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How to Lead with Integrity: With Guest, Guy Rodgers [Podcast]

Episode 86: Michael and Kathryn interview President and CEO of Pinnacle Forum, Guy Rodgers, about what it looks like for business leaders to persevere and grow in their leadership. If you are looking for some encouragement on how to lead and grow your company with integrity, then give this episode a listen.

leader on a boat with rowers


In This Episode You Will...

  • Discover Guy's career journey and his advice on how to lead with integrity.
  • Find out the 3 things you can focus on right now to become a better leader.
  • Learn why the fear of failure can be a dangerous motivator for leaders.
  • Get insight on how community helps break the habits that lead to self-isolation and poor decision-making.
“If you aren't doing life together with other leaders who are peers, in some kind of small community, you are at great risk of not recognizing your blind-spots."
– Guy Rodgers

Take the Leadership Blindspot Quiz

 

References:

Pinnacle Forum

 

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Michael:
              Hello and welcome to HaBO Village Podcast, I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              This is a podcast about helping leaders grow what we call Passion and Provision companies. Those are businesses and organizations that are full of profit, purpose, and legacy. We want you to be able to be equipped, encouraged, and so we spend our time doing this podcast, interviewing people, and talking about those important subjects that we don't always get to talk about. Matter of fact, Kathryn and I oftentimes talk about this, when you're alone with leaders in a room in the evening after dinner or something like that and you don't have to worry about all the pretense of business and people around you, you get to be honest, you get to be real. Our goal is to continue to try and do that on this podcast and have those kinds of conversations so that you can be really lifted up and encouraged and inspired. Hopefully we talk about real issues that don't always get talked about with leadership.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. Leadership can be a bit lonely, so the more that we talk and share and have conversation, the more you know you are not in it alone.


Michael:
              Today we have a guest Guy Rodgers-


Kathryn:
               New friend.


Michael:
              We're a new friend, we got introduced to Guy recently and have started to build a relationship, had a couple of really good conversations with him, and this guy is great. We [crosstalk 00:01:13]-


Kathryn:
               We were actually on Guy's podcast which is called Pinnacle Forum. If you want to hear the reverse of this conversation you can go over there.


Michael:
              [crosstalk 00:01:21]-


Kathryn:
               Should be entertaining.


Michael:
              We're going to talk about that. Guy, let me just... I want to read a couple of things about Guy because this is great. He's had quite a career. The professional career of Guy Rogers spans the education. No seriously, he has been in education, small business, political and nonprofit sectors. He has seen a lot of things from a lot of different perspectives. His various positions have included adjunct professor at the graduate level, vice president of a polling company, and the founder of two political consulting and strategy firms. I'm telling you what, he's got stories galore folks.


Michael:
              In executive leadership roles with state and national nonprofit organizations. He's helped build highly successful grassroots organizations. Get this, organizations with up to 1,000 chapters. This has a lot of stuff and a lot of experience. There's a lot of leadership and a lot of management here. He's a highly successful and sought after speaker. He has spoken a lot in his life and in a lot of great places, and he has been listed in three who's who organizations including the National Register's Who's Who of Executives and Professionals, and is currently the president and CEO of Pinnacle Forum. Guy, welcome to the podcast. Thank you.


Guy:
      It's my pleasure being here. Thank you.


Kathryn:
               We're super excited to have you.


Michael:
              All right, well let's jump in. Today we're going to talk about... we have three themes that we're going to really talk about and see what those are. Kathryn, what are those three themes?


Kathryn:
               When we said we wanted to interview you Guy, we asked you to think about three areas. You've got a lot of experience, you are slightly ahead of us in terms of your career in life-


Guy:
      And age.


Kathryn:
               And that. Which is why you can be so storied in your resume. But we asked you to think about what it looks like to have perseverance in business, that was the first one. Because we're assuming you have some stories and some moments where you really just didn't want to keep going, and we'd love to hear a little bit about those kinds of moments and how you pushed through. We also wanted to hear from you. We'll do all three and then we'll come back and [crosstalk 00:03:30]-


Guy:
      That'd be good. Yeah. Why don't you do that?


Kathryn:
               How you maintained and continued to maintain your values with your company goals of being profitable and growing. When we talk about Passion and Provision, we talk about maintaining values and still making a profit. We want to talk a little bit about that with you, and then we want to be able to wrap up with what you see as the top one to three challenges, frustrations, or concerns that you see in the leaders that you're working with and some advice for how you help them overcome those.


Michael:
              Yeah, and I want to jump into perseverance. All right, Guy. First off, what's the first moment you remember in your professional career that you had to actually draw on whatever this thing was with perseverance at a young age?


Guy:
      It was 1986, I lived in Iowa, and I had been asked to take on the role of a legislative liaison, or commonly called lobbyist. For a-


Kathryn:
               Legislative-


Guy:
      I liked legislative liaison better-


Kathryn:
               It sounds so much-


Guy:
      ... because it sounds more professional-


Kathryn:
               It does.


Guy:
      But it was a coalition of homeschool and private school groups in Iowa, and there were some laws in place that were making it difficult for them to be able to actually function in their school settings. I'd never done this before. Matter of fact, I turned them down when they came to me because I said, "I've never done this before." Here I am wading into waters that are totally uncharted for me, and I got some tips from some people I knew and one of them was, "Go sit down with the speaker of the house, Don Avenson and tell him what you want to do and get his reaction."


Guy:
      I made an appointment with him, drove up to Des Moines, I lived in Southwest Iowa at the time. Don Avenson, who recently passed away in 2017, he was a very intimidating man, both in his presence and in his physical. He was bout six foot, I don't know, six foot five, six foot six, big guy. He was an intimidating speaker of the house and here I am, this guy that had never done this before. He brings me into his conference room and he sits down, he says to me, "Guy, what are we here to talk about today?" I told him. He got up and said, "Don't waste my time," and walked out the door.


Kathryn:
               Nice meeting.


Michael:
              Well, that's encouraging.


Kathryn:
               Okay, that went well.


Guy:
      Here I am. I'm just sitting there I'm going, "Now what do I do now?"


Kathryn:
               Oh my gosh, that's hilarious.


Guy:
      There's a long story involved in that, but at the end of the day what ended up happening is, we have been able to win over some other leaders. The Des Moines Register, which are not typically friendly to those kinds of organizations, actually editorialized on our behalf. I'm going to tell you, it was a wild five months. But at that moment I was at a place of great discouragement. I was at a place of, "What do I do next?" There's something in me that I first have the discouragement and then I go, "No, I can't go there." I've seen many of those in my life, but that was the one that popped into my mind first because it was early in my career and it was totally unexpected, and I was totally inexperienced.


Michael:
              Did you find that later on in years you reflected back on that? Or was that one of those memories that just faded and you didn't think about it much?


Guy:
      Oh no, I reflected back on that frequently, because I would remind myself of this. I would go through the whole process in my mind and go, "Okay, I could've stopped that day." I could have gone back to the leaders of this coalition, said, "This is what he said. Let's not waste our time, let's not waste money, let's not waste the effort doing this," and I didn't do it. I now realize one of the reasons I didn't do it, and it's actually not a real good reason, but my guess is that many of your listeners have this same motivation in them, and that is a fear of failure. I've realized, just in the last several years, that so much of what I did during my career was motivated by a fear of failure.


Guy:
      People have a fear of failure. There's two extremes in how they respond. On the one end, it's the, "I'm not even going to try." I had students like that when I was a high school teacher. If I don't try, then if I fail, "Hey, I didn't fail because I didn't try." Then there's the other extreme, and this is what motivates a lot of Type A's, a lot of alphas, a lot of high performance type people in leadership. That is, the fear of failure is so great deep inside that I do everything I can not to fail because it hurts too much to fail. That's a strong motivator.


Michael:
              That's a-


Guy:
      It is.


Michael:
              Well yeah, it keeps you moving, doesn't it?


Kathryn:
               It does.


Michael:
              It accomplishes a lot of things with, sometimes, a fair amount of a wake behind you.


Guy:
      It does accomplish a lot of things, but I remember how I felt in the early years of my political world and I was working on a presidential campaign. We had just won this major victory. I mean, I'm talking about, the week before, you don't sleep at all. Work days at a time. You're just going on caffeine and Oreos [inaudible 00:08:46]. Then you get to the point where you win. I remember that feeling, I should be jubilant, I should be overjoyed. You know what I felt? Relieved. It was the first time I realized that what was motivating me was that fear of failure, but it's taken me about three decades to get to the root of why that was there. I would say to anybody who's listening, if that's what you're dealing with and that's what's motivating you, yeah, it'll get you success, but it won't get you joy.


Kathryn:
               That's a really good point. Have you experienced failure where you actually didn't succeed, you actually failed in something and had to come to terms with how that impacted your sense of self, your sense of identity? Have you hit those moments?


Guy:
      Of course I have. What I find myself doing is getting into beating myself up. "What could I have done differently? What could I have done better?" I remember as a campaign consultant, it was my first year of doing this, it was 1994. One of my clients was running for Congress and we lost by 301 votes. It was the closest congressional race in the country in 1994, and I spent nights thinking about, "What if I had done this? What if I had done this? What if I had done this?"


Kathryn:
               How did you recover-


Guy:
      Eventually-


Kathryn:
               ... from that?


Guy:
      You get over it. Eventually get over it. There has to be some sense of where you can look in the mirror and go, "Did I do my best? Did I do everything I thought I could do at the time? Okay," and live with the fact that failure is not a failure if you learn from it.


Michael:
              Yeah, and that's good. Let's go back a minute to joy.


Kathryn:
               That's a really good comment-


Michael:
              Because you talked about joy in that comment, "It'll get you success, but it won't get you joy." Unpack that a little bit for me. A lot of our... Obviously, or maybe it's not obvious, Passion Provision, people are thinking about that anyway. It's one of those themes that we have, but how do you talk about joy and dig a little bit, unpack that comment a little bit more for me.


Guy:
      Well, if we're in a place and what we're doing, wherever we are, business, nonprofit, whatever we're doing, and we're doing it for the right reasons. We're not doing it because we're trying to prove something to somebody. I don't want to get too much in psychology here, but a lot of us guys are trying to prove something to our fathers even though we don't realize we're trying to prove something to our fathers.


Michael:
              Absolutely.


Guy:
      To get to that place where we really can experience the joy of accomplishment without being prideful, I think we have to look in the mirror and face those demons, and look at those and say, "Okay, why do I feel this way? Why do I feel the sense of I'm relieved instead of joyful? Why do I feel this way when I come up short that, boy, I beat myself up. A lot of that does emanate from things that are deep inside of us, wounds. Again, I don't want to get too much in psychology here, but this is real, we live with them. There was a study of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies done a few years ago. I remember reading a short synopsis of it and the thing that struck me was, they asked these CEOs the question, "What is your greatest fear?" And it was, "To be found out that I'm really not as good as people think I am."


Kathryn:
               My brother used to say that he always feared, and he's the pastor of a really large church, that somebody would walk into his office, look at him and go, "You here, you need to get back to McDonald's where you're qualified." That absolute fear of being found out, "Everybody thinks I know what I'm doing, and oh my gosh, I really don't." It's very real for leaders.


Guy:
      Kathryn, let's tie that to the fear of failure. If I fail, they're going to find out.


Kathryn:
               Exactly.


Guy:
      I can't let that happen because my whole self image is tied up into what? Performance-


Kathryn:
               Yup, succeeding.


Guy:
      ... and trying to prove something to somebody. I thought that I was free of this, because I had been dealing with this. My father was all-state athlete in high school. He was a great athlete in his 40s and he would still take us out and play sandlot tackle football with teenagers and he'd still runs circles around them. I thought over the years that I'd gotten over through this, having to perform for my father. Then it was 2001 and my wife and I moved into our, what we called our dream home. This is where we're going to end up living the rest of our life. It was in the area of Virginia Beach, it was on this beautiful tidal creek, it was a custom built home. Okay, we've arrived. I remember it was all built, and I'm standing out in front, I'm looking at it, and all of a sudden this thought pops up, "Dad never had a house like this." Where did that come? Seriously?


Guy:
      Yes. I think when we talk about issues like perseverance, we can persevere for the right ways, we can persevere for the wrong ways. Persevering for the right ways, how this helps others. For my customers or my employees or whatever involved in, how this helps them, how this serves others. How this helps make a more flourishing culture. If we're persevering for those ways, then when we actually achieve, we can experience the joy of that. If we're persevering for ways of having to perform, try to prove something to somebody, there's always going to be that hollow feeling there. Always.


Kathryn:
               That's really good.


Michael:
              That's really good. Let this lead in, I think really well, to that second question or that second topic of, okay, so you're in this place where we're talking about perseverance, but we're talking about success, we're talking about how we perform. How do you hold on to your values in the midst of all this?


Guy:
      [crosstalk 00:14:38]-


Michael:
              How do you make sure that this doesn't get away from you and your performing, and then all of a sudden you're out in left field and you're like, "How did I get here?"


Guy:
      Well, I think the first thing is, do you have your values so well enunciated and understood that you literally have them on a piece of paper, or you have them on the wall of your office, what the main ones are. You can look at those and remind yourself of, "Why am I here? Why am I doing this?" I would say to your listeners, if the top value is just to make money, then what's going to happen is you will do things to cut corners. Because if that's the thing that's motivating you more than anything else, you'll do things to cut corners to get there.


Michael:
              Okay, let me ask this. In your life, you've had a lot of success. You've been able to rub shoulders with some very influential people, correct?


Guy:
      Yes.


Kathryn:
               He's built a dream home.


Michael:
              He built the dream home that dad never had.


Guy:
      Which we ended up selling a few years later, and I moved like four times since then.


Kathryn:
               There you go.


Michael:
              Here's the question I have. When you're giving advice to all of us right now, to Kathryn and I and anybody else who's still fully engaged in their careers, still growing in influence, what were the habits you had? How did you make sure that you were keeping yourself in check on a daily basis? I mean, one of the things you mentioned just having values on the wall, but what else did you do? What did you do to keep yourself centered and then did you slip?


Guy:
      I think one of the highest values we can all hang on to is integrity. If we look at that and go, "I am going to live a life of integrity no matter what the pressures are to do things other than that," here's what happens. When we are faced with those difficult decisions of, "Well, I'm really stuck here. I could go this way, but I don't know. People are going to get hurt by that," or, we could potentially... the company would get hurt by that and we do not make that decision. We hang on to integrity. Here's what this does, you mentioned the word influence. That is what helps produce influence.


Guy:
      We talk a lot about how we use our time, how we use our talents, how we use the treasure, the money that we have, and how we use our influence. I think influence is one of the most important of those four if not the most important. You can spend a life building a track record of influence that is built upon integrity, that is built upon trustworthiness, that is built upon when you do business with people, that's the record you have, and you can have one decision that can topple all of that. We see that happen, don't we? In the business world, in the political world, in the world of pastors, you mentioned the pastor.


Guy:
      We see these falls from grace, so to speak. It's hard to get the influence back. What I would say to a 40 something who's listening to this and they're climbing that ladder and they're getting to the pinnacle of what their career is, is, "Remember, how you influence is far more important than anything else." Because that means you're influencing the people who work for you, if you have a company, you're influencing colleagues, you're influencing other people who are watching what you do. When we see people who get the awards often in business and things like that, that's often what is the most prominent thing about them. People who did it the right way, and people who influenced others to do it the right way.


Michael:
              Let's take a left turn real quick. Let's talk about Pinnacle I think. This is a really good lead-in between topic two topic three. Talk to us about Pinnacle Forum. That's really the big baby in your life right now, right?


Guy:
      Correct.


Kathryn:
               President and CEO, so definitely [crosstalk 00:18:35]-


Michael:
              Tell us about how you started it and what is Pinnacle Forum. Then how did you start it? What pushed you in that direction?


Guy:
      Well, I didn't start it. I came here four years ago and the reason I did was because [crosstalk 00:18:48] many different expressions over the last 35 years as you noted in my bio. But the driving force of that has always been how to have an influence on culture in a positive, constructive way. I worked in the political world for that reason. I would work with candidates who wanted to change the environment, the climate, in Washington. When I worked for some of these grassroots organizations it was the same type of thing. I worked with a lot of leaders, and I did a lot of leadership development because I was helping grow leaders too.


Guy:
      Pinnacle Forum's motto is, transforming leaders to transform culture. It really is all about how we as individuals personally, how we live our lives and how we influence others. Pinnacle Forum was started over 20 years ago to recruit, to find Christian leaders who would be serious about, "How do we help to create a more flourishing society around us?" These could be business leaders, they could be leaders in government, education. That was so attractive to me that when I saw the opportunity, it was June of 2015 I was doing consulting work at that time.


Guy:
      But that was so attractive to me that, more than anything else, when I contacted them said I'm interested it was, here's an opportunity to take all those years to experience, and put this here in a place where now you're working with leaders who are... I mean, we're talking people who've owned professional sports teams, we're talking people who have been former professional athletes, we're talking to people who have been at the pinnacle of business who are in this network. I would have an opportunity to have influence over that with these people and help them be better at what they are? Wow.


Kathryn:
               Yes please.


Guy:
      Who could not want that.


Kathryn:
               Yes, please. That's awesome.


Michael:
              How many leaders are involved in this? How large is the community?


Guy:
      It's not real large. The total number of people that are involved is about 550.


Michael:
              That's still-


Guy:
      It's not a huge organization.


Michael:
              No, but it's still a significant amount of leaders who care. I'm always fascinated and encouraged when we discover these, because I don't think leadership organizations that have those core values that you talked about are easily found. It always encourages me when we find them. Thank you for your work on that and your commitment to that. Let's talk about this. With your exposure over the last, five years you said?


Kathryn:
               Four.


Michael:
              Four years?


Guy:
      Four years.


Michael:
              What's your exposure? When you look at these things, and you work with these leaders, what are those top one, two, three challenges, frustrations, concerns that the leaders are trying to run when they're trying to run their healthy companies, and to see the things flourish. What are those big, the biggest obstacles they're running into?


Guy:
      The first one I would say, and I think sometimes leaders don't even recognize this, is creating the right culture.


Michael:
              [inaudible 00:21:48], you say you're not even sure they recognize this. They don't recognize that it's needed, or they don't recognize that that's actually really what they're trying to change?


Guy:
      I think there are leaders who don't recognize it's needed. I talked to a gentleman who I interviewed on my podcast and we were talking about this very thing. He said that they would go in and do management consulting in organizations and would find that they were trying to implement a change in their business plan, their strategy, and didn't recognize they needed to implement a change in their culture. They could create a great strategic plan and a business plan, but if they didn't change the culture in the process of this, they would not be able to execute the business plan, the marketing plan, and so on.


Guy:
      This is changing. I think more and more leaders in all sectors of American society are beginning to really understand that the culture that you have is actually more important than even your strategic plan. Because you can't implement a plan without the right culture, and the culture emanates from the top. It's a... Let's look at athletics for instance. I'm a big college football fan-


Kathryn:
               I'm a big NFL fan. I'm sorry. It's NFL. If it's not the NFL nobody cares.


Guy:
      Well, and I get to see a Green Bay Packer game at Lambeau this fall for the first time, and I'm a lifelong Packer fan-


Kathryn:
               I'm such a Packer fan.


Guy:
      That's off my bucket list.


Michael:
              Tell Aaron we said hi.


Guy:
      I will do that. By the way, his last name's spelled like mine. Aaron Rodgers looks a lot like my son, so I think there must be something in our ancestry that connects us-


Kathryn:
               I'm sure.


Michael:
              Oh, like that-


Kathryn:
               I'm sure.


Guy:
      Like I said, big college football fan. When you look in the college football world, you see some coaches that are successful everywhere they go. Urban Meyer started at Bowling Green, then he went to Utah, then he went to Florida, then he went to Ohio State. Everywhere he went he turned programs around, created flourishing winning programs. Why? Because he created a culture in his leadership with his staff and his players that produced a winning type of culture. It's same thing in business. If you look at a company and you see that, "Wow, it just seems so dysfunctional," there is a dysfunctional culture and it emanates from the top.


Michael:
              Yeah, we agree.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely.


Guy:
      For the leaders who were in places where they have the ability to change culture, this is a serious thing to think about, "What kind of culture do I have? Do I have a culture of fear? Do I have a culture of anxiety? Do I have a culture that's just about performance and not about people?" These are the things that as you ask these questions as a leader... That's the first one, the culture. Big one.


Michael:
              I like that.


Kathryn:
               You're singing our song buddy. Keep going.


Guy:
      The second one, within that context of culture, is getting the right people in the right places. You can have someone with a great skill set, and they are really good, but they're in the wrong place. They're in the wrong position, and it's not playing to their strengths, their skill set. You got to do something with that because if you don't, it's going to be a monkey wrench in the gears, and they'll be frustrated and you'll be frustrated.


Michael:
              Let me ask you a question on that one, and as I'm sitting here listening, totally agree. But it occurs to me that it seems so simple. It seems so obvious. Why do you think that's a challenge for leaders to do?


Kathryn:
               Yeah. How do you think people end up in such wrong positions when they're really highly skilled, great people? How does that happen?


Guy:
      I think it happens, especially in bigger companies, because now things go through an HR department where there are boxes that are checked off. "Okay, this person meets this, this, this, this, and this." But, they get in that particular role and there wasn't an interpersonal relationship developed between the people who actually hired them. They come through HR, they get plugged in there, and now they're part of that. It's especially in the corporate culture. I would say if you're a small business owner, or you have the small, not such a big company that you as a CEO can be involved in the hiring, getting into the heart of why this person wants to do this, getting just beyond the interview of the skill set and their resume and so on, helps, I believe, in plugging people into the right places in the culture within your organization. But it takes time. It's not as simple as a single interview, even two interviews. It takes time.


Kathryn:
               Yeah. Even as a small company, we do a very extended interview process. But that's a really good point. Because the other thing I think that happens in those cultures, and in much larger organizations, is people get promoted, again, because they checked the boxes, but they get promoted into positions that really don't play to their strengths, and that also ends up being a challenge. You've got a person who was a great performer, they did a great job, they worked really well at the role that they were in, and then they get moved to a different position, promoted whatever, and suddenly it's a disaster because they checked the boxes, but maybe leading people is not their thing, so you shouldn't have made them a manager. I think that happens too, right?


Guy:
      Right. It sure does. Let's take your example of manager. You could take someone who got into your company, and this person was more entrepreneurial and they were very good at what they did, but you put them in a management role and it frustrates them. Because often management role is more about just that, management. There's a difference between skill set and even culture, and what drives a person between a manager and someone who's in a place where they can explore, they can take risks, they can put out vision. Two different things. Then if we take that manager and put them in a role where, "Okay, come up with a big vision for your division, or come up with..." and that person can't do it because that's not how they're wired. They're wired to be in this place [inaudible 00:27:34], get to manage and maintain.


Guy:
      I had a man say this to me about 16 years ago. He was the president of a company that did a lot of master planning for corporations, nonprofits, and so on. He was working with the nonprofit I was at at that time. He interviewed each one of us for 45 to 60 minutes and came back and talked about what that was. He said to me, "Guy, you are the kind of person that you've got to have a big new challenge every three to five years. It may not necessarily mean you change positions, but it means there's got to be something there and you're not a person who would enjoy maintaining something." Boy, that was a great perspective for me because now that I know that, I understand why I do the things I do.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, that's good.


Michael:
              Was there a third one? Did we talk about the third one?


Kathryn:
               We didn't talk about a third one.


Guy:
      We did two. Okay, I can give you a third one. Just simple communication. Simple communication. Again, I'm going to give credit where credit is due here. I recently did a podcast with a couple and their passion is helping people understand their money personality. They said they've identified five distinct money personalities. Then when they talked to married couples, just them getting to understand that is helpful. But then they said, "But in companies it's very helpful." You've got a CEO and a CFO, and they may have very different money personalities.


Kathryn:
               Usually-


Guy:
      The CEO is entrepreneurial, the CFO is-


Kathryn:
               Almost always.


Guy:
      What's that?


Kathryn:
               I said they almost always have different money personalities.


Guy:
      It's exactly right. Exactly right. But understanding the money personalities and then how you then connect them rather than they becoming conflicting, it's enormously different. That's a process of understanding and the communication. I think, especially as an organization gets bigger, as a company gets bigger, communication gets harder.


Michael:
              Oh yes.


Kathryn:
               Definitely.


Michael:
              Totally.


Guy:
      Because what happens is, people in the front lines are further and further moved from the CEO, the CFO, the COO. How do we keep communicating within this so that people feel like they are valued, they're part of a bigger team, they're not just a cog in the wheel. That's a challenge.


Michael:
              Most definitely.


Michael:
              What's the best system you've seen, or one of the most impressive you've seen in a company, that handles that?


Guy:
      Ritz-Carlton, Horst Schulze.


Michael:
              Okay, talk to me about it.


Guy:
      But Schulze, I've seen him from a distance. I've never talked to him, but I talked to people who are in that orbit, who know him, and what they have described in terms of the values that emanate through that company, and how it works its way down from the very top all the way down, it's impressive. Another one I would identify is Chick-fil-A.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, we hear that a lot.


Guy:
      When I walk into Chick-fil-A. You walk in and the person behind the counter, and this is almost without exception, they treat you differently than some of the fast food places you go into. You can tell there's something here that is helping to produce this kind of treatment of me as a customer. They used to say, when you called a company, the person who answers the phone is almost the most important person in the company. Why? Because it's the first impression you get of the company. If that person picks up the phone and they're grumpy and they're... now you've got an impression of the company and it's your first impression, "Don't know about that." Well, same thing when you go into a fast food restaurant, who's the first person you run into typically?


Kathryn:
               Personnel behind the counter.


Guy:
      The person behind the counter.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, and at Chick-fil-A it's like they've developed a culture where the people behind the counter are happy to be there.


Guy:
      Exactly-


Kathryn:
               Which is a really fun thing.


Guy:
      We go back to culture again, and we see how there was a development of a culture. Here's another example, what Cheryl Bachelder did at Popeye's.


Michael:
              Okay. Talk to me about that. I don't know that story.


Guy:
      Well, Cheryl came in, and I don't remember what year it was. She came in to turn Popeye's around. They were really floundering. Again, I'm doing this from afar from people who know her, and I'm working on getting her on my podcast. But as I understand it, one of the first thing she did was gather all the top executives together and they started working on, "What's our culture? Tell me what it is. What do we do with it?" I don't know the details of it, I just know that from afar, but you can see just in the results of Popeye's over the time she was there, she turned it around. She turned it around.


Guy:
      Again, we're talking a change in the culture and whether you're in a company or the athletic world, if you have people that can't fit into the culture where you want to go as a leader, you've either got to say, "Listen, can you go this way? Or if you can't then we need to move on."


Kathryn:
               Yeah. Which is a gift to them and to you usually.


Guy:
      It is. Absolutely. Because they'll be frustrated and you'll be frustrated.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely.


Michael:
              No, that's really good. You look at these things and you say, all of us as leaders want to grow, we want to accomplish our things. We've got visions and dreams of what we're going to actually achieve. It's funny because, at this point in the game for us, leadership is a totally different thing. We talk about leading as actually leading people. But when I was 28 years old, "Well, I need people and I'm going to organize them and get them to do something." But leadership wasn't about taking care of people. Leadership was getting something done and being the guy in charge of the project and we were doing my thing my way, way more than it is now. Now it's finding people that align with it. Now it's just a matter of, okay, how do we accomplish a goal but-


Kathryn:
               But do it together.


Michael:
              Do it together and have the right people on the team.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, absolutely.


Guy:
      That is more and more what we're hearing in terms of how do you develop a healthy culture in an organization, and that's really a big part of that. I would say there's another thing for the leader here. We've heard the expression, it's lonely at the top.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Guy:
      There's a reason why there are cliches like that is because they're true, and they've been around a long time and we could... I mean, a rolling stone gathers no moss. Where'd that come from? Yet when you understand that. You go, "Okay, that makes a lot of sense." It's lonely at the top. What's the message to the leader at the top? If you're in a place where you are not doing life together with other leaders who are peers in some small community, you're at great risk. You're at risk of not recognizing your blind spots. You're at risk of making decisions that don't account for those blind spots. You're at risk of getting lonely and discouraged, and feeling increasingly isolated.


Guy:
      If you feel isolated as a CEO, you feel isolated where you are, that's going to emanate from you into the culture of your organization. I would say to those who are listening... This is what we do in Pinnacle Forum. One of the things is to bring these leaders together in our small communities we call forums for that purpose. I talk to dozens and dozens of these leaders, hundreds actually, in the last four years, and I find it very common that they're isolated. Who do they go to and when their business is struggling and, "My goodness, I'm not sure we could even meet payroll by the end of the year." Who do they talk to?


Kathryn:
               Yeah, sure can't talk to [crosstalk 00:35:08]-


Guy:
      The employees?


Kathryn:
               Nope. Yeah, no, we talk about that a lot too because the reality is, you need people who you can be real with, who understand the challenges that you have, and yet are not directly impacted by those.


Guy:
      Correct.


Kathryn:
               It's a really [crosstalk 00:35:24]-


Guy:
      Because they're not on the side of, they're not a competitor, they're not someone, so they have just... what they have with you in a relationship is, "I want your best, you want my best." That's doing life together and that iron sharpens iron, and that place of, I can let down. I can talk in a community like that and say, "My marriage is struggling and it's affecting my leadership and my business too. What do I do about this?" These are real things that we deal with every day.


Michael:
              Well, and we've been really fortunate because we lived in... when we first got married, we moved to Colorado Springs and, even though we were in vocational ministry, we had a lot of other leaders around us. We had a [inaudible 00:36:03] of leaders. It turned out to be probably, excuse me, about half a dozen that could speak and we all went through stuff. We all... Matter of fact, two of the churches that were a part of ours and another large church, the senior pastors fell from grace in fairly dramatic ways. One was a 5,000, 6,000-member church and ours was only about 150 people. It was amazing how the scale of what happened was equally giant waves through the entire church and how we all walked through different pieces and parts of that and relationship.


Michael:
              Then just watching other things happen, having those leaders and then moving to Chico 20 some years ago, 22 years ago. This community was really interesting because there were a lot of leaders that were already practicing that, mature leaders who were meeting together, coming together and talking and sharing. One of our dear friends, who just passed away, went to be with the Lord, a very, very successful businessman and a man with a successful life, left a great legacy with family, friends about his faith. He was true to himself to the end. We just had the funeral in the last month.


Michael:
              I remember when, probably 15 years ago, and he had a huge project. He was a land developer and they had built a huge apartment complex, beautiful, top-notch, high-end, and he had to put everything he had on the line. Everything he had personally and privately had to be co-signed for this. It came down to the last three days before there was enough to refinance it going from a construction loan to the loan you have in property development that is your long-term loan.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, that gets you personally off the hook, right?


Michael:
              Right.


Kathryn:
               They had a lease-up time frame they had to meet.


Michael:
              I remember the vulnerability for a minimum of a month. That might've been two or three words like, "Hey, the deadline is coming. We're not there." "Okay, it's there." Then we're like, "We're two weeks out." The man is looking at us going, "I-"


Kathryn:
               "I could everything."


Michael:
              "I could lose everything. We're going to pray." I mean that was his answer. "We're going to do everything we possibly can with our minds, we're going to pray together, and we're going to pursue this." It came down to the last two days. The rent-up was there and they were able to shift everything. Watching him depend on people who were other leaders, even us when we were so young in our business and young in life, and watching that example of the community of people coming together every week and talking and sharing. Then knowing that if we need something, there is a half a dozen people easily we could call now and go show up in their office or get some time with them if we're in trouble. I was shocked that so many people don't have that around the world.


Guy:
      Oh, it's actually more common than people realize. I can tie together two Is here. Isolation diminishes influence.


Michael:
              Okay. Elaborate on that a little bit.


Guy:
      What I mean by that is, the more isolated one becomes as a leader, the more likely they are to do something that's going to diminish their influence. You talk about-


Michael:
              Yeah, because you don't have the accountability. You don't have anyone calling you on the carpet or looking you in the eyeballs and going, "Yeah. You can't be thinking that."


Guy:
      That's correct. The thing that is the most devastating to a church is a pastor who has an affair. Devastating. How did that get there? Well, let's say that the pastor is, there's some struggles with the marriage and then one day there is a little closer emotional feel between himself and say his executive assistant. If this pastor was in a community with, say, eight or nine other leaders, if he's being authentic and transparent, he's talking about, "I'm struggling in my marriage." Then the next logical thing is to be honest, say, "I'm finding myself a little emotionally attracted in a way I shouldn't to this executive assistant."


Guy:
      Now there's that accountability there that helps prop him up, not just chide him, "Oh, you can't do that," and be judgmental, but to help him emotionally. "Okay. How can you take a different perspective? What do you need to do with your marriage? Do you need to get counseling? Okay, go ahead. Do it. Acknowledge it. You're not Superman. None of us are." That would help then to prevent that from happening. It can happen in the corporate world, the business world. That's why I tie together influence and isolation. They are really inversely related to each other. The more isolated we become, the greater chance there is that our influence will be diminished in some way, shape, or form, even to the point of totally collapsing.


Michael:
              Yeah. I like that. That's really important, and it's easy to do. Even if you have a small community, it's easy to let yourself get isolated in your small little world and the influence we have for the vision and dreams that we all have for our organization to impact other people, especially as we start to walk into these places of Passion and Provision. The desire to have flourishing life around us and the world to flourish around us. We won't have the reach, we won't have the positive impact if we isolate ourselves and just keep our... even if it's just we think it's keeping our head down and keep moving forward. These are pretty significant things.


Guy:
      I think it's absolutely essential for a leader at any level where there are not... this person is responsible for the success in their division or the performance of their people or just the culture that they want to have to be flourishing. They need to have a community. They do. You need to seek that out, and there are all kinds of them out there. This is one of the things that people are recognizing that leaders have to have.


Michael:
              Are you optimistic right now in what you're seeing about leaders finding ways to get around these challenges?


Guy:
      Well, yes and no. I hate to take both sides of that coin, but yes, I see things that give me cause for optimism. Just be aware, the greater awareness of this. Yet I think we still see in a lot of organizations and companies as we sit on the outside. Let's take the corporate world for instance. Unfortunately there is, in much of the corporate world, the total focus is on the next quarter earning statement.


Michael:
              Yeah, totally.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely.


Michael:
              Yeah.


Guy:
      That focus point is going to create a pressure to do things that may help that quarterly earning statement look better, but don't help the company in the long-term to have the kind of culture that it's going to be able to stay the course. I think we see that with companies that rise and fall quickly. We see it. That pressure is real, and stockholders want to make money, and so I get that.


Kathryn:
               Yeah, and CEOs want to keep their jobs.


Guy:
      Of course they do-


Kathryn:
               They are vulnerable to the quarterly earning statement.


Guy:
      Absolutely they are. Absolutely. To say to them, "Take the time to build a community around yourself, eight to 10 people, and try to change the culture and so on." It's not surprising where that CEO would say, "I don't have time."


Kathryn:
               Yeah. To go all the way back to the beginning, as we figure out how to wrap this up, the fear of failure and of actually exposing that you might actually need help and input and don't have it all figured out, that's very deep within CEO-level type folks.


Michael:
              Absolutely.


Guy:
      Well, to harken back to what I said about that survey of CEOs, that fear of failure has got to run deep and the pressure to perform, my goodness, I think it's like being in a vise.


Michael:
              Well, I think that's probably a good place for us to land. You live folks in a pressure that you do need to perform. You do need to make payroll. You do need to... you have dreams, you have goals, you started a company and none of us want to fail, and we want you to be able to be successful and thrive in that. Today we've had an amazing conversation. Thank you guys so much for taking the time. This has been great. I wasn't 100% sure where we were going to go, and how the conversation goes you never know for sure. But this is great. Thanks for sharing your passion, thanks for sharing your experience, and we just wish you the best.


Michael:
              I found myself listening and I heard you say that somebody told you that every three to five years you need a new challenge and you've been where you are for four years. I found myself wondering, is there a challenge coming up and everything else, or is it around the corner? For whatever it is, I wish you the best in that and hopefully we will continue to follow you and stay in touch and see what that looks like.


Guy:
      Well, I can assure you that there have been some big challenges where I am that we've dealt with, and so I've been able to have that hunger met. It is challenging to deal with Type A leaders, it is. It's challenging to deal with groups of Type A leaders because the way they're wired is, they think independently, they have success. How do you move them all in a general direction? I love what Ken Blanchard said about this. He says, "Leaders are eagles and eagles don't flock." That's so true. In Pinnacle Forum, what we're trying to do is not to necessarily... We don't want everybody to do the same thing, but we want everybody to think in the way of how we as leaders can in fact create a flourishing culture wherever we're planted, wherever we are. Business space, government space, whatever, and what does that look like?


Michael:
              I love it. Well-


Kathryn:
               Awesome.


Michael:
              Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us today. You have heard a great conversation with some great things to think about and talk about and some things to take back to what you're doing in your daily life, especially probably, I think the biggest thing we need to talk about is community, and making sure you have a community of leaders around you. If you don't, and you're thinking, "I would like to have that," start asking around, start figuring out business communities, churches that have organizations like that. Rotary is a phenomenal organization, we've been a part of that for years, but you need to find people of that are like-minded and like values, that have a position of leadership, and you need to be around people like that. I think that's the biggest takeaway from today.


Kathryn:
               Of course, we welcome you to be part of the HaBO Village.


Michael:
              Absolutely.


Kathryn:
               Absolutely. Just like Guy who's got Pinnacle Forum, we have our own community of leaders that's being developed and we would love to have you be part of what we're doing. We're just always going to invite you to be part of that.


Michael:
              That's it for today. I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
               I am Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
              This is HaBo Village Podcast. Have a great day.