Introduction by Ken Blanchard
IN WINTER 2007, my colleagues and I from The Ken Blanchard Companies published Leading at a Higher Level. It pulled together the best thinking from more than twenty-five years of working together. It truly is Blanchard on Leadership. Our hope is that someday, everywhere, everyone will know someone who leads at a higher level.
When you lead at a higher level, the development of the people you’re leading is just as important as the performance and results you desire. This is true whether you’re leading students in class, youngsters on a team, parishioners at church, family members at home, or direct reports at the office.
In the business realm, the importance of developing people applies to both your employees and your customers. In short, the well-being and personal growth of the people you’re leading are as important—if not more so—as the goals you seek to achieve.
As a result, we define leading at a higher level as the process of achieving worthwhile results while acting with respect, care, and fairness for the well-being of all involved.
The Leading at a Higher Level Series
The feedback on Leading at a Higher Level has been tremendous. Now that people know our curriculum, the only additions they have requested are in-depth examples of how leaders and their organizations have taken aspects of Leading at a Higher Level and put them into practice while maintaining a dual focus on performance and people. We decided to introduce the Leading at a Higher Level series to do just that.
I am thrilled that the first book in this series is with Garry Ridge, president and CEO of WD-40 Company. Conventional wisdom tells us that if it isn’t broken, we shouldn’t fix it. WD-40 Company wasn’t broken when Garry stepped into the role of CEO in 1997. It was a brand leader that had produced consistent profits for more than forty years. WD-40’s philosophy and culture were conservative, and that cautious approach had served the company well. Yet that wasn’t good enough for Garry because he knew the company’s best was yet to come.
Garry bucked tradition and messed with success. Among the many changes that he and his colleagues initiated was a performance review system that has elevated Partnering for Performance—a major aspect of Leading at a Higher Level—to whole new heights. This process has helped WD-40 Company to become a darling on Wall Street.
Since becoming CEO and implementing the “Don’t Mark My Paper, Help Me Get an A” performance review system, Garry has seen the company’s annual sales more than triple. They have grown from $100 million—with only 30 percent coming from domestic sales—to more than $339 million in 2008—with a more balanced 53 percent coming from sales outside the United States. During that time the company’s capital value has nearly doubled, from $320 million to $600 million. And with sales per employee at $1.1 million, WD-40 Company is an extraordinarily efficient operation.
Remarkably, they have accomplished this financial feat while making WD-40 Company a great place to work. The 2008 WD-40 Company Employee Opinion Survey found an astonishing 94 percent of the company’s people to be fully engaged in their work.