“You make stuff better.”
“It’s a sacred trust.”
“Do you leave things better than you found them?”
“Character in action.”
What are these statements from keynote speaker Jim Hunter referring to? They are all qualities of a servant leader, a topic Hunter covered during a keynote address in Florida last week.
When it comes to leadership, that’s a topic I always devour any information I can get my hands on for. I love attending annual conferences, like the Global Leadership Summit, and reading books from noted experts like John Maxwell, for one. So when Hunter spoke, I was keenly interested in what he had to say as were others in attendance.
Was it information I had never heard before? Not really. But as Hunter said, “I am not here to instruct you I am here to remind you.”
Don’t we all need continual reminders? That’s a rhetorical question—we definitely do, no matter what the topic.
And to a point this whole leadership thing isn’t really rocket science. “People want to work for a decent human being,” said Hunter. Who doesn’t?
Hunter told the audience there is something that keeps all servant leaders up at night and it’s this: “Do my people have what they need to succeed?”
Again, I wholeheartedly agree.
“When it’s time to hug they are first in line,” he said. “When it’s time to get disciplined they are equally relentless. My job as a leader is to help you win.”
I absolutely love that last line. And it immediately reminded me of a quote I have saved in my phone ever since I first heard it at the 2019 Global Leadership Summit. It’s from leadership expert Craig Groeschel: “I believe in you and I want you to do the best work of your life.”
Getting there, as we all know, is never easy.
“I’m going to make you great but there are times you aren’t going to like it,” said Hunter.
Indeed, what if you want an employee to succeed and they don’t? Then it’s time for the tough part of leadership.
“I won’t desecrate the mission,” said Hunter. “Not on my watch.”
That really struck me as well.
Hunter suggests that leaders are getting too soft. “Back in the Jack Welch era you just wanted people to be nice,” he said. “Now you just want people to tell the truth.”
That is something I hear over and over in all the books and conferences on leadership. Employees desperately want feedback and want to know where they stand. A true leader isn’t afraid to tell them.
Hunter’s Servant Leader Model is based on the following pyramid:
- Service and sacrifice
“If 10% of the people in this room change as a result of this presentation that’s a good day,” said Hunter.
Hopefully these reminders will help as you lead—your kids, your coworkers. We are all leaders.
After all, as Hunter says, leadership is just character in action.