Discussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 1 of 3

Key Points

  1. The Golden Rule is a key factor in leadership – treat others as you would want to be treated.
  2. Management and leadership are not the same things. Being a leader is who you are and management is what you do. They are not the same thing.
  3. Accomplishing the task at hand while, at the same time, building relationships with others is the key to leadership.

Conversation Highlights

  • Servant Leadership is Simple – 5:50
  • Power vs Authority – 11:33
  • The Key to Leadership – 17:15

Danny:Hello and welcome to The Two Bald Brothers and a Microphone Podcast. How’s it going, Tommy?


Tommy:It’s going well. I have my cappuccino this morning.


Danny:Oh boy, I’m going to take your stuff back.


Tommy:I’m giving you a warning.


Danny:So I’m taking your stuff back. Watch out. Watch out, Tommy’s fuego. He’s on fire, ladies and gentlemen. What I wanted to do today was …


Tommy:You must have been on a retreat.


Danny:I’m been on a retreat. Do I still-


Tommy:You see the beard going, the long hair.


Danny:Long hair? Get a haircut, you hippy. Yeah, I had some time off, during the retreat. I think I got through five different books. One of them I wanted to go through with you because it’s on a subject that is near and dear to both of our hearts. It’s a book called, The Servant. I just wanted to give you a little cliff notes version of the book.


Tommy:I love cliff notes.


Danny:You won’t even have to read this book. Look at what I’m doing for you, man. This is awesome. I just wanted to talk to you about-


Tommy:This reminds me of college.


Danny:Yes. This can’t be how you prepared for Chemical Engineering tests.


Tommy:No. No, just my Lit test.


Danny:Just your Lit test, okay. The name of the book is called, The Servant. The subtitle is, “A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership.” The way I heard about this book was from Amy and they were referring to this book when they were preparing for the new year at St. John Bosco, and they ended up bringing this up a couple of times. Amy had recommended it to me, and then I looked online, looked on Amazon saw that … Looked at other reviews and it looked like the kind of book that I wanted to read. It’s on servant leadership, and this is by James Hunter.


What’s neat about it is, is the book is about someone going on a retreat at a monastery, just like I went on a retreat at a monastery.




Danny:And this guy was a … The essence of it is, he was a successful executive, but had some of life’s normal turmoil’s. I can say turmoil’s, that come up and he was taking this week off and had signed up for a week retreat on leadership. The book starts out with, let me just jump into it. One of the interesting things, and depending on who you talk to about coincidences versus nothing is a coincidence. The guy kept on saying he ran into the name Simeon, which Simeon is in the bible. It’s the person who waited for Jesus to come around, then he could say that he could die, because he was waiting for him to show up; a very wise man.


This guy said he kept on running into this name, over and over in his life. He goes on the retreat and ends up finding out on the retreat that the person leading up the leadership seminar was Brother Simeon; it sort of wigged him out a little bit that he say that name again. The guy who was leading up the leadership retreat, was a guy he’d knew from industry. That was a very successful industry guy that was known but sort of heard that nobody really knew where he went to. Somebody said he went and joined a cult, or something like that, but in actuality he went and joined the Benedictine monks and living that life.




Danny:That’s how the whole sort of thing starts off, how the book starts off. He wrote, in 2012, a new intro to the whole thing, which I think runs into a lot of things. This book, even though it’s got some over themes of spiritual types of themes that go throughout it, or the overtones are spiritual, this is something he often talks to just 80-90% of the time, it’s just normal industry and how these apply to people in industry. How servant leadership is something that is just a good practice. It’s not something that’s only practiced in non-profit organizations or faith-based organizations.


Let’s dig on in. I’ve sort of ear-marked certain pages that I got something out of, and highlighted somethings that I wanted to bring up with you. One of them is in the prologue. “Servant leadership is simple. There’s one simple rule and that’s to treat people the way you want to be treated; the golden rule.” So it’s just sort of one of those things everybody … That’s the underlying basis for a lot of … how are you treating other people? Would you like to be treated that way as well. It’s very simple, and something that you can remember, which is very important, right?


One of the things he points out, “Let me start by stressing the point that leadership is not synonymous with management. Management is what you do, leadership is the person you are and the influence and impact you have on the people you come into contact with. Management is not synonymous with leadership. Leadership is synonymous with influence.” Then he brings up a couple of things like, Ken Blanchard, that One Minute Manager guy. He says, “Leadership is an influence process.” Then John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” We’ll probably get into this, but something that I’ve heard the message for is the difference between power and authority. I think I’ve ear-marked that, but I want to talk a little bit about that here in just a minute.


“What is a servant? Being a servant simply means, the business of identifying and meeting the legitimate needs of the people entrusted to your care.” Okay, if that’s being a servant, the key thing with this is needs. So you have to question yourself, what is the need versus want? What is that? “A need is a legitimate physical or psychological requirements for the well-being of an individual.” So I sort of gets into what do people need. “Servants then need to then get about the business of identifying and meeting legitimate needs of those entrusted to their care. There in lies the secret to leadership. When you identify and meet the legitimate needs of others, you will build influence with them.” So if I’m meeting your needs, that’s the process of building influence, if I’m taking care of some of these legitimate physical and psychological needs that you have.


Jim Collins in, Good to Great, found two qualities in all great leaders. The first was, something we’ve talked about a couple times, humility. That was the first quality of a great leader was humility. He describes that as being, “Other focused.” The second quality was, “A strong professional will to do the right thing with the people and for their organization.” Another word for this would be, character. So they have humility and character. Early in the book Mr. Collins says, “Team debated calling these humble, strong-willed yet selfless leaders, servant leaders, but decided against it fearing people would get the wrong idea if you used a term like servant.” He said, “The team settled on the term, Level-five Leader, instead. He didn’t like the connotation going with servant leader, so he switched over and said, “Lets just call them Level Five Leaders.” Which I thought was kind of interesting.


“Leadership development and character development are one. Leadership had little to do with your style or personality and everything to do with your substance, character. Character is doing the right thing. Winning those battles in your heart and mind, between what you want to do and what you should do.”


Then he goes into three steps to developing character leadership skills: The Three F’s. The first, is foundation. How do you develop these character within your organization, or character within a person? First is foundation, which is, “setting the standard of what great leadership looks like.” There’s a certain part of this that is a training the principles of what that looks like. Then, is feedback. “Identifying the gaps between where you are now and where you need to be as an effective leader.” Then there’s friction, which is, “Eliminating the gaps between where you are now and where you need to be.”


He’s pointing those out as the steps to developing character, and now we’re in the prologue. Sorry that was long. Then he talks about some of the, Simeon, and sort of where that gets into the week itself. The next part is defining the definitions, or coming up with the definitions for the book, and some of this is just getting into … Wants to define different things, as they get together as a group. It’s kind of neat reading the book, because you get to notice some of the other people on the retreat with him, and there’s a couple different characters that are involved.


“Leadership is the skill of influencing people to work enthusiastically towards goals, identifying as being for the common good.”


“Leadership is the skill of influencing people to work enthusiastically towards goals, identified as being for the common good.”


Tommy:Yeah. I kind of look at that as the, why. We put a lot of energy towards understanding why are we doing what we do. So there’s some enthusiasm behind that, so at the end of the day we have passion towards what we do versus it’s just a job or just coming in and getting the next task done.


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tommy:I think, at the end of the day most organizations that have longevity are looking for setting that vision of why are they doing what they do, because there’s plenty of things you can do with just mindless, “Lets just get up and get it done.”


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tommy:And move on to the next thing, versus is there a goal in mind at why we’re doing what we do.


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative). I was referring to this a little bit earlier, which was power versus authority, and I’m going to read this. This is the definitions part of this. “Power is the ability to force or coerce someone to do your will, even if they would chose not to because of your position, or your might.” That’s power. “Authority, is the skill of getting people to willingly do your will, because of your personal influence.”


My guilty pleasure, right now, is watching Game of Thrones, and there’s two characters in this that are, Cersei, which is the Queen, basically the not so nice Queen, who has lots of power and coerces people into doing things; the definition of what power is. Then there’s Daenerys, who is the opposite. Where she’s using concepts like freedom and the people want to rally behind her. She has more authority than she does power


Tommy:I see.


Danny:So you’re seeing these two characters come. It’s awesome they’re both female.




Danny:Seeing two people leading up their armies against each other, and boy you route for authority every time. You want a leader with authority. I think that’s one of the things you like to see in leaders, as you and I have developed, which is we want somebody that we would willing have influence over people and is congruent both in their professional and personal lives.




Danny:And that had to be there in order for them to have authority. So he goes through and he talks about, “Will you like to individually think of a person in your life, living or dead, who has authority as we defined it earlier.” Anybody who comes to mind, as far as someone that you run into that has authority. It’s fine if you don’t have somebody. It’s okay.


Tommy:Well, I think … It’s interesting I think you’re think about people that influence you that have a sense of vision that you kind of follow behind, and feel passionate about investing your time and energy to “follow them.”


Danny:And this may help out a little bit. This could be teacher, a coach, a parent, a spouse, a boss. It doesn’t matter, think of someone who has authority in your life. Someone for whom you would walk through walls. Someone who you look at and you’re like, ” Sign me up for that. I want to go …” Again, the whole Game of Thrones. A leader is someone who people would walk through walls for, because of her authority.


Tommy:I know its kind of a simple answer, but I think it has to do with the influence, and influence comes with peoples investment in you over time, and kind of care. I see that in our father.


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tommy:That there’s someone that, over time, has just put in the time to show the care and influence and being present. Those are the people that really have authority in your life that you want to listen to. You want to understand. You want to invest time with. Those are people that are going to make a difference.


Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tommy:In your life. I think there’s a lot of people that you get influence by, but it’s more superficial. That you’re here kind of the Rah-Rah leadership concepts that are shared. Those people will inspire you, but I don’t know if they have authority in your life. I think they’re just more guidepost of those are good concepts to incorporate in what I do, but I think it has to do with the people that have a personal interest in your well-being and who you are as a person. That’s probably one of the strongest people in my life that has authority.


Danny:You’re saying that, because dad listens and you don’t want to [crosstalk]. Hey, dad. Love you. He had the folks do this and they started listing these qualities about the folks, and he’s sort of setting this up for the week. The groups top ten answers were, “The person is honest and trustworthy. They’re a good role model. They’re caring. They’re committed. They’re good listeners. They held people accountable. They treated people with respect. They gave people encouragement. Had a positive, enthusiastic attitude and they appreciated people.”


Tommy:That sounds like Frank.




Tommy:That’s a pretty good list.


Danny:So when the next part, he starts off with the teacher began, “Simply put, leadership is about getting things done through people. When working with and getting things done through people, there will always be two dynamics involved, the task and the relationship. It is easy for leaders to lose their balance by focusing on only one of these dynamics at the expense of the other. For example, if we only focus on getting the task done and not the relationship, what symptoms may arise?”


So he’s saying, there’s need to be a … When you’re leading up, you need to focus both on the relationship and with the task. “Then the key to leadership is accomplishing the task at hand while building relationships.” Getting things done, while you’re building relationship, and doing the two of those things at the same time, is really what leadership is all about. He brings up, and I like this one, the teacher brings up-


Tommy:I think that kind of speaks to, when we talk about the intersection of passion, skill, and need. When we’re looking at things that happen at ThreeWill, things that need to get done at ThreeWill, we kind of fall back on that to say, “Okay, is this person passionate about it?” That’s the care. That’s looking at the individual to say, “Who are they and what do they care about, and what doing to drive them naturally?” Then the skill, is something that you say, “Okay. Do they have the ability to do this? Can I set them up to be successful? Is this some responsibility that allows them to fulfill it through their skill or do we need to wait and hold off and lets some maturity develop before we put them in front of that challenge.”


Then the need is doing something that really has purpose behind it. Something that are tasks kind of fulfill the vision and the impact that we want to make on the client. If you’re looking at all those three things together, I think it really speaks to making sure you got a relationship and making accomplishments in the work that you do. If we just focused on, does this person have the skill and there’s a business need, okay, have them or make them do it? That would create I think a different environment, than saying, “Is there that passion component?” Are all three elements there to make sure that it’s something they want to do and there’s going to exercise their free will. “I chose to be successful, because I’m passionate about it.”


Danny:I think some of the stuff like back from the Gore days of where you’re signing up for things and staying away from the manager, “I’m doing this, because the boss told me.” Is the difference between power and authority. You’re trying to set up … A lot of this book is what you’re trying to do in your organization, is set up the right environment for these things. So you’re making sure that you’re in an environment, you’re creating an environment where authority is what is in … Authority, is the person saying, “I’m committed to doing this. I want to work with others to do this. I care for the relationship with the other that I’m working with.” How do you create that type of environment?


Tommy:I think we’ve also thought about titles and some concerns of, “Lets not get caught up in titles.” We provide titles to be a reflection of what people are doing naturally in their work. But not put a lot of emphasis on that. That way people that are naturally leaders can emerge and not because they been here at ThreeWill for so many years and they kept these check boxes, but they had the passion other people recognize that and want to follow them because of their authority not because of their power.


Danny:Awesome. The next part, I like this. So the teacher says, “To have a healthy and thriving business, there must be healthy relationships with the C-E-O-S of the organization, and I’m not referring to the chief executive officers. I’m talking about the customers, the employees, the owners or stockholders, and the suppliers. For example, if our customers are leaving and going to the competition, we have a relationship problem. We are not identifying and meeting their legitimate needs, and rule number one in business is that if we do not meet the needs of our customers someone else will.” What he goes through is each one of these customers, owner, owners, employees, suppliers, is about identifying meeting their legitimate needs and developing that relationship with them.


He goes through and says, “Now, if you fall apart on this one …” This is sort of … When I think about this as a supplier, we look at our clients, if they’re treating us like vendors and like we’re not, there is no relationship. Where it’s just you go do this task and I’ll pay you what minimal amount I can for this task, and there’s no relationship involved. We see this as, “Oh, there’s a problem here. This is not the right type of client to work with.”




Danny:So I thought that was kind of interesting as well. It says, “If relationships are so important in organizations and in life, and I happen to agree with you. Then what do you believe is the most important ingredient in a successful relationship?” What do you think his response is? It starts with a T. Trust.




Danny:It says, “Trust.” Trust. It says, “Without trust it is difficult if not impossible to maintain a good relationship. How many good relationships do you have with people you do not trust?” This is where the whole making and keeping commitments comes into play with us. How do you build trust?




Danny:How do you start to develop trust.


Tommy:Especially with our new customers; you don’t have a relationship yet. So how do you build that trust and I think we’ve talked about giving them the experience that we’ll provide through the full life cycle of the relationship, mainly in the delivery life cycle. Give that experience up front. When you’re in the sales process, the relationship building process, you are making and keeping commitments. You’re setting some vision, some steps along the way in showing them we are making those accomplishment along the way. Just like Sprint, cycles give you a feedback loop of, “Okay, we’re on track. We actually finished these items. They are done, and we plan to get some of the items done and we’re on track. Or maybe we’re not, and what do we need to do to get back on track?” I think people want that. At the end of the day they want their problem solved, and they are not going to blindly trust you, that you’re going to do that. You have to show that we’ve got a way of working with you. That we’ll make you feel comfortable; that there’s predictability in solving the problem.


Danny:It’s funny we’re mentioning Sprint, and sort of what that whole process when I think of the retrospective. When we were talking earlier about building developing character leadership skills and this whole idea of setting a foundation, providing feedback, and providing friction. I sort of relate that to, start, stop, and continue. How do you build into what you’re doing in a way of improving what you’re doing? Usually, on a project you may be refining how the process or maybe improving communication or doing things like that. What is it? Talk about creating an environment, you have to create in that environment a way of feeding things back into it as well and providing a way that the team can do it, and also clients can do it, and that’s really important.


This has officially become a two-part podcast.


Tommy:I was going to say, it looks like we’re already on 25 minutes here.


Danny:So we are going call it quits for now. I only got to chapter two.


Tommy:I was looking at it and was like, we’re about a quarter way through.


Danny:We’re going to call it quits.  We’re going to call it for this week. Maybe a three-part podcast, who knows. But we’ll call it quits for now and we’ll start to cover the rest. I’ll give you some time to process this.




Danny:And then we’ll come back and pick back up with the old paradigm, a good Stephen Covey word, and we’ll talk through that as our next step from here. Thank you everybody for taking the time to listen. Thanks dad for listening.


Tommy:Yeah. Thanks Danny.


Danny:For sure. Absolutely. Obviously, there’s a lot to develop this but we’re just getting started with it. Hopefully, folks will check back in for the next podcast as well. Thank you, Tommy, for doing this.




Danny:Everybody have a wonderful day. Take care. Bye. Bye.




Additional Credits

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

Danny RyanDiscussion about The Servant by James C. Hunter – Part 1 of 3


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