Leading from the Heart: How to Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Those Around You

Leading from the Heart: How to Bring Out the Best in Yourself and Those Around You

Your success depends on how well you can serve your team. This episode explores how you can shift to a more human-centric leadership style, why it’s important and the 1 indispensable tool that all leaders need.

If you are a leader, manager or aspiring leader here are two facts to consider:
  1. According to a Gallup survey, the primary characteristic that Millennial and Gen Z job candidates are looking for in an employer is that they “care about their employees’ well-being.”
  2. More than 46% of the workforce is made up of Millennials and Gen Z — and that percentage will continue to rise.
Your success depends on how well you can serve your team. This episode explores how you can shift to a more human-centric leadership style, why it’s important and the 1 indispensable tool that all leaders need. Johnson is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Johnson Leadership Group, LLC.  He speaks and coaches in order to encourage audiences to live out their gifts and dreams. Kevin is a best-selling author of eight books and the contributing author to an additional seven books. As a current radio, and former television, co-host, his books have earned 31 literary awards. Gayle King, an editor-at-large for O, The Oprah Magazine praised his work, writing to him that “Your book, Kevin, touched me.” In September 2019, he penned the Amazon.com Best-seller (2 categories) titled: Leadership with a Servant's Heart: Leading through Personal Relationships.    

[00:00] Kevin: It’s not unusual that we look to the left and we look to the right, and we think workers getting things done, performing, producing, and all of that is true, right? Because in exchange we get a paycheck and we get benefits. But when it’s all said and done, people have issues, they have concerns, they have circumstances and situations that they’re dealing with. And if we can meet them on a human level now we’re talking about being a servant leader. It’s not weakness at all, it’s not being a doormat at all. We still hold people accountable, but we’re demonstrating that we give a care that they have shown up.

[00:47] Bobbi: Welcome to UnYielded: Thriving No Matter What where we talk about how to make your next chapter in life your best chapter. I’m your host, Bobbi Kahler, and I believe that the best is yet to come. Hello, everyone. Welcome back. Today we are going to be diving into one of my favorite topics servant leadership. This is a way of being and it is not reserved for those in formal leadership positions. As you’ll hear from my guest, Kevin Wayne Johnson, we have the opportunity to be a leader in all facets of our lives. Make sure you stick around until the end when Kevin shares the one indispensable tool for leaders, no matter if you are a quote unquote leader or not. A little bit about Kevin before he joins us. Kevin is the founder and chief executive officer of the Johnson Leadership Group. He speaks and coaches in order to encourage audiences to live out their gifts and their dreams. He is a bestselling author of eight books and the contributing author to an additional seven books on the topics of faith, leadership, blended families, finance, writing, and global book marketing, all since 2001. As a current radio and former television cohost, his books have earned some 31 literary awards. Gail King, an editor at large for O, the Oprah magazine, praised his work, writing him a note saying, your book Kevin touched me. In September 2019, he wrote the Amazon bestseller Leadership with a Servant’s Heart. Leading through personal relationships, this book has earned eight literary awards in 2000 and 22,021. He has since followed that book up with his second book in the Leadership series. And to date, that book has earned three literary awards. Kevin, welcome to the show.

[02:47] Kevin: Thank you. Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here. I’m grateful for the invitation.

[02:51] Bobbi: Well, I’m looking forward to it. I think this will be a great topic to explore. But before we jump into it, because we’re going to be talking about servant leadership before we jump into it, you have such a rich background. Would you share a little bit with our listeners?

[03:06] Kevin: Well, I’m a native of Richmond, Virginia. That’s my hometown. My paternal side and my maternal side go all the way back to my great grandparents, and the majority of them are still there. I got away but many of them are still there. My dad is a Marine. He was the oldest of seven children. Wow. And my mom worked for the federal government who encouraged me to do the same. And she’s the baby girl of four. So they came together, and from their union, they had two sons, myself and my younger brother Eric. Interestingly enough, Eric was born with a mental disability, which taught me a lot about the topic that we’ll be talking about today around servant leadership, learning about that in the home, to be his advocate, to be his negotiator, to be his supporter and protector. And then being from Richmond, Virginia, I stayed home and I attended Virginia Commonwealth University after high school, school of Business VCU back then was just a very small university. Now it’s nationally known for a lot of great work that they’re doing. But I had an opportunity to go through their school of business and study business administration, finance and economics. And that was really the foundation to start a career with the federal government, of which I stayed 34 years. During that time, I met another young lady who also attended Virginia Commonwealth University. We fell in love and got married. That was 30 years ago. And from our union, we have three sons. Our oldest son, Kevin, is adopted. We adopted him at three months. He’s been a real, real joy in our lives. Our middle son, one year after we adopted Kevin, here comes Chris. Chris came into our lives by natural birth, and he attended Hampton University and then went on to the University of South Carolina, where he earned his master’s in Social Work.

[05:12] Bobbi: Wow.

[05:13] Kevin: And then, interestingly enough, this is how life works. So I just shared with you the challenges neurologically with my younger brother. Well, we had a third son 15 months after Chris, and his name is Cameron. And Cameron did not talk at all for his first two years. He laughed and played around and ran and skipped and jumped. He did everything else that little babies and little toddlers do, but he didn’t talk. So we knew something wasn’t right for him to not talk. So right around the age of 24 months, we took him to have a thorough examination and he received his diagnosis of autism. Yeah, here we go again. Right. I had two options as a father, right? Get upset, mad, here we go again. I’ve already lived this life. Or do what a dad is supposed to do and be there and love his son and support and advocate and negotiate on his behalf. So that’s what I did. And he’s been a joy. All three of these guys have taught me a lot about what it means to be a leader right there in the home that I could take into the workplace and take into the community. So that’s a little bit about Kevin Wayne Johnson. I’m also an author and certified leadership trainer and coach and mentor. I have a ministry background. I’ve served in the local church as a deacon, as an associate pastor, and as a senior pastor and still doing some work in pastoral ministry. But now that I’m retired, I don’t lead a church, but I help other leaders that lead churches. So it’s been an interesting journey, lots of fun. I’m continuing to smile, and I’m looking forward to having this conversation with you.

[07:02] Bobbi: Yeah, I love that. Now, how old is Cameron now?

[07:06] Kevin: He’s 25.

[07:07] Bobbi: 25?

[07:08] Kevin: 25. Yeah. He’s the baby boy. His older brother is 26 and his older brother is 27.

[07:13] Bobbi: Man, they’re so close in age.

[07:15] Kevin: Yeah.

[07:16] Bobbi: God. Wow. And now hey, what were some of the different roles that you had in the federal government?

[07:22] Kevin: Well, I started out in the area of acquisition, contracting, and procurement. I was part of the team that’s responsible for acquiring the goods and services that the government agencies need to fulfill their mission, vision, and core values. So I started out with the Department of Defense, more specifically the Defense Logistics Agency, which is one of the many agencies under the umbrella of the Department of Defense. About halfway into my career, probably year twelve, year 13, I transitioned to the Department of treasury, still doing the same line of work, but sort of in a different capacity. And then the last 14 of my years of my career, I came back home to the Department of Defense, but then I sort of matriculated into a different field. I’ve done work to support the military personnel. I was part of the senior leadership team that stood up our nation’s newest military command, the US. Cyber Command in the state of Maryland. And I’ve had a chance to serve as a chief of staff and some other roles as well once I left the acquisition field. But I was there. I did that work for 25 years, my 1st 25 years. And then the last portion of my career, I moved out into some other areas, all of which were very fulfilling, very rewarding, and I had a great time.

[08:50] Bobbi: Yeah, man, so much variety.

[08:54] Kevin: Yeah, absolutely.

[08:56] Bobbi: So why servant leadership? Why does that mean so much to you? Well, first off, let me start with what it is for people who may not be familiar and then why yeah.

[09:06] Kevin: So many of the listeners I know have heard the term, but probably from a number of different perspectives, from different speakers, different trainers, different leaders, because it means something different to different people. But for Kevin Wayne Johnson, I want everyone who is an aspiring leader and a current leader, regardless of your level, front level, mid level, or senior level, to know that leadership is more than just what we know. As a matter of fact, when you have the title of leader and you’re in a leadership position, there’s an expectation that you bring credibility through your acumen and your intelligence. So being knowledgeable about what you do. And being a subject matter expert is not the end, it’s just the beginning. Servant leadership has more to do with those of us that are leaders in a position to serve the people that we are entrusted to lead. That means providing resources, tools, systems, training and development for each and every person to be the best that they can be. And guess what? They’re all different. Every person that we lead is different. They grew up or have worked or lived in different geographical regions around the country. They have different levels of education, different numbers of years of work experience. They have different personalities, different genders, backgrounds, cultures, personalities, ethnicities. Everyone’s different. And so being a servant leader means that you and I take the time to get to know people and they get to know us so we can serve them and meet them at their area of need. That’s a sort of a long winded definition of how I define it. But it really helps to unpack it so that people can understand the simplicity of it. People tend to make things complicated. That’s just who we are.

[11:15] Bobbi: That’s right.

[11:17] Kevin: That’s why when people always ask me, kevin, what’s the most challenging aspect of leadership? I always say, I’m glad you asked. That’s one of the easiest questions. The most challenging aspect of leadership is people dealing with people, right? And everyone’s different. So that’s how I define it. We want leaders to be able to match what’s in the mind that is the subject matter expertise that they have that brings them credibility for being the leader that they are. And now let’s have it aligned with what’s in the heart. So what’s in the heart comes the respect and the care and the value and the honor that we should have for all people. Because it’s not unusual that we look to the left and we look to the right and we think workers getting things done, performing, producing, and all of that is true, right? Because in exchange we get a paycheck and we get benefits. But when it’s all said and done, people have issues, they have concerns, they have circumstances and situations that they’re dealing with. And if we can meet them on a human level, now we’re talking about being a servant leader. It’s not weakness at all, it’s not being a doormat at all. We still hold people accountable, but we’re demonstrating that we give a care that they have shown up. And when it’s all said and done, that’s just part of human behavior. That’s really what people are looking for. So I took two minutes to kind of unpack it. But I want people to really understand the essence of what servant leadership is. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s not dictating, it’s not demanding, it’s not making people do anything. It’s about meeting them at their area of need so that they would want to have a desire to be the best that they can be when they show up. And it does make a difference.

[13:23] Bobbi: It makes a difference, huge difference. And it’s interesting because for years and years, I taught programs and corporations where I’d help managers become better coaches for their team. And you’re so like choir right here, right? I completely am on the same page with you. It is so simple in that meet them where they are, know what’s important to them. Years ago, I was 18 years old, and I had an area supervisor. It’s kind of a long story, so I won’t go into the whole thing. But there was this thing where I did an outstanding job on one of my shifts, just an outstanding job. And he called me back into his office towards the end of the shift, and I was thinking, oh, my God, what did I do? What I do? I thought I did a good job. And he picked up the phone without saying a word to me, and he dialed my parents number because I was living 8 hours away from home. And my mom answered the phone, and he’s like, Kathy, is Bob there? And Bob was my father. I’m named after my and so my dad got on the phone, and Gary was my area supervisor. And he said, Bob, I’m here with your daughter, and you should be so proud of her. You should see what she just did. She did an outstanding couple. And I was like, I still remember that. I still get emotional about that when I think about it. And it was a couple of weeks after that I had my first performance review with Gary, and he told me, he’s like, you’re going to manage a lot because I was in management training. He’s like, you’re going to manage a lot of different people. And he said, and it comes down to understanding who they are, what they care about. And he said, with you, he goes, I talked to you for five minutes, and I could tell you’re a daddy’s girl, and you want to make your daddy proud.

[15:10] Kevin: All right.

[15:11] Bobbi: It’s brilliant. It’s brilliant. But we miss it because we’re trying to make it a system or whatever. So I love that.

[15:19] Kevin: Absolutely.

[15:21] Bobbi: Yeah. So why does that mean so much to you?

[15:24] Kevin: Well, again, circle back. The overwhelming majority of what we learn and what shapes us and how we move in our places and spaces starts at home. And from the time I was a little boy, Bobbi, I’m helping mom raise a brother who has neurological imbalances and abnormalities going on in his mind where he could not really think and act and process as other children his age because of the mental disability. Dad is a US. Marine. He’s away fighting in America’s wars, and it’s just mom and I at home with this baby and then a toddler, then elementary school. And dad eventually came back unharmed. Thank goodness for that. But he was out for quite a while in some of those formative years. So I had to learn how to defend, how to negotiate, how to support, how to advocate, how to serve him and his special needs because we were all that he had. And it taught me a valuable lesson about leadership. At the age of four and five years old, I’m in pre k and I’m in kindergarten and I’m in first grade and I’m learning how to be a leader because I’m having to take care of my little brother and help my mom raise him. And then the same thing happened going forward, much later in life, I’m well into my career, I was a frontline leader and I’m moving into mid level leadership. And we have our third son and here we go again. I have to do the same process over again. And a lot of what I learned in terms of negotiating on his behalf and helping him and serving him taught me a lot as I matriculated from the mid level up to the senior. You know, if it works at home, it’s going to work in the workplace because we’re dealing with people and people have these basic needs. So that’s why it’s really so meaningful. The other thing that really struck me, Bobbi, is this is something that probably most Americans, not all, but most Americans can probably relate know if you’re different, you’re treated different. And so Eric was involved. That’s his name. My younger brother Eric was involved with Special Olympics and my son Cameron was involved with Special Olympics. And all of these young men and women, they have a desire to be liked and loved and respected and cared for. But because they’re different, they get treated different. I e. They get bullied, they get disrespected. And so I was not going to tolerate that. And so that’s why I’m so passionate about it. Even today, as we speak, when I see people or even when I hear of people, whether it’s a person or a group of individuals being mistreated and disrespected, I usually get involved. And I do something or I say something. Yeah, because it comes from home, strikes a chord. So that’s why I’m really passionate about it. It’s a really interesting topic because when I’m in front of groups of people having this conversation, the eyes open up. They’re like, wow, tell me more. Didn’t think about it that way. And so that’s why our path cross is what I tell people. When we have a chance to train and coach and mentor individuals, teams, organizations on this topic, we get into a lot of rich dialogue just like we’re having right now. Because I’d like to hear from people and their story and their viewpoint. And then while they’re talking, when they take a pause, I’ll just interject a few things in terms of my own personal experience and then we’ll continue with the conversation. So it’s always rich and it’s always fruitful. And it’s all about renewing the mind and just kind of continuing to look through your lens and see the world the way that you do, but with a slightly different perspective is what I tell people.

[19:42] Bobbi: It’s a personal journey. It really is.

[19:47] Kevin: Absolutely.

[19:49] Bobbi: When you do any kind of these leadership programs, I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but I always thought when I was doing them, sometimes you’d sense that people are showing up because they wanted to learn the checklist. It’s not about a checklist. This is about the work you do on you. Okay, so a couple of questions came to mind. First of, like, with your son Cameron, you said as a father, you had a and as a father, of course, you’re unconditional love. I think about because how much older are you than Eric?

[20:23] Kevin: Just three and a half years.

[20:24] Bobbi: So three and a half years. So there you are as a young child. You’re helping your brother. You still had a choice. As a young kid, it would have been easy perhaps to be resentful or like, I don’t want to be doing this, but you didn’t make that choice. I see the look on your face. Tell me about that.

[20:46] Kevin: Well, what you’re saying is a true statement. But guess what? I had to evolve. I had to evolve. I had to learn that, guess what? It’s not about just me. And we’re here really to help others, to use our gifts to help others. And I have the gift of patience. I have the gift of organization, and I have the gift of what I call discernment. I’m able to discern what a person is feeling or thinking without them having to say it, because they don’t realize their body language is giving it all away. They don’t realize that. But it’s through those gifts that over time, I had to come to learn to be patient, and I had to learn that organization has its benefits. And I had to learn that it’s not about me. So that’s why I had that facial expression, because it didn’t start out that way. But thank goodness it ended that way because guess what? I was being prepared for what was to come long before I knew it was coming.

[21:54] Bobbi: That’s right.

[21:55] Kevin: I did not know that this was going to be a wash, rinse and repeat. I thought it was over. And so I started to raise my own family. And this hit me right in the face. And it kind of reminds me, even today he’s 25, it kind of reminds me that sometimes way back in the past, when I was resistant and I didn’t want to I didn’t feel like it. But when it was time to help Eric I don’t have that choice now with Cameron.

[22:28] Bobbi: Yeah.

[22:29] Kevin: And so the question is, Kevin, what are you going to do? And it’s been my joy to kind of step up and be there for him. These children are totally dependent on us, and we have to be there to support them and advocate for them. So fatherhood has been a joy from that perspective, and also with my other two sons as well.

[22:52] Bobbi: Yeah. You said something really I loved all of it. There’s something that leapt out because you said it a couple of times. You learned that it wasn’t all about you. And I think that’s a powerful place when we get to that space. What are your thoughts on it?

[23:11] Kevin: Yeah, and it’s one of those spaces and places that, unfortunately, we don’t get much teaching about it in school, so you kind of have to learn it at home. And if you don’t get it at home, you kind of go out into the world thinking it’s all about you, and you get some lessons that might not feel very good, might be a little painful, especially if you’re thin skinned. But for me, it’s just been a number of invaluable lessons over time that I had to really embrace and align with, to kind of recognize and acknowledge, you know what, we’re here to help others be the best that they can be based upon the gifts that we have. And we don’t get taught that very much, unfortunately. So some of us never learn it, and some of us do learn it, but much later in life, and then others are really fortunate and blessed to maybe learn it as children, as adolescents, as young adults. I’ll give you a quick example. In part, it took a while for me to learn it because it’s just me and one sibling.

[24:27] Bobbi: That’s right.

[24:28] Kevin: Because of his mental disability, at times I felt like an only child because my brother couldn’t relate to me and I couldn’t relate to him based upon his chronological age, because your mind doesn’t work that way. Like Cameron, he’s 25 now, but his mind doesn’t operate like a 25 year old. His mind really operates more like an eleven year old. That’s the neurological imbalance that’s going on in his brain. Conversely, we have a lot of people that we know that grew up in very large families, and they learned much earlier because of a large family, that, oh, it’s not about you. You have to share. You only get one plate for dinner. I know you want more, but this is all you’re going to get. And there’s a different experience, right. An only child has a much different experience than a person that has six or seven siblings. And so that’s part of the maturation process as well. But we don’t really have much teaching that goes on in elementary, middle and high school or in college around this concept, around it’s not about you, it’s really about others. But when we do get there, though, we discover a lot and we’re much better for it. And that’s my story.

[25:48] Bobbi: Yeah, I was kind of chuckling when you said sometimes we’re taught it is all about you. And then you get out in the.

[25:54] Kevin: Real world and it’s like, no, you find out real fast.

[26:01] Bobbi: That’s right. And those can be painful lessons, but you have to learn it sometimes. So if someone wants to be more of a servant leader, and I want to back up a little bit too, earlier you made the connection between home and the workplace. I think they’re so interconnected, right? Because you can be a servant leader at home, you can be one at work. I think it’s who you are, right. Showing up. So it’s not just like, well, I’m not a leader at a company, so servant leader doesn’t apply to me. I think it applies everywhere. But how does someone work on becoming more of a servant leader?

[26:43] Kevin: Well, first of all, it begins with expanding your current horizon of knowledge. So reading blogs, articles, whether they’re newspaper or magazines, reading books, watching a couple of the YouTube videos, you have to become a student of the topic in order to understand the topic and then take your understanding and move it into an action plan, or a plan of action. I have this saying, and we all have it, everyone’s heard it. It’s universal. We don’t know what we don’t know.

[27:25] Bobbi: That’s right.

[27:26] Kevin: And so being the person who is a perpetual learner is what moves you from A to B. And so having a desire to want to know more about it. But then once you know, now, you have to put yourself in a position where you can actually do better. And the doing comes from the action. Now, once you know better and you’re in a position to do better, now, I believe that all of us together and individually can lead better. But it starts with having that unending thirst for knowledge and that never ending hunger to want to know more. Once we get to a state where we’re not interested in learning anymore because we know it all, we have it all, we’re good. That’s not going to propel us toward the future in terms of where we are today and where we’re going. So I just looked up this morning and there’s a brand new app on my phone. I don’t even know where it came from. Brand new app called X. Right? I think this is the company that’s competing with Twitter, and it’s just a testament to how advanced and enhanced technology is from where it started. And we have to be on our P’s and Q’s to become knowledgeable about technology, to be proficient in this world. We can say I’m not interested. We can say I’m not going to do this. We can say I’m not going to participate. But if you do that, you’re going to get left behind.

[29:09] Bobbi: You’re going to get left behind.

[29:10] Kevin: Yeah. Nobody wants to get left behind. So you have to stay up with it. So there’s a brand new app called X, and I’ve been hearing about it, but I didn’t think it was just going to appear on my phone. But it’s surprised. Yeah, it’s a competition with Twitter and it just lets you know that we just have to be apprised and up to date on what’s going on all around us. So it is with leadership. I just firmly believe that we just don’t have enough good leaders out here. And that’s why I’m on a mission to do the work that I’m doing. I believe better leaders not only make the world a much better place, but they’ll make the team that you’re working on much better. They’ll make the organization that you’re working in much better, and it’ll set the tone for the right culture. I believe people show up every day wanting to do their best and wanting to be their best, but people in leadership positions squash their ingenuity and their creativity and their innovation because of how they’re that that’s undeniable, it’s verifiable and it’s validatable in the federal government. Just look at the data from the EEOC. The EEOC? The Equal Employment Commission. It’s not about just gender or ethnicity or culture, but there’s all different types of issues that people in the workforce share with the EEOC around how their leadership is treating them and how things are going and what the culture is like. And it goes way beyond just race and just gender. It’s just basic human decency in terms of how people are not being treated. And they report it. And that arm of the federal government documents it and publishes it. If an entire agency has a workforce of 67% complaining about their leadership, then something’s not right and we need to get involved and try to change that. So that’s why I’m on this journey.

[31:19] Bobbi: Yeah. What are some of the biggest misses with the complaints? Because what are some of the biggest misses?

[31:27] Kevin: Well, some of the biggest misses really gets down to communication. Communication is very challenging and complex for all of us. It’s the biggest issue that organizations have in terms of being able to effectively communicate. You’ve got to be able to connect with the people or the person that you’re communicating with. And just because you said it, doesn’t mean a person understands it. If a person doesn’t understand it, then you really haven’t effectively communicated. So communication to me is way up there in terms of the top of the ladder in one of those areas where we miss and a subset of communication is listening. So that’s a whole nother topic. But if you don’t allow a person to finish their point and you interrupt or change the subject, what happens is that we send a subliminal message to them that what they’re saying is not important and it’s being dismissed. And that leaves a hole in the heart of persons who are communicating a message because to them, it’s important. Every email that we. Send is important. Every voicemail that we leave is important. Every message that we communicate is important. But how does it make you feel when the person doesn’t respond to your email or they don’t call you back from your voicemail? How does that make you feel? And so the person in the other shoes feels the same way. So getting leaders to better understand how to communicate effectively, but equally important, listening. I didn’t say agreeing, but just listening to people, let them get their point out without interrupting and without changing the subject, sends a really positive message to them that their message is important. If we don’t let them complete it or if we interrupt them before they’re done, it sends the opposite message that what they’re saying is unimportant. And now we’re on our way to having people to clam up, not say anything, and be quiet at a time where they probably have something very important to contribute. But because of the tone and because of the posture of the leader, people are less likely to now want to participate. And as a matter of fact, those are the people that vote with their feet. They leave the organization.

[33:55] Bobbi: That’s totally right. The thing on listening, Kevin, oh, my God. When I’d teach the even if I was teaching a sales class or the management class, I’d always say, how important is listening? Everyone says, oh, it’s a ten, it’s an eleven, it’s a twelve. On a scale of one to ten. I’m like, yeah, I agree. And I’d say, how many really great listeners do you know? And a lot of people would sit there and they’re like, I don’t know if I know any. Right, but if you go out there and you ask the average person on the street, are you a good listener? They’re going to say, yeah, I’m a great listener. They’re also a really good driver, and they’ve got a great sense of humor. Why do we not know great listeners if we know it’s so important? Because you’re totally right if we’re interrupting the person or this is always a breakthrough, too, for a lot of the managers, you’re not listening if you’re still looking at your phone or answering an email or an im when the person is in your office trying to tell you something that’s not really listening. There is a great book you’ve probably seen. It came out years ago by Zinger and Fulkman. Did I get their last name right? I don’t know. And it was extraordinary leadership, turning good managers into great leaders. And they looked at the ten deadly sins of leadership. The number one deadly sin was not treating the person with human decency like, hey, how was your weekend? Or if their kid is sick, oh, so how’s Kevin doing? Or that how can that be so hard?

[35:38] Kevin: Exactly. Yeah.

[35:40] Bobbi: But it is. Oh, my goodness.

[35:43] Kevin: Yeah. So that’s a great point, Bobbi. And again, it’s because all the data shows it. It’s because when we show up at work, there’s a heightened level of expectation that’s put on everyone that they perform and they produce because you get a check and you get benefits. Yeah, but what we’re forgetting is that those workers are people.

[36:11] Bobbi: That’s right.

[36:12] Kevin: People with real issues, people that show up to work having just gotten into an argument with somebody at home or dealing with an illness or taking care of elderly parents or having a sick child. And you’re right. An informal conversation, an informal question asking people, how are you doing? No, seriously, how are you doing?

[36:40] Bobbi: Right?

[36:40] Kevin: Goes a long way, and it’s very simple, but it’s so profound, and we’re not taught and trained to do that. Some leaders have it. It’s a natural gift that they have, but by and large, we don’t get much training on doing that. Those are just some of the principles and some of the strategies that we share with aspiring and existing leaders to, again, continue to look through the lens at the world in the way that you see it, but with a different perspective.

[37:15] Bobbi: Yeah, I love that. When you were talking there, Kevin, about it triggered a memory. Years ago, I worked with 21st Century Insurance, and they had a site down in Florida, Lake Mary, and they were always one of the top places in Florida to work and working for a call center, selling insurance and also doing the service side. It’s not an easy job. And the one day I was walking around with the site manager, and he was amazing. A site leader. Every person we passed from Janitors to the people who worked in the cafeteria to agents, he knew every one of their names.

[37:55] Kevin: Wow.

[37:55] Bobbi: And he’d ask a question like, hey, how was the picnic this weekend? He knew them and they lit up.

[38:02] Kevin: Wow.

[38:03] Bobbi: It was one of the most special things that I’ve ever seen in all the work I did. So I love that. Now I want to make sure we have time to talk about your book too. What is it? Servant at heart how humility transforms leaders and organizations Did I get that right?

[38:20] Kevin: Yeah. It’s leadership with a servant’s heart.

[38:24] Bobbi: Okay.

[38:25] Kevin: That’s the name of the book. What you just listed. Is that’s the name of the online course?

[38:31] Bobbi: Oh, the online course.

[38:32] Kevin: Yeah. The online course comes from the content of the book. We have 18 chapters where we kind of break it down and we kind of share with different audiences. But we currently have two books that are out Leadership with a Servant’s Heart. Each one has a slightly different subtitle, but we emphasize the heart when we’re writing because, again, there is an expectation that leaders show up with credibility, and the credibility is in their subject matter expertise, their acumen, and their intelligence. But we focus on the heart because it’s from the heart. That’s where the respect and the value and the care and the honor, the empathy and compassion really come from. And again, none of which are signs of weakness, and none of which give anybody any reason to think that you’re a doormat. We’re just being human as a part of our leadership approach. So they’re available everywhere that books are sold. When you go to your favorite search engine, just type in Leadership with a Servant’s Heart. Or you can just type in my name. I use my full name, Kevin Wayne Johnson. They’ll come up Barnes and Noble, Target, Amazon, all of the different small, medium, large bookstores. We do events with them all over the country throughout the year. And it’s also available in ebook and also available in audiobook as well. And then the companion, Bobbi, is what? You were reading the online course. So we did an online course where people can purchase it, just one price and you get access to the course. It’s yours. So you can read through one chapter today and come back next week and do chapter two as long as it takes. You’ll be able to do that. And that one gets into more around the topic of humility. And that’s where you got that from being humble and not recognizing that it’s not all about us, but it’s about those that we’re serving.

[40:36] Bobbi: Yeah. Okay, so I have to ask you this. Do you help people have more humility as a leader?

[40:46] Kevin: Is that what you’re well, not necessarily help them to have more humility, but more around heightening their level of awareness of the benefits of being humble. Right. Because I don’t believe, quite frankly, that any book, any course, any of our training really makes anyone do anything.

[41:11] Bobbi: That’s right.

[41:11] Kevin: But it does give you enough information and options and motivation to want to make the change. Why? Because it’s all about making a positive impact in the lives of others. And when you apply these principles and strategies, now, you’re making a positive impact. And I believe that the intent of all leaders is to be their best and to do their best, but they don’t necessarily know how.

[41:42] Bobbi: That’s right.

[41:42] Kevin: And so it’s more of a how and a why. More so than, if you don’t do this, then this was going to happen. But it’s about heightening our level of awareness, providing knowledge and education so that we’re now equipped with the tools that we need to be the best leader we can be. I always use the analogy that a car mechanic, a roofer, the lawn maintenance person, and the carpenter, they all have a toolbox, and they all have a myriad of different tools in their toolbox, but they only take the tools from their toolbox that they need to be the best at their vocation. So the lawn maintenance person uses different tools than the carpenter, who uses different tools than the roofer. And I use that example all the time. So different leaders will use different tools based upon what they now know and what they’re aware of, and that’s the difference maker. That’s the benefit of leadership development. Training, coaching, reading books, mentoring. That’s the difference maker. We now have more tools that we can use to get the job done.

[43:01] Bobbi: Yeah, it’s a great way of putting it, because you said this earlier, right? Everyone’s different situations are different. With that in mind, though, is there one tool that is indispensable when you’re a leader?

[43:20] Kevin: I think so. And here’s the one tool. An informal conversation around the thought of asking someone, how are you doing? Yeah, I know. It sounds so simple, and it has to be informal. I don’t want leaders scheduling something on the calendar and somebody walking into a conference room or their office. I want leaders to develop a habit of when they see their people just asking them, before you ask about the project and the due date and the customer ask them, how are you doing? And that’s a difference maker. It really is. Because what you’re doing is you’re showing that you care. I care that you’re here. I value the fact that you’re on our team. I appreciate all that you do to help us to shine. And that’s a five minute or less conversation, Bobbi, that goes a long way in the life of men and women that we’re leading. Makes a difference.

[44:28] Bobbi: Huge difference. I could not agree. Love that, Kevin. This has been amazing. Any final thoughts before we wrap up?

[44:38] Kevin: Well, my final thoughts are I thank you so much for the invitation. It’s absolutely a pleasure to be with you. I really appreciate all the great work that you’re doing and all of your listeners in terms of your format. And I like the conversational style. It’s so relaxing, right? Just to have a conversation, it makes a big difference. But I want to just leave this with everyone who’s listening, and that is to give some real careful thought to your journey as a leader. Whether you’re an aspiring leader or you’re already in the position of leading people, is to take some time to think about them and the work that they’re doing, and not so much just the work that they’re doing. Let me say that one more time. Think about them and the work that they’re doing, and not so much just the work that they’re doing. I know we show up and we get paid. I know we show up, we get wonderful benefits. I get it. That’s what we’re there for. But when it’s all said and done, people do show up with challenges, with issues, with circumstances and situations that they just want to have a conversation with somebody about. We’re not therapists, we’re not counselors. I get it. But just being able to talk to somebody about some of these challenges goes a long way to helping them to heal and to helping them to be the best that they can be. And that includes the work that they’re doing on the job. So that’s what I like to leave with everyone, just in terms of giving it a second thought. We’re not there to be people’s friends, but we can present ourselves as leaders, as friendly and approachable, and it makes a huge difference in the life of people that we are entrusted to lead.

[46:27] Bobbi: Love that. That is perfect. So how can people find you if they want to connect with you and learn more about your programs?

[46:35] Kevin: Oh, yeah. Thank you so much, Bobbi. Well, the name of the company is the Johnson Leadership Group. I’m the founder and CEO, so our website is WW thejohnsonleadershipgroup.com. You can go there and get access to all of the work that we’re doing. You see all the different clients that we serve across the government, corporations, churches, nonprofits, and academic institutions both here and abroad. You’ll see some photos of people that are on my team. Anything at all that we can do to help and support, we’re more than willing to do that. The email address is kevin@thejohnsonleadershipgroup.com. And we have a company policy where we get back in touch with people within 48 hours. That’s a customer service promise that we make to everybody that we work with. So look forward to hearing from you.

[47:26] Bobbi: I hope that you had a lot of takeaways from that conversation. I think it is such an important topic that and I’m not trying to sound Pollyanna here, but I think that it can truly make the world a better place. I also hope that you’ll check out Kevin’s website. The link will be in the show notes as well as his books and his online course. And by the way, if you found value in this episode, I hope that you’ll drop us a quick rating and review as that really helps other people find us. I appreciate you being here. I hope you have a terrific week and that you continue to thrive no matter what.

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