Reviewed by Chelsie Wicker
“The 4th Secret of the One-Minute Manager” is part of a series written by Ken Blanchard and Margret McBride. The book focuses on how the workplace can improve when leaders admit their mistakes and apologize for their actions. The story begins with a man named Matt, who works in a corporate environment. Lately there have been problems arising and the business he works for is in trouble. Matt’s boss, the leading cause of the problems, tells him that something must be done quick or the business will have to go under. Over the weekend Matt’s assignment is to think of possible solutions. He decides to call his father’s old friend Jack, who seems to have the correct answer for everything.
Over the course of the weekend, Jack mentors Matt about leadership problems. Jack explains how there are four secrets that all managers must know, and they are the One Minute Goals, One Minute Praising, One Minute Reprimands, and lastly the One Minute Apology. For the purposes of Matt’s situation, Jack focuses on the One Minute Apology. This secret boils down to a one-minute point. The minute you realize you have made a mistake, you need to apologize. Saying it only takes a minute, but becoming completely honest with yourself and taking the responsibility for your mistakes takes longer. At the core of many problems, there is a denial for the truth. A leader must acknowledge quickly his or her mistake before the problem gets pushed under the rug and the problem starts increasing.
Over the course of the weekend, Matt hears many of Jack’s anecdotes about how the fourth secret has been applied in real life. He tells of a story about Abraham Lincoln, who handled a situation with an army general out of hand and out of character. When the army general asked for time off to attend his wife’s funeral, Lincoln, who is already in a bad mood, does not give the man any sympathy and tells him that he cannot take any time off. The next day, Lincoln acknowledges the mistake he made and apologizes to the general. His apology contained everything that the ideal apology would consist of. He apologized for his behavior, he was honest, he took responsibility for his actions, he acted as soon as possible, and he demonstrated his integrity. Lincoln realized that the mistake he made was inconsistent with who he wanted to be. By making his apology, Lincoln was able to achieve a sense of self-worth.
After spending with weekend with Jack, Matt returns to work and shares his knowledge with his boss and the rest of the board of directors. His boss takes into consideration Matt’s ideas, and makes a sincere apology to the rest of the board for all he has put them through. After consideration, the board agrees to welcome back their boss and the overall morale and energy improved immensely in the company.
The authors of the book cover many of the characteristic qualities of leaders that have been discussed in class. Some of these include humility, confidence, fairness, honesty, apologetic, and integrity. Although the book tends to focus primarily on apologies, it is truly a powerful way to make things better and have problems solved. The author does not however discuss in detail how the problem is fixed after the apology. The reader is left with the curiosity of whether or not an apology can solve all problems. It would have been helpful if the author went into greater detail about what you can do in addition to the apology. The situation that needs solving in the book is quite vague and may not be the best example for readers to refer to.
The book describes more about the leadership qualities and duties of an individual than it does management qualities. Fredrick Taylor’s “Scientific Management” and Mary Follett’s “Collaborative Management” techniques are not discussed. “The Fourth Secret” describes the ways in which cooperation and relationships can be improved by analyzing one’s own actions and being responsible for them.
As a public relations student, I would recommend this book to any fellow classmate of mine. The book was an easy read that was informative, yet enjoyable. The format incorporates a lot of beneficial information in a simple context. The main character is learning new things while having fun at the same time. His mentor tells him there is no reason that you can’t incorporate fun with business. This book is relevant to anyone in the business world especially those who would like to lead others. The messages in the book reveal many light-bulb moments about how to be a leader. David Bach, a number one New York Times bestselling author, says, “This book will become its own phenomenon like ‘The One Minute Manager’ and ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ Companies will buy it for employees, parents will buy it for their children, and friends will buy it as gifts for friends. And the result will be a better and happier world.”