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The One-Minute School Leader

The One Minute School Leader

Leading a team can be time-consuming. School leaders must set expectations, help their team find direction, and make sure everyone stays on track. How can you make sure that you’re managing your team effectively? According to Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, authors of The One Minute Manager, the secret lies in three key moments in the life of your relationship with your team, and they each take a minute. 

Here’s a brief video summary of The One Minute Manager from The Productivity Game.

Before you begin


There are two important factors to consider before you embark on a journey toward becoming a One Minute School Leader:


  1. Frequency: These one minute interactions won’t work if you don’t do them often, especially at the beginning of the process. While the goal is developing autonomous employees, as a One Minute School Leader, you must invest time frequently in these three conversations to develop the necessary habits for your team to thrive.
  2. Documentation: Maintaining consistency and accountability is crucial for a One Minute School Leader. So it’s crucial to keep a record of each of these interactions. While you could use email, pen and paper, calendars, and other tools to try and cobble it together, Sibme is the perfect space to facilitate and record all three of these one minute interactions. 

Three habits of the One Minute School Leader


The authors of The One Minute Manager suggest that your success in managing a team won’t be found in micromanaging people. You also won’t succeed by leaving people alone. Successful leaders don’t tell their teams what to do, they help their team find ways to successfully set their own path. This is done through individualized conversations that specifically help each person achieve personal and professional success. 


Habit # 1: One Minute Goals


While most managers work with their team to set goals, these goals may not be effective. One Minute Goals are meant to address that problem by being brief, achievable, and meaningful. Importantly, you can’t set One Minute Goals for someone else. Rather, as a manager, you facilitate the process by asking someone three questions:



  • What are you hoping to achieve this week? Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself. This question can elicit an aspirational response from someone. By asking someone to stretch themselves, you inspire them to think of goals that would really mean something to them. Additionally, you don’t use the word “goals” in your question. By asking about “achievement” you’re setting the expectation that these goals will be completed in the next few days. 
  • Of the achievements you listed, which one could have the largest impact? This takes into account the 80-20 rule, which acknowledges that most effort will be placed on a small number of tasks. By asking someone to pick a single goal, you encourage them to focus on something impactful.
  • Can you clarify exactly what you plan to accomplish? This question is meant to turn this single aspirational goal into a set of action steps. Asking for clarity is really a way of requiring a set of benchmarks or accomplishments that will ultimately lead to achieving the goal for the week. 



NOTE: This process might take longer than a minute early on, especially when you get to question # 3. But keep at it and make sure you repeat this process regularly. Practicing the One Minute Goal will help people develop the habit and will 

One Minute Goals: After the conversation

Blanchard and Johnson insist that One Minute Goals only work if you make sure they are public and accountable. The authors suggest you ask your team to email you a copy of their goals and print them out, but if you’re doing this every week, that can be pretty hard to keep track of. With Sibme’s Goal Setting tool, you can easily ask your team to capture their One Minute Goal online, making it easy to keep track of progress and turn the process into a game, another important part of the One Minute Goal. By checking things off the list throughout the week, your team will enjoy the process and feel successful as they make progress towards their achievement.

One minute goal

Habit # 2: One Minute Praisings


One Minute Praisings are another important ritual of the One Minute Manager, especially as your team is learning new skills. Simply providing resources to help your team learn something new at work can often result in frustration for people as they fail to implement what they’re learning. One Minute Praisings help people turn new learning into new action. And they’re easy to do. As you’re watching someone implement a new skill they’re learning:


  1. Specify their success and its impact. By telling someone what they did right, and explaining why it matters, you help them develop a clearer understanding and feel successful during a difficult process. Learning can be challenging, so specific praise early on helps people continue to persist by recognizing the little things they’re doing right.
  2. Pause. After finding one thing that someone does right, ask them to take a moment to reflect on that achievement. This helps build confidence and pride, cementing in the new behavior.
  3. Tell them to keep going. An encouragement from someone in authority can be a real shot in the arm to someone during the difficult learning process. 


This short One Minute Praising should occur early and often when your team is learning new skills to achieve their goals. Learning new things keeps work fun and engaging, but only if you feel a sense of pride about your accomplishments. One Minute School Leaders should make sure to take time to “watch each employee” like a hawk as they’re learning new skills, but with the specific desire to praise success, not to redirect failure. 

One-Minute praisings

One Minute Praisings: Let them see it

It can be difficult to accurately reflect on what you’re doing while you’re doing it. So One Minute Praisings that are captured in a space where your team can return and reflect on their success will double their impact. Consider using Sibme’s tools to capture your One Minute Praisings live or asynchronously so you can reinforce behavior and help people see the progress they’re making over time.

Habit # 3: One Minute Redirects


Sometimes we all mess up. We might have all the skills we need to achieve our goals, but lack the drive or discipline to do it. When this happens, the One Minute School Leader can use One Minute Redirects to help people get back on track. 


    1. Tell the person exactly what went wrong. Don’t beat around the bush. Be direct and concise. 
    2. Tell the person how you feel about it and let that feeling sink in. This communicates both the impact of the behavior and also the damage it has done to your professional relationship.
    3. Remind the person you still believe in them. This is the part where most managers fail. While it’s important to communicate that you aren’t happy with how things are, it doesn’t mean you’re upset with who your employee is. By simply saying, “you’re better than this,” you can communicate that you have high expectations and know your employee can achieve them. 



One Minute Redirects differ from most boss/employee redirects in that they focus on behaviors not personalities. By telling someone “you screwed up, but you’re not a screw up,” the One Minute School Leader acknowledges the mistake while still showing belief in your team. 

Find out how Jeff Bezos handles redirects

Final Thoughts


The One Minute Manager suggests that each of these three habits can revolutionize how you lead your team. While each of these interactions are intentionally brief, their ultimate purpose is to be frequent and evenly distributed across your entire team. You must engage in all three of these habits with everyone on your team to be an effective One Minute School Leader. A tool like Sibme can help you stay organized and make sure you’re checking in with everyone regularly, but it won’t be enough. Being a One Minute Manager is mostly a way of thinking, not a way of being. By being concise, focused, and achievement-oriented, you help your team develop these values in their work, leading to daily progress and enjoyment at work. 

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