Ever wonder what the lovechild of Ken Blanchard & Ernest Hemingway would look like? Here I review the book One To One by Robertson Hunter Stewart.

Engaged employees are those who find true purpose in the workplace

    Robertson Hunter Stewart

Meeting in Paris

When we first met in my Paris office, Robertson and I hit it off right away. It was a difficult time in my career when I was losing sight of my purpose as an employee and leader. I was distressed. It was a scale-up environment (which is my speciality), and, this time, the fast-paced growth was taking its toll on me. I no longer had the drive and energy I was known and respected for. I can tell you first-hand that there is nothing worse than lacking purpose. It makes being impactful nearly impossible and this is something you can’t help but invite into your home.

I think neither of us wanted to stop talking about people management. We were both avid readers and fans of business books, with our own respective families of writers. We were both equally excited about what managing teams meant and the role of the manager/leader has in creating the right environment so that everyone can thrive. To put in bluntly, it felt good to be inspired by someone who genuinely cares!

Rob became my mentor/coach, and we spent the next few months working on projects to reposition my approach to some of the challenges I faced. I credit him for helping me rediscover things for myself and see clearly when the fog was overwhelming. I am grateful for his time and approach.

Rob is a special person – but you don’t need me to tell you this, his books reflect that much better than any story I could share!

One To One

I’ve been asked to write a peer review and I jumped to occasion. What an honour! Rob is, to me, part- Europe’s Ken Blanchard and part- Hemingway. He certainly is in that lineage of writers and people who genuinely put the human experience at the forefront of long-term business success. He helps leaders liberate themselves from pre-existing notions and the rut of working circularly around bad habits. He points you back to your purpose.

The comparison to Ken Blanchard goes a bit deeper. Both individuals have an incredible capacity of chewing up these complex concepts and spoon-feeding us the wisdom in easy actionable insights. The older I get, the more I realise that getting to this level of simplicity requires the sharpest of minds. The information is truly distilled like a fine Scotch (sorry Rob, couldn’t help myself).

Most business books I read leave me inspired. What is often missing is how to concretely implement the teachings in my day-to-day. It’s great to be inspired but it is better to be able to bring an actionable plan back with you.

One To One is an important book that should sit on any leader’s bookshelf. It’s a reality check. Even if you think you are doing everything correctly on that front, there is always room for improvement. We all need to be reminded of the essentials.

It’s a simple guide on the essential qualities your regular one to one meetings should have in order to fulfil their purpose. The book made me appreciate how we, as leaders, have a bigger role in carefully considering our actions in shaping purpose for our teams.

The framework on how to manage one to one should be a cornerstone for all aspiring to be better and to do better. The book is structured using the 5WH frame: What, Why, When, Where, Who, How. It’s an effective way to break down quality one to one meetings. Each chapter is bite-sized and easily understood.

As soon as I finished reading the book (took me about 2 hours), I called Rob to congratulate him. His structure was spot-on, and I can only hope that he distils more complex management challenges into this 5WH framework.

Leading With Purpose

I can only imagine this book will make the reader a better leader. Sure, you may tell yourself that a lot of it is common sense and that you can figure it out on your own. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your people.

Even with the best of intentions, if you do not structure the key management tools you have, there will be chaos and disorder. People you genuinely care about will turn against you.

I’m sure I may be preaching to the choir here, but I would like to emphasize one more point: once we hire someone, it’s our responsibility to give them purpose. This responsibility impacts the lives of your people beyond the workplace. It’s far too costly to you and your organisation to have employees without purpose. Without purpose, we are like lost souls.

It’s good to want to do the right thing, it is better though to do it properly, so your intentions don’t get diluted and misinterpreted, as mine has in the past.

I’ll leave you with a relevant quote from Master Choa Kok Sui:

Will has two parts: Power and Purpose. Without Power, the purpose cannot be manifested. Power without purpose diffuses.

You can find more about One to One here

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Technology scale-up expert specialized in building teams to scale operations and commercial teams in high-growth environments. Background in turning around and leading change with under-performing Hospitality operations, transitioning into travel technology during the digital revolution. Dynamic and results driven Business Leader and EMBA graduate with 20+ years’ international experience combining unique blend of vision, creative talent, and strong business acumen to identify market trends and create high-impact customer-centric strategies. Persistence in achieving goals that leads to professional success while building corporate value. Outgoing team-builder able to forge key relationships that drive brand awareness.