s about getting As not some stupid normal distribution curve. And some of you listeners, if you’re in an organization where you have to screw a certain percentage of your people, give me a call. I’ll talk to your president. I mean, how many people go out and hire losers? Won’t say our worst people last year. We now need to hire some new losers to fill a low slots. No. Why wouldn’t you want everybody to win?

RANDY CONLEY: You can tell that Ken doesn’t feel strongly about that at all Nate.

NATE REGIER: No, no, that was wonderful. Well, one of my favorites, number 22 in the book, one of my favorites and I don’t know how many times I’ve shared this recently is people who plan the battle, rarely battle the plan. And this is so consistent with how we define and understand compassion. Compassion comes from the Latin root meaning, suffer with, struggle with. So it’s really about the struggle is real. We’re all going to be struggling. The question is, are we struggling with people or against them? Are we talking about the same thing here?

KEN BLANCHARD: Yeah. I think we really are. And the leaders who have a problem think all the brains are in their office. So they can make the decisions and all. But the whole key to what Randy and I are teaching here is it’s focused on we, not me. That we’re going to do this together. And I bring some things to the party and you do. And one plus one is a lot greater than two.

NATE REGIER: Oh, wonderful. Well, Randy, can I ask you about some of yours?

RANDY CONLEY: Absolutely.

NATE REGIER: Are the ones that are in your half of the book about truth?

RANDY CONLEY: Absolutely.

NATE REGIER: So simple truth and trust. And I love you all jumping in. This is not just for you, but they’re kind of attributed to you. I know your experience in research prove that trust is fundamental leadership. It’s the first, most important thing. And so I want to get your take on something right up front and see if this aligns with anything. So we interview a lot of people about trust. I mean, it’s always front and center of the conversation. So we often ask people, “How do you define trust?”

NATE REGIER: And if we were to make a word cloud, our research has shown that it pretty much boils down into two questions. Some people want to know, “Am I safe with you?” But other people want to know, “Can I count on you?” One of them has to do with that psychological, emotional safety. The other one has to do with execution and be independable. And we found that people tend to prefer one over the other. And so they just live out that version. But in inadvertently, they’re not earning trust from a lot of people. And I know you have a model of trust. What’s your perspective on this?

RANDY CONLEY: Yeah, that is so interesting, Nate. And it’s one of the things I love about the field of trust. It is so vast, I mean, you look at the research on trust and there really are over 100 definitions used in the research literature about what trust is. And one of the exercises I like to do when I’m working with folks is to ask them to think of the word trust and then draw a picture that represents what trust means to them. And what do you guess happens? There’s a dozen different pictures. People are drawing things like wedding rings, or maybe a handshake or parent holding a child’s hand or maybe a checklist with checks in all the boxes. And I do that because it illustrates this fundamental truth about trust. Trust is based on perceptions, which are formed by the behaviors that we use.

And until teams or organizations can get a common definition of what trust is. They’re always going to be working at slightly different perspectives of what trust is. So we advocate using a language of trust that focuses on the four key elements that define trust. And when you look at the research on trust, there are four elements that tend to percolate to the top. One is your ability, are you competent in what you do? That’s A, the letter A. The next element of trust is believable. The letter B, do you act with integrity? The letter C stands for connected. Do you care about others in relationship? Are you benevolent? Do you put their interests ahead of your own? And then the D stands for dependable. Do you honor your commitments and follow through? So we lovingly call that the ABCDs of trust. That’s the language of trust. And if you can use behaviors that align with those four elements, you’ll be talking the trust language that everyone has. And so it’s really important to understand clearly what trust is, what it isn’t, make sure you’re all on the same page.

NATE REGIER: And this actually is, this ABC model. I know you’ve written more about it, but it’s described in number 28. That trust is a skill that can be learned and developed. And when I look at this list, I can see some of those relate to the question of, “Am I safe with you?” And some relate to M you know, “Can I count on you?”

RANDY CONLEY: Yeah. And those two dimensions that you’re talking about there, are often characterized and a lot of people look at trust as there’s a character component, which is that issue of safety. That would be the B and the C and our approach. Are you believable and connected? And then there’s the competence aspect of trust, which is, are you able and dependable? Are you good at what you do and follow through on what you say you’re going to do? So it’s this unique blend of both character and competence. Safety and expertise and dependability. That really form that hole when it comes to what trust looks like.

NATE REGIER: Fantastic. So I got a bone to pick with Maya Angelou, and I love her, love her quote, love what she’s about. And your number 36, you said you quote Maya, Angela’s famous quote, and I’ll just read it for everyone. “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” And it’s so true that people’s emotional experiences are so powerful and lasting, informative when it comes to trust.

Here’s what I don’t agree with though, in the quote, there’s a turn of phrase that says, “Made them feel.” And to me, this runs contrary to the belief that we are responsible for our feelings and our thoughts and our behavior. Nobody can make us feel, they can do horrible things, but how often do we say to each other, “Well, how did that make you feel? Or you made me angry, or that really triggered me.” And it’s like, we’re blaming other people for our feelings. Aren’t we sending a mixed message? And I know that’s not what she meant, but will you unpack this quote for us and maybe share with us the true intent.

RANDY CONLEY: Yeah. Yeah. Great point, Nate. And let me advise anyone listening to this, be careful if you say to your spouse, “Well, I’m not responsible for your feelings, I didn’t make you feel that way.” I’ve tried that with my wife before it doesn’t always go over very well. But I do agree with you Nate, on the principle that we are responsible for our feelings, we can choose how we react and feel about situations. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control what happens within us. And so I think that is an important distinction. And of course the principle we’re pulling out from that Maya Angelou quote is leaders need to remember, they have a tremendous impact on people. Our presence carries tremendous weight. And so I think one of the greatest questions leaders can ask themselves in terms of the success of their leadership is, “Is that person better off for my interaction with them? Did that person leave feeling better about themselves because of how I contributed to them?” And so that’s the point, the principle that we’re really getting at there.

NATE REGIER: Yeah. I love that. And it’s so true. And I know that she, Maya Angelou said some other amazing things that also reinforce what you’re saying. I’d like to jump ahead to this issue of responsibility. Number 50 says, and I love this one again, apologizing is not necessarily an admission of guilt, but an admission of responsibility. And this is so powerful because in our culture of blame, covering your backside, quickly call your lawyers, never admit that you made a mistake. Will you unpack the common sense behind this for us?

RANDY CONLEY: The common sense is that leaders should ask themselves, “What do I value more, being right or maintaining the relationship?” And so when you’re involved in a conflict where perhaps you are not to blame, or you didn’t fully cause the incident or whatever it may be, you have a choice to make. Do you want to value the relationship and make it as healthy and successful as it can be? Or do you want to value being right. And fold your arms and say, “Well, I’m not apologizing. I’m not admitting anything in this. Because I didn’t do anything.”

Well, I think the higher road is to say, “You know what? I value this relationship.” So I will apologize even if it’s just saying, “Hey, Nate, I’m sorry that I let the situation get to this point without us addressing it.” You’re just taking some ownership over the relationship and not really focusing on who’s right, who’s wrong. But owning your part. And you’re right. If you want to see a master class in how not to apologize, just look at any of the public figures that tend to distance themselves from their actions or shift blame, or make excuses, real, certain leaders own up [crosstalk 00:26:44].

KEN BLANCHARD: It gets down to we mentioned it a little bit earlier, gets down to ego. And one of the things we’ve done is we’ve created a 12 step ego’s anonymous program because we think it’s the biggest addiction in the world. Because when your ego gets in the way, either with false pride, where you have a more than philosophy, you’re better than, or fear or self doubt when you have a less than. Your focus completely on yourself. And the key to overcome those, particularly false pride is humility. And a lot of people think that’s a weakness. And I love the quote that gets attributed to me and Rick Warren and C. S. Lewis and all, but it’s just the truth is that people with humility don’t think less of themselves, they just think about themselves less. And a really great leader feels good about themselves enough, that they want to involve people. That they want to reach out to them. It’s not all about them.

NATE REGIER: Yeah. Well, Randy, when this goes live, we may have a whole new slew of things going on in the media. But as of today, the big thing in the media is the whole Will Smith incident at the Academy Awards. And you wrote a fabulous analysis of his apology through your lens. And it actually inspired me to write a post about how his process and his apologies relate to compassion. So I think there’s a lot of examples out there about how we deal with those moments and how we deal with our ego. And I want to end with one there’s so many we could talk about, but two more, and then we’ll land this plane. Randy, there’s one number 40 says, “There’s nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals.” And there’s a lot of equal and unequal language in there, but I think it is pretty powerful. Will you explain this to us?

RANDY CONLEY: Yeah. That quote is often attributed to Aristotle and it’s getting at the idea that you need to treat people individually based on their circumstances, you need to treat people equitably and ethically. Those are two key words, equitably in terms of what they’re being given, what they’re allowed to do, and ethically doing things according to the law, what’s right. It is not, let me be very clear. That quote is not an endorsement of discriminating against people and treating people unequally. There are certain rules, laws, principles that apply to everyone. But it’s the idea of you need to look at each person and their circumstances and in a leadership context, take that into account and how you’re dealing with them. I think too many leaders fall prey to the idea of, “You know, what, I’m just going to broad brush everyone with the same treatment.” Here’s the rule. It applies to everyone because frankly that’s the easiest solution. You don’t want to have to deal with people’s individual circumstances. You just say, “Nope, here’s the rule for everyone.”

NATE REGIER: Yeah, it’s the lowest common denominator, really.

RANDY CONLEY: Lowest common denominator. And it actually creates more unfairness, more feelings of bitterness and resentment because people are devalued. They’re like, “Well, my deal’s a little bit different than Nate’s, are a little bit different than Ken.” Can’t we take that into account? So that’s what we’re getting out there.

KEN BLANCHARD: Well, and Nate, one of the important things with all of this is to be upfront with your people. Don’t use these theories on people, use it with them. And so when you say to them, “Gee, I want to really create an environment where we get a chance to be honest with each other and to build on our strengths and help each other get better. And so don’t be surprised if we bring stuff up that you weren’t clear, we aren’t going to treat everybody the same way because you all have different needs and different capabilities.” And make sure they understand that.

NATE REGIER: I think this is so important when people are in distress, focus so much on their ego, that they’re crying foul on fairness because they look over here and I’m not getting what they’re getting, or I’m reminded of a story with my… I had three daughters and trying to get your kids to bed is a challenge. It’s art form. And I had two daughters of very different personalities. One was all a sucker for the routine. I mean, you start the routine and she already starts yawning, but the other one would just escalate, escalate, escalate. And I realized that one of them would love the routine. The other one actually wanted to tussle and play and get wild before bedtime. And she would literally just fall asleep in my arms with a sweaty brown hair stuck to her head.

And I remember my other daughter said, “That’s not fair. You always play with Asha before bedtime. Why don’t you play with me?” And I said, “Okay, tomorrow night we play.” And the next day she said, “It’s fine, dad. I don’t need that. I was up until like 2:00 AM. I couldn’t get to sleep.” And so it was kind of like fairness is one thing, but I think justice is really the higher calling. And I wonder if that’s really what you’re talking about here.

RANDY CONLEY: Yes, yes. Great point there, Nate.

NATE REGIER: Ugh. Well, I want to leave with one here and then ask you both for some final thoughts. I really love number 52. I think it should be the first one and the last one. Is that forgiveness is letting go of all hope for a better past. And I have to admit when I first read this, I got a lump in my throat. That’s a tough reality to swallow. On the surface it seems depressing, but I have a feeling there’s a lot of hope in here. Will you unpack it for us?

RANDY CONLEY: Yeah. And we very intentionally ended the book with that one because the common sense that is not common practice in this regard is we often hold on to unforgiveness because we think it’s depriving the other person of something they really need. Like that’s our way to get back at someone who has wronged us, who has eroded our trust or done something to harm us. If we don’t forgive them, then that’s getting them back.

NATE REGIER: We can stick it to them.

RANDY CONLEY: We can stick it to them. Right?


RANDY CONLEY: The reality is, that person’s off living their best life. You’re the only one that’s suffering because you’re choosing to not forgive. And so when you can reconcile that within yourself, that forgiving others is actually a very self full act. I love that term, Nate self full that’s a way of filling your own bucket. That’s a way of forgiving yourself, giving yourself grace and filling your own bucket to let go of these things that have hurt you and moving forward in a much more healthy, productive way, because then you’re available to be so much of a better leader and influencer to others. When you’re not holding onto the baggage of your past hurts.

NATE REGIER: Amazing. Thank you. So for both of you, I’m curious, I found the ones that stuck out for me and someone else that might read the book would find others that really speak to them. Are there any simple truths in this book that you think might be overlooked, but are so important or maybe ones you haven’t talked about or been asked about as much?

KEN BLANCHARD: That’s a good question.

RANDY CONLEY: Ken, you want to go first?

KEN BLANCHARD: Yeah. I’m just trying to think of one, because they’re all so important. But I think people overlook a lot of them and I think one of the key ones we talked about in the beginning is catching people doing things right. I think we overlook the power of that and making that a part of the way we operate. That’s why I want to hold onto that. One of all the things I’ve taught.

RANDY CONLEY: Yeah. For me, Nate, I would say as Ken, it’s like your kids, right? Which kid is your favorite? You can’t answer that question. They’re all unique in their own way. But one that maybe gets overlooked. It’s a play on words and it’s simple truth number 32. There’s no trust without us. The two letters in the middle of the word trust is us, U and S. And it gets to the truth that trust at its most fundamental purest level is an interpersonal, dynamic between two people.

We often generalize trust and say, “Oh, do you trust the organization? Or trust the government or whatever.” That’s a form of generalized trust, but it all originates between two people. And I think that’s the most special thing that a leader has in the workplace. It’s about you and each person that you have an opportunity to influence. And it’s got to start at that individual level. And if you can get that right and build trust there, trust is that multiplier. It’s that infectious ingredient that just starts growing and growing. And before you know it, you invest one on one. Then your team is a more high trust team. Your business unit becomes higher trust, your organization, but it all starts you and me. There’s no trust without us.

NATE REGIER: Love that. Is there anything else you’d want to leave us with, anything that’s on your heart these days, or maybe as you’ve been talking about this book and people are interacting with it, is there anything that’s bubbling up that you want to leave my audience with?

KEN BLANCHARD: Yeah. I’d like to leave something my mother taught me when I was young. Because it’s so true for people nowadays to realize she said, “Ken, don’t you ever act like you’re better than anybody else, but don’t let anybody else act like they’re better than you. God didn’t make any junk. There’s a pearl of goodness in everybody.” So I’m a digger. And I think if we all would look at the pearl of goodness in other people, we would realize that we have something in common with everybody rather than focusing on what we have different.

NATE REGIER: Well, I can tell you firsthand Ken, that you live that every single day and every interaction, no matter who you meet, I got to experience that recently. And I know people that know you would say the same thing. So you are a person who lives the things you talk about. They’re not just words on a page.


NATE REGIER: Randy, is there anything you want to leave us with?

RANDY CONLEY: Yeah. This gives me an opportunity to share one of my other favorite simple truths, Nate, and that is number 20, love is the answer. Now what is the question? And we referenced the famous love passage from the Bible in 1 Corinthians 13, but really it doesn’t matter your faith or your perspective on that. What really matters is are you a person that exemplifies those characteristics? Love is that dirty four letter word that we don’t like to use in business, but that’s really what it’s all about. Leadership is about relationships. Do your people really feel like you care about them and have their best interest in mind? And so if leaders can look at that love passage and do a self-assessment of, “Am I patient, am I kind, am I not rejoicing in the wrong, but rejoicing in the right? Am I being hopeful?” And all those sorts of things, that’s the answer.

NATE REGIER: So maybe the next book is 52 ways to answer the same question with the word love.

RANDY CONLEY: Ah, I like it.

NATE REGIER: Aw, thank you to both of you, Randy, for your contribution to the trust field and for digging deep down into that and giving us those nuggets and for the two of you for your whole body of work, who you are as people, what you’ve contributed to the leadership field, how can people get a hold of you and learn more and get this book?

RANDY CONLEY: Well, the book’s website is You can go there and learn more about the book and jump to your favorite book seller. Of course it’s available at all your favorite book sellers, you can check out our organization at and you can certainly follow Ken and I on Twitter or LinkedIn. Look for us there @KenBlanchard or @RandyConley. And you’ll find us. We’re pretty easy to find.

NATE REGIER: Yeah, that’s fantastic.

RANDY CONLEY: We’d love to connect with you.

NATE REGIER: Ken, Randy, thank you so much for sharing your time, sharing your wisdom and being here today. I’m sure my audience will really appreciate that.

KEN BLANCHARD: Well, thank you, Nate. You’re pretty special, so appreciate it.

RANDY CONLEY: Thanks Nate. Keep up your good work. It’s important and valuable work that we need in our organizations today.

NATE REGIER: Wow. What an engaging and inspiring conversation with Ken Blanchard and Randy Conley, authors of Simple Truths of Leadership: 52 Ways to Be a Servant Leader and Build Trust. It was hard to narrow it down to three key takeaways this time, but here’s what I took away that I’d really like to highlight. First of all, is the key to developing people is to catch them doing things right. Ken believes deeply that this is the most important and often overlooked truth. Leaders so often succumb to the false belief that their job is to find fault and point out mistakes. But common sense tells us that people will do more of the things you pay attention to.

Second of all, there is no trust without us. Trust is an interpersonal dynamic between two people. We might generalize trust to an organization or a team or a brand, but that’s still one-sided. All trust originates in the interactions between people. And finally, forgiveness is letting go of our hope for a better past. We often hold on to unforgiveness because we think it’s hurting the other person. “Oh, we’re sticking it to him.” But as Randy jokingly explained, “While we are harboring our resentment, that other person is probably off living their best life.” Forgiving others isn’t about letting others off the hook. It’s actually a very self full act. It’s how we take care of ourselves. Stay healthy and keep our tank full so we can show up with compassion.

VOICEOVER: I hope you enjoyed this episode of On Compassion with Dr. Nate. If you found new hope or guidance for your life, will you share it with your tribe? If you know someone who could be a great guest, please let us know. Are you ready for a practical way to bring more compassion to your organization? We have a solution. Visit Check out the show notes for links and contact information, and remember to subscribe, rate and give a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening. Until next time, keep your compassion mindset engaged.

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