Discussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 2 of 3

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Key Points

  1. In the old paradigm, the CEO was at the top of the pyramid. However, we are shifting towards a new paradigm which flips the pyramid and places the customer at the top.
  2. The Key to creating a positive work environment is identifying emotional needs and working towards meeting them.
  3. People want to feel connected and not like a cog in the wheel. To prevent being a cog one must match passion with a business need.

Conversation Highlights

  • Pyramid Paradigm – 3:47
  • Identify and Meet Needs – 11:50
  • Intersection of Skill and Passion – 19:31

Danny:Hello and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone podcast. This is your co-host, Danny Ryan. I’m here with Tommy. Tommy, how are you doing?


Tommy:I’m doing great.




Tommy:We got some rain finally. I never thought I’d say that, but we’re getting rain again.


Danny:Yeah, no. You’ve got some rain to feed all of your crops. What do you have, 100 acres going on now?


Tommy:6,000 square feet is my starting point.


Danny:Oh, nice. Very nice. Awesome. What are you doing now? You’re just prepping the garden, or what sort of stage are you in with that right now?


Tommy:Yeah. There’s a section that I actually am growing something on. A smaller, like 25 by 20 section. And then I’ve got a 120 by 50 foot section that I’ve plowed. I’m gonna lay irrigation to that this weekend, and then plant maybe this weekend or next weekend.


Danny:Lay irrigation.




Danny:Very nice. You’re getting serious, man.


Tommy:Yeah. I don’t mess around. I just said, “Go big or go home.”


Danny:Go big or go home. I love it. I love it. This is a part deux, part two of our book discussion on The Servant. The author is James C. Hunter. Last time, we had such a good time. We sort of went long with it, so we decided to break it up into two parts. We left off on chapter two. We were just discussing the last part of this, was discussing about relationships and they’re so important to organizations and life. What’s the most important ingredient? We discussed that trust is the most important ingredient.


In chapter two, let’s pick up with that. This is using a good old Covey 00:02:16 word, which is paradigm. He’s describing what the old paradigm is. As I mentioned, this is about a gentleman who goes onto a retreat and is meeting with someone who used to be in the business life, named Simeon. They’re meeting up in the mornings, before everything gets started for the day. It starts off with a conversation between the two of them. One part of it is the guy’s pretty up front. It says, this is Simeon talking. He says, “Oh yes, John. I’ve noticed that you don’t listen very well.” “What do you mean?”, I asked defensively. “I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty good listener. Yesterday morning, when we met in your room, you cut me off mid-sentence no less than three times. Now my ego can handle that, John, but I’m afraid some of the messages you send to people that you are leading when you cut them off like that. Haven’t others told you about this bad habit you’ve developed?”


He sort of goes into this. He says the key of this is your feelings of respect, he basically says to him, “I respect you.” He’s saying your feelings of respect must be aligned with your actions of respect. That was an important part of getting started with this chapter. Then sort of to jump forward to this, let me draw a visual for you as best as I can. If you think of a pyramid. The old paradigm is the pyramid, and sort of using military terms, you have the CEO or general at the top. Then underneath that, you have the vice president with the colonels, in the case of military. Then underneath them, you have the middle managers and the captains and lieutenants. Then under that you have supervisors, the sergeants. And this is sort of building out the base of the pyramid. You have employees, or as we like to call them, associates. Then you have grunts or troops for the military concept. Then underneath that, they have the-


Tommy:We don’t call people grunts?


Danny:I don’t know what you call me behind my back. No, I know what you call me. Then underneath that, you have the customer, which is often thought of in the military sense, it’s thought of as the enemy. That’s the old paradigm.


What we’re moving towards, or the new paradigm, is flipping the pyramid. As you can imagine, you’re just flipping it over where at the top is the customer. The next layer is the associates, otherwise what some people call the employees. Then you have the supervisors, then the middle manager, then the vice presidents, the CEO. Basically they’re supporting those roles. So, it’s changing over to thinking more of the new paradigm versus the old paradigm. There’s discussion with this as well about sort of the how does this relate to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and a discussion about that.


Then, sort of jumping into the third chapter, which really gets into sort of the, what I would classify as some real good meat in the book.


Tommy:Yeah. Before you jump into that, Danny.


Danny:Sure, go ahead.


Tommy:I’ve got one kind of analogy or one thing that we have as a practice within ThreeWill is the whole idea of not having bosses, but sponsors. I think when you think about bosses you think of the traditional pyramid, and then when you think about sponsors in the way we like to talk about sponsors, it’s flipped the other way around where the sponsor is serving the sponsee and enabling them to be successful. That’s a concept I think we like to practice here, which is assertive leadership. But that’s also reinforced organizationally all the way through. What’s interesting is it’s not necessarily a pyramid. It’s almost a very flat rectangle, in a sense. It’s a matrix of people sponsoring each other and based on where they are in their growth and what kind of support they need. It doesn’t necessarily fall in a pecking order of seniority as much as, does this person have something to offer for that other person.


Danny:Awesome. The next, in chapter three, it’s entitled The Model. One of the things he writes up on the board is, intentions minus actions equal squat. Then intentions plus actions equal will. There’s quite a discussion on one of our favorite words, which is will. He gets into the what the leadership model looks like. So, the servant leadership model. If you can take … If we sort of pick back up with that upside down pyramid, the leadership model is you have leadership at the top, authority underneath that. Underneath authority is service and sacrifice. Underneath service and sacrifice is love. Then underneath love is the will.


Let me pick out a couple of, and I’ve got a star by this one, so I know it’s important when I read it. Which is one of the ladies is really smart in the class that they’re in. She often tries to summarize, basically to listen to what’s been said and feed it back to Simeon. She says, “Let me see if I can summarize what I’ve learned. Leadership begins with the will, which is our unique ability as human beings to align our intentions with our actions and choose our behavior. With the proper will, we can choose to love the verb, which is about identifying and meeting the legitimate needs, not wants, of those we lead. When we meet the needs of others we will, by definition, be called upon to serve and even sacrifice. When we serve and sacrifice for others, we build authority or influence, the law of the harvest. When we build authority with people, then we have earned the right to be called leader.” Boy, unpack that one.


Tommy:I think at the end of the day, you’re not a leader unless you have a follower. I think you can have a sense of power with a title, but at the end of the day, if there’s no one following you, you’re really not a leader. I think we try to encourage that organizationally, through de-emphasizing titles and not getting caught up in titles. We do have them, but something that I think from a social norm that people want to see and experience. They want to see you having a title that at the end of the day, indicates there’s a responsibility there. We like to focus more on the responsibility. I think if people are doing their jobs well, and as a leader, doing things that serve others, that creates that sense of caring. I think people want to follow people that care for them, and have a kind of a role in an organization that is about organizing around things and getting things accomplished as a team.


Good leaders, I think, in our organization are people that really care a lot and are organized around how they care to rally a group of people to get something accomplished. That comes, in our area, you know what is your role in the company. What are you doing? Are you helping with getting us organized around technology, around the people in the organization, around our sales, around our marketing, around our finances? The people that combine that role and responsibility with a sense of care, I think naturally start growing as leaders of our organization.


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tommy:That’s my quick kind of feedback of the way I kind of get a sense of what is leadership and how does that apply to our environment.


Danny:Just to pick back up on, picking one of the sentences out of what I just read, because that leads us into the next chapter, chapter four. “With the proper will, we can choose to love the verb, which is about identifying and meeting the legitimate needs, not wants, of those we lead.” It wraps the chapter up with, “It seems to me that leadership boils down to a simple four word job description, identify and meet needs.” Often you think of needs … It’s not just the physical needs, it’s the emotional needs, it’s beyond … Part of this is trying to identify within your organization what are those needs that are contained within that organization. I think part of this with trying to understand what type of environment we’re creating is within ThreeWill, what are those needs and trying to identify and make sure those needs are being met.


I think a lot of that keeps us, am I happy. Is this the right environment for me to be in? I think some of those things, you know, is recognized. I think a core emotional need is people want to be recognized and have other people feel grateful for them. This whole emotional need of other people recognizing when I’m doing something good. I think some of the things we do inside of ThreeWill are to meet that core emotional need.


Tommy:Yeah. I that what first comes to mind when you say that, to recognize someone’s contribution, we have a channel within our team in the café, which is praise. I think it mentally draws the attention that we value that. It’s a little tickler to say, when there’s an opportunity to catch someone doing a great thing, let’s make sure we praise them. It’s on a TV or two, and follow-up from some negative thing that occurs. That you have to do in certain situations that are important to protect the customer’s situation and preserve the value that you’re providing, but at the end of the day, it’s I think where you get … The needle moves as an organization is catching people doing the right thing. You want to reinforce. You’re like, “Okay, when I do that, that gets recognized and so I want to do more of that.” Yeah. That’s what comes to mind.


There’s something else you were talking about earlier. It will come back to me. I’ll just make a note.


Danny:Sure. If it comes back up, just, you know. The next chapter is called The Verb and it’s talking about the love and leadership. This is, has aspects of this that where they’re pulling in. Here they’re talking about, well what’s the definition of love. What is love? This is pretty interesting stuff here. The place where you typically hear where love is defined is at almost every wedding you go to. You know 1st Corinthians, chapter 13. It says, “Love is patient. Love is kind. It’s not puffed up or arrogant. It does not behave unbecomingly. It does not seek its own. It does not take into account, the wrong suffer. It does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”


Then you ask, does this list of qualities sound familiar to you? Then, if you remember from our last discussion that we had, Tommy. This guy says, “Yeah, it sounds a lot like that list of leadership qualities we came up with last Sunday.” When we’re going through that. He sort of paraphrases the passage into bullet points, which is love is patient. It’s kind. Love is kindness, excuse me. It’s humility. It’s respectfulness. It’s selflessness. It’s forgiveness. It’s honesty and it’s commitment. He sort of draws this out and he goes into a discussion of what agape love is. He’s got a nice little table here, where he says authority and leadership. He goes through and basically shows the similarities between leadership and love. With agape love, it’s patience, kindness, humility, respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty, and commitment. With authority and leadership, you’re honest and trustworthy. You’re a good role model. You’re caring. You’re committed. You’re a good listener. You held people accountable. You treat people with respect. You gave people encouragement. Your positive, enthusiastic attitude. Appreciated people.


Then he sort of goes through and describes, basically drawing how this definition of love and the verb is a lot of the characteristics of what a great leader is.


Tommy:Yeah. I think what’s sometimes difficult is looking at those touchy feely parts of leadership. I think the genuine nature of a leader comes out in the stressful times. Do you have that patience and that kindness when it comes to, you know, things that don’t go so well? That’s where leadership gets tested. Where someone feels like there’s authentic kindness there is when kindness comes underneath stress. Because anyone can fake kindness. True kindness is gonna come when, you know, you’re in a crossroad that is gonna naturally frustrate you, naturally get your emotions going. Then someone sees, okay how do you really feel about me when push comes to shove. You see that at work. You see that in your personal life with family and friends. That’s what, I think people will keep their eye out and say, okay does this person really care for me, and I’ll find that out, really when I do something wrong or do something that stresses the situation.


I always try to remind myself when it comes to the tough situations, is to say, “What do I want to represent? What’s important to come away with?” Sometimes you have to lose things in that process. You might lose business. You might lose certain opportunities for even growth. You say, “Okay. I’ve got to sacrifice that because at the end of the day, I want to be true to caring about that person”, and show that even in the tough times.


The other thing I was thinking about before is when you were talking about need. You know, addressing the need. I think for folks to be happy in an organization, we talk about the intersection of people’s skill and passion to a business need. That could be a business need. It could be an organizational need. People want to feel connected to, this makes a difference. You see in larger companies, people start getting disconnected from are they truly needed or are they just a cog in the wheel. At the end of the day, they can just be replaced with the next cog. A lot of energy we put around the organization is trying to get a sense of what are people passionate about and trying to attract that business need. It’s not always as clean as you like it. You know, trying to balance, okay, and recognize here are opportunities for us to really help people because we care about process.


We care about leveraging technology to increase collaboration within organizations. We’ve got good skill around that and let’s continue to try to hone what does that look like. As technology changes, trying to understand how do we attach ourselves to the right kind of pains and organizations that we can continue to be passionate about. I think what’s difficult is you can be skilled at a much larger set of things. Where you try to balance it out is finding where is that passion, and where are their true business needs that we can apply our skills. What I find, and I think we do it even today to a certain degree, is there are opportunities where we’ve got the skill and there’s a business need, and we don’t quite have the passion. Sometimes you have to play it out. You know, sometimes you don’t know you’re passionate about it until you do it for a while and get a sense for, is this something that I feel like I can do very well, and make a difference.


Sometimes that passion emerges out of that, where maybe you don’t think you want to do a certain type of, say, practice, but after you do it for a while and you find that you’re helping people and you’re using your skills, and you start seeing the vision of, this makes a difference. Sometimes passion will emerge where you don’t have it before. Those are some of my thoughts.


Danny:Who-wa. Great stuff, Tommy. He goes through each one of, sort of the aspects of love. The one that I wanted to call out was humility, because I know we talk a lot about humility. He says humbleness … He says an anonymous spiritual teacher once wrote, “Humbleness is nothing more than a true knowing of yourself and your limitations. Those who see themselves as they truly are would surely be humbled indeed. Humility is about being real and authentic with people and discarding the false masks.”


Yeah. The more I think about humility, the more, and again it’s describing if you’re truly going to love and serve another person, humility is an aspect of that, right. It just seems like it has to be an aspect of that. So he goes through all of the different other, you know selflessness, forgiveness, and all of the other characteristics of agape love. Then, to get to the end of this, and then it looks like we will have a part three of this, is he goes through each of those aspects and he has sort of a table that he calls love and leadership. He goes through and his patience is showing self-control. Kindness is giving attention, appreciation, and encouragement. Humility is being authentic without pretense or arrogance. Respectfulness is treating others as important people. Selflessness is meeting the needs of others. Forgiveness is giving up resentment when wrong. Honesty is being free from deception. Commitment is sticking to your choices. Results, service and sacrifice is setting aside your own wants and needs, seeking out the greatest good for others.


Then it sort of wraps up with, “So what I’m hearing you say, Simeon, is that love the verb could be defined as the act or acts of extending yourself to others by identifying and meeting their legitimate needs. Would that be close?” He says, “Beautiful, Kim.” Anything, last minute things to add to this?


Tommy:No, Danny. Thank you. I appreciate you sharing your Cliff notes. It’s my favorite way to read materials. The cliff notes.




Tommy:The audiobook. This is kind of a mix of the audiobook of the Cliff notes.


Danny:Absolutely. The next part that we will discuss is chapter five, and that is The Environment. We’ll get into The Environment. It starts off with a quote from Bill Hewlett, of Hewlett Packard. “Men and women want to do a good job. If they are provided with the proper environment, they will do so.” We’ll pick back up with part three next time. Thanks again, Tommy, for taking the time to do this. Thank you everyone, for listening. We’ll see you next time when we cover part three. Bye, bye.


Additional Credits

Podcast Producer – Oliver Penegar
Intro/Outro Music – Daniel Bassett

Danny RyanDiscussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 2 of 3

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