So, what do killer whales have to do with training humans?

Recently, I have had the opportunity to read some of Ken Blanchard’s books and share time with a few leaders in one of his organizations.  One of the things which has become quite obvious through my studies is why Ken finds himself at the top of the leadership development community.  From the beginning, with The One Minute Manager and Situational Leadership to now, Ken and his teams have aided thousands of organizations on implementing the principles of what is often referred to as “servant leadership”.


Most recently, I was reading Blanchard’s book Whale Done – The Power of Positive Relationships. This is the story of a man named, Wes, who found himself visiting Sea World to “get away” from his draining corporate job.  During this “get away” Wes encountered a life changing experience.  After observing a SeaWorld show with killer whales, Wes asks the lead trainer, Dave, the question, “What’s the secret?  How do you trick these animals into performing for you?  Do you starve them?”  With much surprise, Dave shared principles the entire team of trainers learned from Shamu, one of the world’s largest killer whales.  Taking it a step further, Dave reveals that these same principles learned from Shamu are principles leaders all around the world are implementing with their teams.


So, what do killer whales have to do with training humans? More than you think!  As the story relates, and has been demonstrated by many organizations adopting principles, Blanchard outlines, “WHALE DONE” leaders and their organizations consistently outperform “GOTca” managers.  WHALE DONE leaders are focused on improving relationships by building trust, accentuating the positive, and redirecting energy when things get off track.  Emphasizing this “power of positive relationships”, Blanchard notes “You can’t punish a 9,000 pound Orca Whale, and then expect the trainer to get in the water with him.  Just as you can’t beat on your work team and expect them to improve their productivity at the end of the quarter.”

While the concepts discussed in this book seem quite simple, they tend to be more complex to implement.  For example:


“The WHALE DONE Response


·         Praise people immediately.

·         Be specific about what they did right or almost right.

·         Share your positive feelings about what they did.

·         Encourage them to keep up the good work.”


Simple…right?  Well, when is the last time you heard your boss, spouse, parent, coach, etc. provide you with this type of WHALE DONE response?  It may have been awhile.  This isn’t a criticism of these folks. It simply is that our culture tends to have been raised by “GOTca” managers.

These are the types of leadership principles and many more like them which we study daily and work with businesses and individuals to implement.  As a matter of fact, we encourage you to stay tuned for an upcoming announcement associated with our recent partnership with two of the world top leadership gurus.  Developing leaders and their teams is clearly our passion and we’re focused on continuing to surround ourselves with the world’s top leaders in order to best support businesses and individuals we serve.

If you would like to learn more about “servant leadership” or High Performance Leaders and their Teams, please contact us.  We would be glad to offer books, CDs, personalized coaching, and strategic consulting services to anyone sharing our passion.

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