Building A Strong Business Culture – Full Episode
- Mark Deterding of Triune Leadership Services, CEO
As part of a third-generation family business, host Jamie Duininck has turned to Mark Deterding for guidance on many important issues over the years. Mark established “Triune Leadership Services” in 2010 to help small businesses build a culture around servant leadership and a shared vision, mission and values. Learn about the positive impact Mark has had on Jamie and countless other business leaders.
Episode 38 | 59 min
Mark Deterding is the founder and principal of Triune Leadership Services. His goal with Triune is to build up servant leaders and transform organizational cultures.
After working in executive positions in nationally known corporations for 35 years, he understands that servant leadership is the only way to lead people and teams to fulfill their God-given potential. As a trusted expert in servant leadership, he has successfully navigated industry-leading companies through culture change — not only as an organizational leader but also as a coach and consultant. Through his “boots on the ground” experiences and training, he brings an effective blend of actionable processes, proven tools, and expertise to guide executives and emerging leaders onto a path of servant leadership; a path that leads to success and significance.
This is The Water Table.
The chance to hear the agricultural side of these issues.
Plays for people to go find information and education.
Water management is just going to become even more critical into the future.
How misunderstood what we do is.
I would encourage people to open their minds and listen to this dialogue.
Welcome to The Water Table podcast. This Jamie Duininck back with you and over the last year or so, one of the things that’s really surprised me in a good way about doing this podcast is the conversations that have come out of it with listeners. And oftentimes the conversation leads to, “Hey, I know you work at Prinsco and Prinsco is a family business and have you ever experienced this?” And the questions coming from another family business, is a large percentage of our listeners are customers and most of our customers on the agricultural side are family businesses. And so they’re asking questions about succession planning, about mission vision values, how do you go about setting those up? Have you done that? About conflict management within a family, or estate planning, all kinds of things that they have questions about that every family business experiences at one time or another. And many of those things… Our family has been fortunate enough to be in business long enough that we’ve experienced them.
And we’ve worked with different consultants that have really been a blessing to our business and our family by their experience and their expertise. So over the next month or two, I’ve decided to take a little break from the pure education on agricultural water management, and move into what all of our listeners and customers are thinking about. And that is some family issues within their family business. And so I’m going to be interviewing a series of guests. I’m going to have a series of guests on that all are experts in their own way in family business, in consulting. And we’re going to just walk through some different topics. And I think it’ll be a lot of fun. So I hope you enjoy this little mini-session we’re going to do here or mini-series on The Water Table podcast. So appreciate you listening.
As I mentioned earlier, we’re going to start something new here, a new series and my first guest today is Mark Deterding. Mark is an author, a speaker, a consultant, an executive coach, and the founder of Triune Leadership Services. His purpose is to work with leaders to help them develop core servant leadership capabilities that allow them to lead at a higher level and enable them to achieve their God given potential. He has written two books, A Model of A Servant Leadership and Leading Jesus’ Way. Over three decades of experience directing companies and developing leaders, mark created A Model of Servant Leadership parallel to the principles that Jesus himself illustrated. Working with organizations, leadership teams, and executive coaches one-on-one, he helps bring focus, clarity, and action to build high performance. He also conducts in-person and online training programs to teach faith-based servant leadership principles. His greatest passion is seeing the impact servant leadership has on people’s lives and beyond.
Prior to trying leadership services, Mark worked for 35 years in the printing industry, holding senior leadership positions at Taylor Corp, R.R. Donnelley and Vanta Corporation. He is an accomplished executive with a proven track record for developing purpose driven, values based teams that drive culture and improvement, enhance employee’s passion and improve business results. He has been featured in Ken Blanchard’s book, Leading at a Higher Level and has been a featured speaker at the Ken Blanchard company’s executive forum in both 2007 and 2011. Mark lives in Alexandria, Minnesota with his wife, Kim. They have two sons, two daughter-in-laws and now six grandchildren. Mark, welcome to The Water Table podcast.
Oh, Jamie, thanks so much. It’s great to be here. Really looking forward to it.
Yeah. Super fun. I’ve known you, Mark, for going on 10 years and we’ve worked together in some capacity and your knowledge and experience that you can bring from your past is just always every time I talk to you, I feel like I can beat the world because you’re so positive and have so much insight. So I think our listeners are going to really benefit from an opportunity to hear what you have to say and the way that you have decided to live your life and to help others live their life through servant leadership.
And you’re a… It’s like preaching to the choir, Jamie, working with you. You are such a model servant leader in the great work that you do. And thanks for all your efforts to just bring this great concept that you have over the last few years on Water Table. It’s just really, really awesome the impact that you’re having within your platform.
Well, thank you, Mark. I talked a little bit in your bio about your past and your leadership, but give us just a little bit more as we step into this, on your background in leadership.
So I came up through the printing industry and started when I was really young. I mean, when you add up the years, 35 years and I’ve been at Triune for 11 and I think what it really speaks is it makes me old, but certainly have had lots of experience. I started basically at 15 working in the printing industry and worked up through the ranks there. I got my education in printing technology, actually with a management and marketing minor, but very quickly just was blessed with the opportunity to work for great organizations, publicly held organizations that took a chance on a young leader every step of the way. I mean, I always felt that I was probably thrown in above my head, but yet they gave me the opportunity. And so by the time I was 26 years old, I was responsible for a printing facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
It was a nationally renowned plant producing Business Week, week in, week out. And then from there, I just continued to escalate to the point where at one point they had probably just under a billion dollars worth of sales and manufacturing responsibility and thousands of employees actually underneath the wing of responsibility that I had. So had a lot of opportunity to make a lot of mistakes and learned from a lot of great leaders, as well as learned from some leaders on how I didn’t want to lead. It’s always both sides of it when you have that opportunity to work for that many years. And then the last 11 years I wanted to really get out and just give back to leaders, if you will.
And so I’ve really focused the last 11 years with Triune and really just helping people, like I say, my purpose to lead at a higher level. And when I say that, to really think about what it means to impact people, utilizing their platform, that they’ve got to do that for their greater good, not for our own, but for the greater good of the people that we’re leading and that is what I believe the leadership’s really all about. And it’s just been a really fun ride for sure.
Well, one thing that I remember from some of our previous conversations and in your story that I think is really neat is, in some of your stops in the manufacturing business and the printing business, you had responsibility for large plants that had a significant amount of diversity. And this is back before that there was so much tension in our world and diversity and you found ways to really bring that team together with so much diversity and tell our listeners a little bit about that. And then, how many different nationalities were in your one facility? I can’t remember what it was, but I know it was significant.
Yeah, no, it’s interesting you bring that up, because that is a great time period where I learned a lot. It’s a time where I actually did engage with Ken Blanchard and his team and some of their great ideas around how to build an intentional culture. And that organization, we had about 700 to 800 employees, somewhere in there and we had 27 different nationalities represented within one location actually. And that was in the early two thousands. And it was just a phenomenal time of learning for me because I had not been exposed that much to that before going down. This happened to be a facility in the twin cities and was just a beautiful thing to really work together with a group of people to bring them all together with a common purpose and a common vision for the difference that we wanted to make within our platform.
And that’s what you really see. No matter where people are from, if you truly just put the focus on people that we’re really up here to advance people forward. We advance both from a team member standpoint and our clients that we’re serving standpoint, that’s our focus. We’ll let the profitability fall where it may, but we’re going to do the right thing with people to really help all of you accomplish what you were born to really accomplish and really help our clientele to do the things that they want to and you just see people come together on that platform and it’s a beautiful picture of our world, if you will, just in a small one organization standpoint.
Yeah. And I asked that question because I wanted to hear the story again. I’m a little selfish on that, but you said a couple of things there. You said common culture, purpose and vision. And it leads right into my next question that I wanted to ask you. And that was, so often in small family businesses or they don’t have to be small, but family businesses that are still in the phase where they’re growing fast and they don’t have a lot of extra people to help do things. The leader, the owner of the company is the guy on the ground doing the work. He’s working in the business and it’s so important to build culture, purpose, vision, which is working on the business more. And so if you can just talk a little bit about why. I mean, I probably just said it, but why is it so important to find time to work on the business and not just in the business and how do you suggest leaders do that when they are working full-time already in the business?
Yeah. What a great question, Jamie. The reason I work with very senior leaders is because they have the biggest impact on the greater amount of people. And also I always say, as certain leaders, we need to start with our foundation. And when I talk about foundation, it is purpose, vision and values, those three key aspects. And if an individual, let’s take that business owner you’re talking about in a small business, if they aren’t just working to get the work out and to, like you say, in the business, that very well may be necessary and so forth. But if you aren’t taking the time to really build that framework of the foundation of what is our purpose for why we do exist, why does this organization exist? What is our vision as far as what we want to create and what are our values as far as how we’re going to behave while we’re on this journey, if you, as the senior person, as the owner of this organization, aren’t framing that up and making sure that that is crystal clear, who is? Nobody is, right?
And so what ends up happening then it can become chaotic if you will, in that people are going to behave however they want, however they feel that they should, they’re going to feel that the vision is one thing that maybe in your mind is not an ownership standpoint, so it’s just so important for all of us. If we even think about it, we take it down to the micro level first and say, “Personally, what is our own personal purpose? Why do I put my feet on the floor every morning,” right? That shouldn’t be left to question. We should really have that clear in our mind. Where is my vision for my own life? What do I want to create for myself one year out, two years out, even three weeks out, if you will? And what are my values? What’s really, really important to me and how I’m going to behave on a day to day basis?
We need to start there, individually and then whatever teams that we’re responsible for the next would be our family, right? So what is our family’s purpose, our family’s vision, our family’s values. Make sure that’s crystal clear. Have that well articulated. Talk about that with your spouse, with your family, your children and so forth so they know and [inaudible 00:14:30] understands that. And you get comfortable doing that in every aspect of your life, well then it certainly translates to the business as well. What is our business’s purpose? Why do we exist in this business? What difference are we really wanting to make? What’s our vision for where we’re going and what are those values? We have to do that as leaders. It rests on our shoulders. It’s not something that we can delegate off to others and when we do that, then people it’s going to be clear for them, “This is a team I want to join.”
PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:15:04]
It’s going to be clear for them, this is a team I want to join. I love their purpose. I love the vision of where they’re going and I certainly am aligned with their values. I want to be on that team. And that’s what you want to have very, very clear because there’s a place for everybody in this world, but there’s not a place for everybody in your particular organization. And when you have that foundation really fully clarified and articulated, it makes all that very, very easy.
Yeah. As I listen to you, I’m just reminded of a podcast I actually listened to in the last couple of weeks and it correlates to this in a totally different way. But it was a guy that has a nonprofit. He works in a nonprofit and he works with kids on character and character development. And he’s talking about his own family and how he’s learned over time that things like, his example was if they don’t make their bed, I’d like them to make their bed, but I really want to make sure the things that really matter, matter. Honesty, loyalty, things that I want my kids to have because they’re really important.
And what you’re saying is the same, whether it’s us personally, our families, our businesses. If we don’t tell them, whether it’s our kids or our employees, this is what’s important. As you said, who’s going to do it? Nobody’s going to. So I was just reminded of that. I thought that was a really good way to say that is I think all of us as parents at times, especially when we’re younger, probably get a little bent out of shape about things that probably wouldn’t have liked them to happen, but are they going to change the trajectory of their lives? And the answer is no. But there are things that will.
Don’t leave those things to chance. And that’s a values thing that you want the legacy to live on. It’s a generational impact that you can make with your children by being that intentional about talking about those core values that we don’t compromise on.
Yep. For sure. So I mentioned it in your bio and you’ve mentioned a couple of times this phrase, servant leadership. And let’s just back up a minute, and for those that are listening that maybe that’s a new term or they think they know what it is, but they haven’t really ever talked to anybody that does lead with servant leadership, and maybe they’ll find out they actually do lead that way. But why don’t you just describe a little bit what is servant leadership?
Yeah, for sure. And again, this isn’t sort of leadership by Mark Deterding. I certainly have had the opportunity to lead for many, many years and to try a lot of things out. And through that, and then really through my study of who I consider the master servant leader, which was Jesus, I really put together a model that I feel that he really emulated throughout his life. And again, no matter what your faith is, if you just take a look at the individual Jesus, taking a senior leadership team of 12 and working with those 12 leaders for basically three years, and then that taking that and growing this following to what is, call it 2.3 to 2.5 billion today, that takes some significant leadership. And I really looked at that model and said, you know what, that’s true servant leadership.
And here’s how I come out on that as far as what he was really telling us. One is, build the foundation. Make sure you’ve got that foundation just rock solid, articulate just like we said, what’s our purpose, what’s our vision, what’s our values. From there, then we want to build energy with the team. We hear the term engagement with our team members and so forth, it’s the whole idea of getting people’s brains in the game and not just their hands and feet. The more we can get people’s brains activated and engaged in what we’re doing, energized about what we’re doing, that’s what servant leadership’s all about. And there’s any number of great ways to do that. One of the ones that I just love to always highlight, the best thing that any of us can do as leaders is to be the biggest cheerleader on the team, right? Is to recognize people for the great work that they’re doing day in and day out. Lift them up, be grateful for them. Let them know how important their work is.
And that’ll just bring all kinds of great energy to the table. After that, the third one is one that often when people hear the term servant leadership, they seem to forget. And it’s performance. We need to build performance. As leaders, we need to be making sure that we are improving every day. Both personally in our own skills, are we getting better from a leadership standpoint? Are we getting better from a technical standpoint? But also as an organization, what are we doing organizationally every day to be better tomorrow than what we were today. If we don’t do that as leaders, if we don’t create that unrest, all of a sudden status quo becomes okay, everybody starts settling in and guess what our competition’s doing? They’re blowing right by us because they are improving every day. So it’s up to us as leaders to be driving that performance, driving that improvement every day.
The fourth piece of being a servant leader is all about building relationships. That we need to be intentional about building relationships.. We don’t do business, we don’t do life in a vacuum all by ourselves. And the better we are at building relationships, the more influence that we’ll have. And so that all comes into, are you a good listener? I mean, where you’re really listening to people because you care about them and want to know what they have to say. Do you truly mutually respect each and every person in the organization? That nobody is any better than anybody else. And the other, it’s those things that absolutely will drive you towards wanting to be in a relationship. And the biggest key in that is this four letter word of love. And you know, oftentimes I say I’ll be at schools and universities talking to their business classes, their MBA programs, about leadership.
And I say, how many times have you heard the word love in your time at this school or university? And nobody raises their hand. And it’s like, okay, well obviously they’ve learned lots of great things about inventory, turnover, balance sheets, income statements, return on investment, all the things you need to know to run a business, but they haven’t learned anything about leadership. Because that’s really, leadership, servant leadership specifically, is all about what’s in your heart. Do you truly care about people at the core? And I lean on First Corinthians chapter 13 verses four through seven on this. It’s where Paul’s talking to the church of Corinth and basically is outlining what love is. We’ve all heard it at weddings. Love is patient. Love is kind. Doesn’t envy. You know, those types of things. I view this as the greatest leadership passages that they are.
And what Paul’s talking about there is not the feelings of love or the intimacy of love. What he’s talking about is the behaviors of love. We have a choice to step into being patient or not, kind or not, humble or not, respectful or not, selfless or not, honest or not, forgiving or not, and committed or not. It’s really those eight behaviors that he’s talking about in those passages, that the more we as leaders step into each of those behaviors, the more our relationships are going to go north. People are going to want to be around us. And it’s a total choice that has nothing to do with how we feel about this individual. Am I going to be patient today or not? Am I going to be kind or not? Humble? So that’s a big part of servant leadership too. And people can see that when you are really working. We’re never going to be perfect, but we can certainly be working towards that.
And then lastly, the whole key on servant leadership, Jamie, is this whole aspect of character. And when I set up the model, I basically put character on top of the model and for this reason. Because if we aren’t people of high character, if we arent the leader that people can trust, guess what? We’re going to look over our shoulder and nobody’s going to be behind us. Nobody’s going to want to follow somebody that they can’t trust, that isn’t of high character, high integrity.
And we do that in any number of ways by lifting people up, by being that true individual that we say we’re going to do. And most importantly, really walking the talk. I mean, are our actions lining up with what we’re saying? We’ve got these values that we say are the organization, are we a picture of those values in how we’re operating each and every day? And that’s character. And so it’s all those things put together. It’s not, you can’t pick and choose and so forth. The only linear aspect of it is getting that foundation put in place. But after that, building that energy, building performance, building relationships and being a person by character, that’s a summary in my mind of what servant leadership is.
Well, you did a good job of that. And you know, as I’m sitting there, I was going to say this anyway, but then listening to it, I’m going to change a little bit around. I think the thing I don’t like about servant leadership is the word servant leadership. Because it comes off, if you don’t understand it, as soft. And it’s really hard, at least for me, because I’m not a very patient person by nature. It’s really hard to show that love as, like you say, the emotional side of love, being patient with somebody that, especially as a senior leader, you got a lot going on trying to get things done. You might have done that job that you’re asking somebody else to do yourself before. So they’re learning and you have to be patient with them.
You have to be kind to them. That is the foundation of it. And I also, as you were talking, I just wrote down a few things around that. As, it’s not soft, it’s hard to be transparent with people. It’s hard to give people clarity. But it’s important. They deserve that. And you know, I think it was you, I don’t know, but you can tell me if it was you, that I’ve used this phrase often as I’m entering a conversation, thinking to myself in my own head around, to be unclear is to be unkind. And again, this is all part of servant leadership. And I just wanted to share that, that those of you that are listening and saying, well this is for somebody that doesn’t have as much charisma or strength as I do. I think the best servant leaders are the ones that actually have the most strength when it comes to being a leader.
There’s no question about that. I mean 100%, it is not soft at all. And that’s why servant leadership over the years has gotten a bad name is that people do feel, oh, that’s just soft or creating this nicey, nice environment that people can come and just have a great time. Well, you’re not serving your folks at all if you aren’t helping them advance forward in building their performance and the organization’s performance and all that kind of thing. That’s where I always talk about, profitability is not a negative thing. It’s totally positive. We need to be driving profitable organizations. It’s the fuel that enables us to accomplish our purpose and our vision. And so it’s, we serve our folks best when we do have courageous conversations, when we do have the straight talk, all that kind of thing. Because you’re doing it on their behalf, for their greater good, 100%.
So, but to your other point Jamie, is servant leadership isn’t easy. If it was easy, there’d be far more servant leaders. It’s so easy to just go out and operate in a positional authority type world where we’re just casting orders. And because I have this title, you just follow my direction. Don’t ask questions, all that kind of stuff. That’s going to govern the organization for how far you can get. And there’s all kinds of great data that says when you truly do operate where you’re getting everyone’s brains in the game, you have a culture of servant leadership, you’re so far going to outperform the rest of the industry, it’s not even funny. But again, that takes a level of trust to step into that and the hard work of truly getting out from yourself and thinking about the greater good of others day in and day out.
Yep. And again, and not to belabor that point, but you said another thing there around the trust side. And if you have a high level of trust, you can have some real candor in conversations. The conversations don’t need to be like we’re having right here. They can be heated. They can be, because you know, you trust the other person. And with that trust brings commitment, you can’t have a , you’ll just get a lack of willingness to have a conversation if they don’t trust you. But if they trust you, you’re going to be able to have a real robust conversation. Which again is, there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s exactly what you want to have to bring clear clarity to expectations.
That’s right. I always say one of the ultimate goals of servant leadership is an atmosphere of no fear. And that’s exactly what you just described, is that we should not be fearful around challenging somebody. Hey, is this really in mind with our values or not? Is this really advancing our purpose forward or not? You know, is that conduct really what we want or not? And that’s an atmosphere of no fear where we trust each other, that we know we’ve got each other’s greater interest in mind and we can have those hard, challenging, direct conversations.
Again, that was a perfect lead in to my next question, Mark. So you had mentioned earlier the first step in servant leadership is foundation. And to me a foundation, and we can dialogue about this if you disagree, but really is, in a business is, the mission, vision, values part of your business. So how does somebody go about that that doesn’t have a mission statement?
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… That doesn’t have a mission statement or doesn’t have stated values, how would you encourage them to just get started on that? Because that can be much more intimidating than it needs to be for people.
No, for sure. And I help people do this all the time and see it and it’s heavy lifting work, it’s not just a layup for sure, where you just show up and throw a few things together and you’re off and running. There’s no doubt. But what I always encourage is starting with individual personal values with people. So if I’m working with the senior leadership team or if you’re a business owner and you’ve got your senior leadership team, what I would do is bring in the folks that are really at the level that they’re helping you run the business, if you will, and talk to each of them about what their personal values are. Have them talk about what’s core, what’s important to them. I actually have them draw a picture first and just say, “Think of this as a poster of what’s really, really important to you. And in picture format, just depict that. What’s really important in your life?” And then have them share that with each other.
And all of a sudden they start to see some consistencies with the group of what really is important to the leadership team, the leaders of the organization. Well from there, then you can bridge from that into what’s really, really important to the business. First off, let’s start with our purpose. When we go to the business, why do we exist as an organization? And I answer three questions, what we do, for whom we do it, and then most importantly, why? And the why part, the why answer to the question is what’s compelling, what brings people racing into work each day. So you might have an equipment manufacturer that says, “Our purpose or our mission,” and I view those two terms as interchangeable, “Our mission is to enrich people’s lives by basically producing integrated packaging equipment that is the best in the world.”
I’m just throwing something out there. Well, when you look at that, you say, “Okay, they’re making packaging equipment, they’re making equipment or whatever, they’re making it to enhance their client’s world, but why did they really exist?” They use that as a platform, they exist to enrich people’s lives. And that’s their employee’s lives, their clients’ lives, their community’s lives and all that stuff. So everything that they do, they bounce off of that as will this enrich lives along the way in what we’re doing? That’s just an example. But once you get that purpose, then you say, “Okay, we’ve got our mission, our purpose, now what are the values that we need in place to support that mission? If we’re going to accomplish this, what are our values? What is going to be core to us?” And that’s where you can really bridge then on the personal side of all the people in the room.
But I always ask the question first is for each person individually, take a look at the purpose that we’ve just developed and say, “So what are the three or four or five values that we need that will be necessary for us to accomplish this?” It defines our culture. And everybody puts those values, you know, on a sheet of paper. And then we go around the room and we list all of them. You end up with about 20 to 30 values on the wall. And then I ask them to do this. “Okay, now that you see everybody’s input into this, now I want each of you to pick your top five from the one you’re most passionate about down to the one your fifth most passionate about, and then we’re going to give that a weighting from the most passionate down to the fifth.”
And we go through that exercise and what ends up come out is next thing you know, they’ve got four or five that have surfaced from that exercise that you start to say, “You know what? That is it.” And then from there, Jamie, once they do decide on what those key values are, what’s really important is defining what that means to the organization and then just equally and probably more important than that is what are the behaviors that are going to show up for a team member that illustrates how they’re playing out that value? And then once you’ve got that, it makes leading so much easier. Again, you talk about that foundation. It’s not my opinion versus is yours. Here’s our foundation of these are our values, these are our behaviors that we say we’re going to do. I always use Chick-fil-A for this.
So Chick-fil-A, they have a value of value in customers. Well, one of their behaviors behind that is I will say, “It’s my pleasure to serve you,” every time we provide them food. They say, “Thank you,” and say, “It’s my pleasure to serve you.” That’s a non-negotiable thing. If you don’t say that, you don’t get to be on the team at Chick-fil-A. And that’s why you can go into any Chick-fil-A throughout the entire nation and I will guarantee you that you will hear that from an associate, that, “It’s my pleasure to serve you.” And it’s because it’s a behavior that they’ve defined for one of their values.
So very, very powerful from that standpoint. And again, back to the original point, there’s no substitute for the time you put into it. It’s heavy lifting. But once you’ve got that work done and you then live those values, you live that purpose every day, you talk about it in every meeting that you’re in, all of a sudden, the next thing you know, you have a culture like Chick-fil-A where when you walk into Chick-fil-A, you know you’re not in McDonald’s or Wendy’s or whatever. Nothing against those, but it’s different because of the culture they built at Chick-fil-A and how you’re made the feel. And that’s what you want in any organization is you want people to know, “Okay, this is where I’m at and I’m really glad I’m here because of how I’m made to feel.”
Mark, I can verify that to be accurate because I just got to be honest with the listeners here, but I made the little trek today. It’s my favorite time by myself. I headed up, did a Costco run, and after Costco, I went over to Chick-fil-A and I heard those words today. So thanks for sharing. Anyway, that’s great. Moving ahead a little bit just around the same thing with mission, vision, values, how do you see if people are thinking about this, and I think you got them thinking about it, “Yeah, I can do this.” I hope that’s what they’re hearing, “I can do this,” because it is intimidating.
But if you spend some focus time, and maybe you got to get a consultant like yourself, Mark, with you. But if you spend some focus time, you’ll be amazed what comes out of that even a day and how excited you can get about that. That is who we are. But to maybe build a little bit on that for those that are still concerned about it, what do you see the best or healthiest companies, how are they using mission, vision, values to run or drive their business that maybe can help motivate others that are still on the fence to really develop these?
That is such a great question, and this is why I get so passionate about this is because I’ve seen the difference that this makes in organizations when they really get this locked down. I say purpose, it’s the light in your eyes, it’s that compass. It provides that idea of, “Am I going to go left or am I going to go right? Am I going to buy this piece to the equipment or that? Am I going to serve this client or this one?” It really is that compass that provides that direction for that. It provides fuel in the tank. It’s that energy that gets you going because I know I’m going to enrich lives today. And I’m going to make a difference in the world. Yes, part of my piece of that might be just cleaning the floor, sweeping up the floor, doing whatever.
But in that process, I am enriching people’s lives. I’m making a difference. So it’s that fuel that drives them out of bed, that they can’t wait to get after, that type of thing. It provides fire to the imagination. You think about the creativity that emulates out of purpose, some of the greatest, whether it’s inventions, developments, advancements, have come through focusing on a purpose, if you will. And lastly, I always believe it provides grit, grit in your heart, that whole toughness. When you get stacked up against a tough decision or you’re being pushed in one direction by the world, if you will, or whatever, it really provides that grit, if you will, to say, “No, I’m standing strong on what my values are. I’m standing strong on my mission here that we aren’t going to deviate that no matter what the world’s telling us, no matter what we’re hearing from over here.”
It really provides that toughness. And that in and of itself, again, those are all the things that I see that then leads to ultimately that great profitability, that great growth, people that want to align themselves with your organization and that type of thing. It’s a way people… They use this in evaluation of folks. “How do I see you playing out the values on a day to day basis, as far as what kind of teammate are you?” They don’t just evaluate technical performance, they evaluate performance as a team member from a value standpoint. So there’s all kinds of great ways that you use this, and the point is, and that’s why I so love this question, is I advocate for this all the time. This not just a project that you do and you slap it on your website, throw it on the wall.
This is a tool that you use every day in every aspect of your business. This is how you live your life in your business. This is how you live every aspect of it. And that’s why, going back to why I so encourage you to have framed up personally, is it becomes every part of your own personal life as well. What am I going to do today? How am I going to behave today? How am I going to be with my kids today and help them forward? What does that look like? And when you get this grounded in your own life, it just provides all this direction, that light in your eye, that fuel in your tank, that grit, if you will, in the heart. All those things, it provides that for you personally, and it certainly will with your team at work as well.
Yeah, for sure. I appreciate that answer. I liked it a lot. Funny that you said something, you probably don’t even remember it, and you’re talking about this is what gets people out of bed in the morning. And your second point, I was going to ask this, so we’re going down that road now, but your second point on a servant leader was energy. And I think by now, we’re 40 minutes or so into this podcast, people can tell you have energy. And where do you get that from? What gets you out of bed in the morning and what are you passionate about?
I’ll tell you what, Jamie, there’s nothing that drives me more than seeing people advance their skills and achieve their God-given potential. That’s really what it is. When people get aligned with their own personal purpose and you see a transformation. Particularly in leaders, when I see a leader that has grown up in a positional authority environment and understand the paradigm shift of really thinking first and foremost about the greater good of others and to start seeing them understand the impact that they can have with their team members to really light their fires for making a difference in their people and their influence and their platform’s world. It’s everything to me. I firmly believe for one thing is that the more servant leaders we have in this world, our world’s going to be a better place. And so I just have this never ending passion and desire to multiply servant leaders.
And it’s a one by one thing. It’s not a thing that you can wave a magic wand and all of a sudden we’ve got hundreds of thousands more. It’s one by one, we get that understanding and that paradigm shift of what it means to really look out for the greater good of others above and beyond ourself. And to start to see that light bulb go on, on how you’re impacting the world by doing that in a positive fashion. And then people get that lid up that they can’t wait to get after it, and it’s a grass fire, if you will. So I love starting that fire to just expose them a little bit to that. And again, the reason I can stand so tall on this is that these aren’t my ideas.
It really does come from the master, if you will, servant leader who illustrated all of these principles, all of these things on exactly how to get people passionate about what they’re doing and to look at what they’ve been gifted with from a physical skills and talent standpoint and a core value standpoint and the legacy that they want to leave in their life. When they focus on that and get aligned with what that is, because that’s really the formation of your own personal purpose, and then they get excited about that, oftentimes they’ve never even thought about that. And so if I can help them to really get in tune to that internally to their own personal purpose or mission, if you will, that just lights me up and I just get real, real excited about that.
And honestly, I don’t need an alarm clock to get up and begin the day because I get the opportunity to go out and help people, like I say, to lead at a higher level to enable them to achieve their God-given potential. And that’s just what I love to do and I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to work with so many great people, just like yourself, who are just phenomenal that I learn from every day. Every person that I get the opportunity to work with, I learn from, and I count you as one of those people and it’s just a really fun-
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I count you as one of those people. And it’s just a really fun, fun thing to be able to do.
Well, you’re too kind. But one thing you said in there that, just to continue that and to encourage people a little bit, is the neat thing about servant leadership is it can seem like you’re learning things, but you don’t have to try very much before you see results. And that’s what I think you’re saying too about how you can get excited, because you’re seeing your clients or your friends get excited because they’re trying something. One thing I would say that I’m not very good at is encouraging, and so I don’t recognize the importance or the power of encouragement. And so then when you do it, you see, oh, that works.
And so I just encourage people to not be intimidated by stepping into it, because you will see results really quickly from getting focused on what is my purpose, or where do I want to take my business? And then drive towards that. You might see results in ways that you didn’t expect, but you’re going to be excited about them either way. And one of those, like you say, is when you start to understand all that, and then you manage your whole business or your whole life around it, it gets so much easier to know who should be on the team and who shouldn’t, instead of really stressing about those things, as just one example.
No, right on. That’s so right on. And I appreciate your thoughts there too, Jamie, about encouragement. I mean, you think about this, in our world today, it’s so unfortunate that there’s people that grow up, whether it’s abusive families, whether it’s just, I mean, there’s all kinds of environments that people are growing up in right now that might not be the best. And you think about those people that are on your team at work, they come in, they join this team, whether it’s a small family business, whether it’s a huge, whatever size business that it is, they might not have ever received any encouragement in their entire life. And you, as a leader, have the opportunity just by lifting them up and telling them how grateful you are A, for how you are as a teammate, for the fact that you showed up on time, the fact that you want to work at this organization, whatever it is, just lifting them up, that might be something that they’ve never felt before.
And just that impact alone can change the trajectory of an individual’s life that could go on for generations. And as a leader, that’s all due to you being intentional about doing that for your folks where you really don’t know their background and what they’ve had to encounter in their upbringing and so forth. And we all have that opportunity, it just takes some intentionality to really, to step up and do that and to really think about those things of how can we lift somebody up today? And that’s what I always say. I mean, at the end of the day, you’re going to lift somebody up in every conversation or tear them down. And as servant leaders, I mean, the more that we can lift people up, and that might be with straight talk and some conversations about how they can improve. But at the end of that conversation, you tell them, I mean, I want the best for you. This is what it’s all about and this is why we’re having this conversation, because I believe in your potential. You have so much potential and I’m just fighting for you every step of the way.
They might have never had somebody that has come alongside them before in their entire life, and that’s who you can be as a leader and the difference you can make.
Yeah. I’m really glad that we expanded on that, because again, this series is really for our listeners that, like I said, many of them are small family businesses. And I think one of the things that happens in small family businesses is as the leader, we don’t recognize what other people that work for us think of us. So we show up as one of the guys, rather than they have way more respect for us than we deserve, they have way more respect for us than we realize. And a little bit of encouragement or a little bit of empathy on how they’re showing up during the day or not showing up can go way further than what we imagine and actually can change people’s lives. So I’m glad you mentioned that, because I want to share that with people, is just understand your position as an owner, leader in a family business and show up that way.
So another thing, the third thing you mentioned around servant leadership was performance. And I had a question I wanted to ask you not totally related to performance, but it certainly can help with performance. And that is, I know that you’re always striving to learn and do better. And so what are you reading these days? I know you’re a book reader and you jump into things. What would you say was the most helpful book you’ve read in the last year and what are you currently doing?
Yeah. And I wish I was a better reader, that’s one thing. Full transparency, I wish [crosstalk 00:50:34]-
Well, hey, I can’t help you grew up in Illinois.
Yeah, exactly. That’s right. And we all have a cross to bear, right?
And this might sound cliche or whatever, but I mean it’s just facts, from myself standpoint, always my number one go to from leadership standpoint and books that I read is the Bible. I mean, I truly, I read through the Bible every year, and my Bible is so written up with notes on that whole model of servant leadership, where the foundation’s talked about, where energy is talked about, where performance is talked about, where relationships is talked about, where character is talk about. I truly believe it’s the best leadership manual ever written. I mean, it just creates that guide. So that’s always my number one. But a couple others that I appreciate this question, because I’ve got a few authors, leadership gurus or whatever that are really my go to people, and a couple of them have just came out with new books.
Mark Miller is the vice president of development, of organizational development, personal development, if you will, for Chick-fil-A. And he’s written a number of books on servant leadership. It’s actually not even out yet I don’t think, I’m not sure if you can even buy yet. I got an advanced copy to read that just he wanted some input on it. But it’s called Smart Leadership. It’s called The Four Simple Choices to Scale Your Impact. And it’s just, I’ve started reading it and it’s just really going to be a fantastic book, and I know some of the things that I learn in that will become part of the curriculum. Another of my couple, Ken Blanchard has always been one of my favorite authors. And one of his people in that organization is a guy by the name of Randy Conway.
Randy, I look to when it comes to trust and that whole character piece of the model. I really lean into him and some of the things he’s done in the past. And Ken, just his whole outlook on servant leadership. And he’s the one that really very initially kind of had me looking to Jesus as take a look at that model and how that looks and so forth. And he’s really ground on that as well. But they just wrote a book together called The Simple Truths of Leadership. It’s called The 52 Ways to be a Servant Leader and Build Trust. And it’s a very easy read. You can read it in a couple of days. And it’s actually 52 key concepts that they’ve got that really helps you step into both that servant leadership aspect and building trust. So those are two that I’m currently reading right now.
In fact, again, I think they’re actually launch date is right after the first of the year where you can get those on Amazon. And then another interesting one I’m reading is called An Uncommon Guide to Retirement, which I have read. It’s by Jeff Hannan. That’s not a known author at all. But it’s called Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life. And a lot of the leaders that I work with, I shouldn’t say a lot, but a fair amount, they’re business owners, they’re maybe in their last quarter of working in the business and they’re looking to what the next journey looks like. And that is just a really great book. That book, along with Repurposed, which is written by Ben Taatjes, those two books have a lot to say about that last phase of your life that might be after your working days quote unquote, but what are you going to do? What’s the continued value that you’re going to provide based on your own personal purpose around that and so forth?
And those are both just outstanding books that I would recommend to anybody if they’re in those ages, kind of that second half, if you will, to really help frame up what you want to do as you continue on in those older years.
Yeah. Well, good list. Nice variety for listeners of all ages. So hope people will jump on some of them. I know I will. The last thing that we’re kind of winding down here, thanks so much for your time, but that you mentioned in regards to point of servant leadership was relationships. And I’ve always been more than impressed, just I don’t know if you want to use the awestruck, but by how you connect with people. And like I said, I think I said earlier in the conversation, I certainly have said this to you, when I call you, sometimes you don’t answer, but if you do, you’re always super energetic and happy to hear from me, like I would be one of your own kids that you haven’t talked to in a long time.
And I’m just wanted to take this time to encourage you around that I really see how you build relationships as an important part of who you are. And it does make a difference in how you show up to lead people. And so it’s a really important thing. I know for me personally, it comes somewhat natural. But as I’ve gotten older, I certainly enjoy relationships and enjoy connecting with people in a more real way than just a customer or just a acquaintance. So I don’t really have a question around that, but I just really wanted to just encourage you that I appreciate that about you.
Well, that’s very nice, Jamie. I really appreciate that. And to your point, there’s way more to life than the weather in Minnesota, right? I mean, that’s the shallow conversation. It’s going deeper and just really having some great, inquisitive, curious questions about folks that you can illustrate how much that you value them by just wanting to know and learn more about them. So it’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. It’s good stuff. But again, you’re a master at that as well. You are, again, preach to the choir on that one.
Well, I don’t know if I like your analogy around the weather in Minnesota, because my wife had an uncle that lived in Palm Springs and he always would come to Minnesota. And he said, “if you don’t like the weather in Minnesota, just wait 10 minutes.” And said, “when I’m at home in Palm Springs and I take a nap,” he said, “I wake up, and every time I wake up, I have to wonder, am I in heaven?” So anyway. But Mark, thanks so much for joining us on The Water Table today. It’s been a great hour. I hope that our listeners enjoy it as much as I think you and I did in just the dialogue we had. How do our listeners find you if they would like to reach out to you?
So my website is Triune, it’s T-R-I-U-N-E, leadershipservices.com. And so I pretty much, all the information as far as my contact information is on there that talks a little bit about the work that I do and so forth. But as always, I would certainly love to hook up with anybody that would like to. And then the books, both my books are on Amazon, of course, if you have an interest in some of the things that we talked about today to learn more. But yeah, it’s just been a real pleasure, Jamie. I so lift you up for the work that you’re doing to connect with people and help people forward. And that’s the spirit of this podcast is just trying to be there for the greater good of others. And again, you’re such a shiny example of servant leadership and you play that out in what you’re doing right here at The Water Table.
Appreciate it very much, Mark. Thanks for your time.
You got it. Have a great day.
Thanks for joining us today on The Water Table. You can find us at watertable.ag. Find us on Facebook. You can find us on Twitter. And you can also find the podcast on any of your favorite podcast platforms.