March 8th, 2022
With Jim Hessler, an experienced business leader who boot-strapped his way to an executive position with a Fortune 500 company. In the process, he developed a passion for helping companies grow toward exponential success and profitability. These turnarounds were his laboratory in learning what leadership approaches and techniques worked best. Over time, and with additional study and research, these experiences came together to form Path Forward Leadership.
Join us for this important conversation on the long-term impacts of leadership, and how to shift your vision for your own path forward in leadership.
Biggest takeaways (or quotes) you don’t want to miss:
- “The best one word definition (for leadership) is influence….because it’s not dependent on title or authority. It’s a function of whether you really want to make a difference…”
- “One of the things that tells you about the culture of (a company) is who their heroes are.”
- “Leadership is learned through reflection. It’s a circular motion.”
People need good leaders. People’s lives are dramatically impacted by the quality of leaders that they work for – it’s a primary relationship in their lives. Honor that. Get as good at it as you need to be. Or hire somebody else that can do that.
Check out these highlights:
- 4:27 Where Jim’s passion for leadership began.
- 11:48 Leadership is influence.
- 21:56 We need people that are invested in our success.
- 39:21 How to tell if someone will be successful if promoted.
- 46:21 Leadership, even for small teams, is challenging. “There are no magic beans that grow a beanstalk.”
- 53:46 Developing people through a longitudinal program and why short term events don’t work.
How to get in touch with Jim:
Learn more about Jim, by visiting his website here: http://pathforwardleadership.com/
Imperfect Show Notes
We are happy to offer these imperfect show notes to make this podcast more accessible to those who are hearing impaired or those who prefer reading over listening. While we would love to offer more polished show notes, we are currently offering an automated transcription (which likely includes errors, but hopefully will still deliver great value), below.
GGGB Intro 00:00
Here’s what you get on today’s episode of Guts, Grit & Great Business™.
Jim Hessler 00:05
Everybody said, if I just did that one thing I’d be successful why? You know. And so in this, this whole kind of happiness industry that we have, you know that we’re telling people, I’m sorry, you know, wise, like, if you just want it bad enough, you can have everything you want to have. That’s not That’s not grit, grit. That’s not great. The grit is, I have to put one foot in front of another every day, I have to get up in the morning to get out of bed and I have to do my work. And if if some measure of success comes to me as a result of that, that journey and that, that path forward grace, which is our vision, then then that’s great, but there’s not like this transformative moment where the light is gonna shine through the clouds and all of a sudden, I’m a leader, it doesn’t happen that way.
GGGB Intro 00:56
The adventure of entrepreneurship and building a life and business you love, preferably at the same time is not for the faint of heart. That’s why Heather Pearce Campbell is bringing you a dose of Guts, Grit & Great Business™ stories that will inspire and motivate you to create what you want in your business and life. Welcome to the Guts, Grit & Great Business™ podcast where endurance is required. Now, here’s your host, The Legal Website Warrior®, Heather Pearce Campbell.
Heather Pearce Campbell 01:29
Alrighty, you welcome I am Heather Pearce Campbell, The Legal Website Warrior®. I’m an attorney and legal coach based here in Seattle, Washington and helping small businesses and entrepreneurs around the world. I am so excited to welcome you to another episode of Guts, Grit & Great Business™. Today, we have my friend and another local Seattle like Jim Hessler, here with us, Jim, welcome.
Jim Hessler 01:56
Thank you, Heather. Appreciate you having me.
Heather Pearce Campbell 01:58
Yeah, so happy to have you here. The topic that you are an expert on is one that I really love. And so I’ve been looking forward to this. I think it’ll be great for our listeners. We’re gonna be talking about leadership and I’m sure a lot of other things. But for those of you that don’t know Jim, Jim Hassler is an experienced business leader who bootstrapped his way to an executive position with a fortune 500 company. In the process, he developed a passion for helping companies grow toward exponential success and profitability. These turnarounds were his laboratory and learning what leadership approaches and techniques worked best over time. And with additional study and research, these experiences came together to form a path forward leadership. So path forward leadership is Jim’s company now, he really believes in developing an organization’s leaders, right, so his programs grow leaders sustainably, so that they can best help your organization thrive. They employ a coaching rather than teaching approach in which participants consistently apply the concepts learned to current work challenges, flesh out the learning through iterative cycles of reflection and practice, and then sustain their professional development with the support and challenge, have a trusted cohort that shares challenges, successes and best practices. So Jim, I was super excited to connect, I think we first connected through LinkedIn, and then you’re a local Seattle light, which of course makes me a fan. So thank you so much for joining me today.
Jim Hessler 03:35
Yeah, thank you. It’s interesting to read that introduction. You know, there’s always a bit of marketing and branding that goes into that introduction, but I think it’s pretty good one, I think it pretty accurately describes what we do I path forward. It’s been around for 20 years now. Makes me a a survivor in an industry that doesn’t have a lot of 20 year survivors. Believe it, believe it? Yeah. So you know, that you may, it may be our conversation today may may just be about my lasting ability, my, my persistence as much as anything else so.
Heather Pearce Campbell 04:11
Oh, well, it’s perfect for a podcast that’s called Guts, Grit & Great Business™. I think, you know, we could go any number of directions. I want to get I want to get to that persistence piece. Tell me where your passion for leadership started?
Jim Hessler 04:27
Well, you know, there’s always this question that comes up of, you know, whether people are born leaders or leaders and you know, I, I think I’m both I think maybe, you know, preternaturally I have maybe a certain level of confidence. I, I think in some negative ways, I had some examples at home that that ended up with me having to take a great deal of responsibility at an early age for going on in the family. And I think I learned some leadership there. You know, it’s it’s that whole if not mean to. Yeah, question. So there was some, I think there was some family things that led me to this too. And I think what, you know, you described in the introduction that I did turn arounds, I was the guy they would call like, on Thursday, and say, Hey, can you move from Chicago to Cincinnati and be there on Monday? Wow, you know, this happened to me, like four times in my career, where I just stepped into these just awful situations, you know, kind of losing money, people. You know, I literally carving cuss words into other people’s front doors and merchandise going out the back window. And, and so I had to clean up some awful messes. And I did. So I did very well with that. But I think what I learned, I guess I was probably aware of it. But this what this made clear is, there’s a tremendous amount of suffering in the world, that’s caused by poor leadership. And, and so really, the mission of path forward for 20 years has been to reduce human suffering. And when you’re working for an ineffective, incomplete leader, you’re you’re suffering your life isn’t what it could be. So, you know, I like helping businesses make money. But I think more about not only the lives of the people in those organizations, but I think about their families and their neighborhoods and their children and their grandchildren. And so I like to tell my people in my classes that, you know, what we’re teaching them may have a relatively short term impact on their business. But most businesses don’t last all that long. And but the, the cultural and, you know, psychological impact of what we do could still be around 150 years from now, in the in the generations of people that follow us. So I, you know, kind of like an Eastern philosopher here, I’m taking a very, very long term view of what I do. And thinking of it in terms of, you know, literally generations of people as much as, you know, how can we make next quarter’s p&l look better?
Heather Pearce Campbell 07:21
Well, you’re I mean, when you describe your mission statement of reducing human suffering, it gave me goosebumps, first of all, and I, I love the way that you view your work. And I think because, in part I relate to the importance of it. And I also think that there’s something really beautiful that happens when we can attach our work to a mission like that with greater impact, it’s the difference between like, and somewhere I can’t remember where I heard the analogy of, you know, a bricklayer asking him what he does, and one brick color layer might say, I’m, you know, laying a brick and somebody else is building the house of God, or whatever his mission was, right? And it’s about how we view our work that really can motivate us and keep us not only committed to our path, but also I think, to doing great work.
Jim Hessler 08:12
Well, we talk a lot about motivation, obviously, any leadership program has to do with motivation. And certainly one of the elements of, of motivation that has to be there is context. And so we, I kind of an early example with that is we we’ve had a an aerospace client, and not Boeing, but a supplier to Boeing for about 16 years now. And I’ve always said that the best outcome is, well, I’ll just say, when you walk into this place, and you see the parts that they make, you would have no idea that they go on an airplane, there was these little kind of lumps of metal with oranges and bolts and things in them. And, and so, you know, the question for the employee, are you making that part? Or are you making an aeroplane, right? It’s the same deal with the bricklayer. And I want you know, I want them to be able to say, to take their kids for a walk and see a airplane flying overhead and saying, I, I built that airplane, you know, and that’s an important source of motivation for all of us. You know, why do we go to football games that’s this, you know, I’m not like the biggest football fan in the world. I like football. But why does 75,000 People Pack into, in our case CenturyLink Field in Seattle, and and root for a football team and they don’t know any of these players. Most of these players aren’t even from the local area. And and the reason is this the sense of being part of something bigger than ourselves in the sense that we we have some sense of of unified purpose you know, with another group of people and I don’t know that of anything that tears down, you know, political and gender and racial and religious boundaries, then then going to watch a football game, you know, hugging complete strangers and you know, all that kind of stuff. And I, you know, I think we need to make our businesses look more like that. I mean, I, I know you’re not supposed to use sports analogies diverged from years and years and years. But there’s so many good ones I can’t resist. But you know, one of the things that to look at, you know, football stadiums, all the seats are pointed in the same direction. They’re all we’re all looking at the same thing. They’re looking at a stat board that tells them how the team’s doing and gives them all kinds of, you know, what would be the corollary for financial information and your business? That so there’s this constant set of metrics. Everybody knows the roles, right, you know, so there’s some, there’s some interesting corollaries. But it points out, you know, that it’s expensive to go to a professional football game. And the fact that people actually spend money to be part of that event, and that culture should be should be something we all learn from and yeah, back towards our own businesses and ask ourselves, if we’re creating that same sense of purpose in our organization.
Heather Pearce Campbell 11:17
Well, I love I mean, it’s a good analogy I was, I was gonna joke with you and say, so long as you don’t use a golf analogy. For whatever reason to test golf, if I’m gonna go on a big long walk, I just want to go walk somewhere where I don’t have to watch for flyballs and, you know, pay attention to things. Will you backtrack for a minute and define for us? How you describe or define leadership? What is leadership?
Jim Hessler 11:48
Well, you know, that’s a, that’s a tough one. I our best one word description is influence. And, and the reason we like influence is because it’s not dependent on title or authority. It’s, it’s just influence. And so you know, one of the really bedrock principles of our program is that it’s not a function of, of title. It’s not a function of where you are in the hierarchy. It’s a function of whether you really want to make a difference, and have an impact on the circumstances around you. And once you make that decision, or book laying on your feet, not on your face starts with a choice. It’s the first chapter, you know, first plank out of our leadership platform is called make the leadership choice. You know, do you want to do you want to just be a passenger on the airplane? Or do you want to pilot it, you know, and so that that sense of, of ownership of what’s going on around you and this, this, the drive to influence that circumstance for the better is probably the best short description that I could give of, of leadership.
Heather Pearce Campbell 13:00
Well, and I know in your career, you work primarily with organizational leadership, right? I’m just wondering in your description of the ripple effects, right, the bigger mission of what teaching and living and training people on leadership means if that, if you see it as this trickle down effect to personal leadership, like is there a way that that leadership results in more personal leadership for other people that may not really be considered leaders?
Jim Hessler 13:28
Well, I think that we probably need to consider how much leadership is included in followership. I mean, good followership is is in itself a form of leadership, it’s so an attempt to, again influence things for the better and be part of something. I think that where, and I might be going off on a little bit of a tangent here, but the where I think, I find myself differentiating more and more from other people who work on leadership is I’ve really come to the conclusion that we’re probably too individualistically focused in leadership development, that in our society, in our Western society, we define ourselves very much on what we’ve accomplished and how our our will and our sense of purpose and all these things which are important made me successful. And I think there’s no there’s a grit you know, to use your word there’s a grit and a persistence to leadership that is often understood people people think it’s about inspiration and it’s about getting people like Rob Ron excited in Yeah, sure. Great. But you got, you know, you got to think hard, and I think harder about this all the time. Why do you and I act the way we act? Why? Why do we think the way we think? Well, I think the answer to that rule hits culture. And I think that more and more, as my thinking evolves about leadership, and thank God 20 years, it should evolve, right? If you’ve been doing something as long as I have, that I’m looking more if you just create a small box and write your name in it, or a person’s name in that box, and then you draw a much bigger box around that, and that is culture structure, you know, other influences. I think, what I’m, what I feel really invested in now is helping leaders understand why people act the way they do in their organization. And the Western answer to that the American answer I would say, in particular, is that well, that’s because of the way Heather is, you know, that’s Heather, you know, she she, this is her education, this is her, this is her motivation. And we spend a lot of time psychoanalyzing people. And I can go there, like anyone else, and I find human beings utterly fascinating. But I think I’ve learned some real humility over the years about the fact that human beings are, you know, very much a product of, of the social structures and the cultural milieu you around us. And I think leader, I’m trying to encourage leaders to think more and more about that element of leadership development. Why does my organization develop leaders? Right? Not just like, how do I work with Heather to make her a leader? But how is the how was what she’s experiencing when she walks into the business every day, leading her kind of naturally towards being an influencer or participant than a good follower, versus just say, you know, just looking at her as the end product of her own will and her own, you know, intentions. So it’s, it’s, there’s an interesting combination, I think that we have to approach which is, yes, we work with individuals, we, you know, I think there’s an interesting point around group coaching versus individual coaching. I don’t do individual coaching. Because every time I do my coach, somebody on a one on one basis, I the the number of kind of structural and cultural issues they’re dealing with just explodes in my mind, and then I immediately want to work with the organization rather than with the individual. And, and so, you know, we’re, we’re also focusing more on a group coaching model, which, you know, there’s some elements of that in our workshop, which, you know, we, our flagship program is a workshop that lasts over a year. Oh, wow, in our greatest hope, at the end of that program, is that the participants say that they learn more from each other than they did from the facilitator. So yeah, we all I think we all have to have some humility. I don’t I think I think we’re a little a little narcissistic in Western culture. It’s all about us. Yeah, more and more. I’m understanding it’s all about us collectively, rather than us as a …
Heather Pearce Campbell 18:28
Yes, well, I love that focus on culture, especially in the context of an organization. I mean, when you have people coming together and spending a huge portion of their lives, right, doing work together in a group, it really matters, the way that dynamics are fostered or created or shaped versus your right, this individualistic approach, which Western culture is just so enamored with, like the hero’s story, the, you know, it’s the same reason why to go back to the sports world. We love people that we perceive that just have natural talent, right, that we think are just like, they just came this way. And it was interesting, because actually, when I got ready to launch this podcast, I finally sat down and I’ve been somebody who has been passionate about grit and perseverance and, you know, like you, I think some of that came naturally. And some of that was probably, you know, nourished into me by my family and family stories and experiences as a kid. And so all of the above but certainly my experience as an adult is that none of us get anywhere in life by ourselves. There’s no such thing as a solo journey or sole responsibility for anything even this concept, you know, people throw around this term like, oh, self made millionaire, nobody’s a self made millionaire. Right?
Jim Hessler 19:50
Yeah, and I you know, I’m not gonna I’m not gonna say that, you know, my own personal qualities and characteristics as a human being having haven’t been helped Tim Right, right. You know, I think the story I like to tell is, you know, 20 years ago, when I started the business, there was a lot of risk. You know, our kids were sort of off to college at that point. So we had taken care of some of the financial requirements of that. So I did have a little bit more freedom, I think, you know, kind of financially to start my own business, but still, it was there was a big risk. And, and I, I really kind of, you know, gritty gritted my way through, you know, the first six months or so of the business. And at one point I made, I remember making $500 in three months. And you might guess that’s not enough to live on, right. So I got my first big gig, I got, I got a phone call, I remember, it was a Friday afternoon, and I got my first big gig, and then I knew everything was going to be okay. And then I like, Okay, we’re going to be alright, this is, this is going to work. And it was late in the afternoon. So my wife was home from her work, and my teenage son was also home at the time. And I walked upstairs, and because I wanted to share the news with him, and his just wave of emotion passed over me because I, I said to them, why people need so much support, as they go through something like this, that I realize, as I’m walking up the stairs to talk to you guys about this success that I just had, that if either one of you, even my teenage son had doubted me in any way, I probably would have failed. So even just within our own circle of friends, our own families, we absolutely need people who are invested in our, in our success. And that doesn’t mean we’re blindly Allegiant to them or, you know, better things about them than we should. But it’s, we’re, it takes a village, I guess, you know, to use that, that terminology. And in that moment, when I was starting path forward, my wife and my two children were my village, and they were champs, they were having a chance.
Heather Pearce Campbell 22:25
Oh, that’s a well, it’s a powerful story. I mean, I can feel the emotion even as you describe it. And it is such a powerful reminder, whether it’s within the context of an organization, whether it’s the entrepreneurial journey, like, who we surround ourselves with in our life really, really matters.
Jim Hessler 22:45
Yeah, one of the exercises that I’ve done is to ask people within my leadership programs to name a person typically ask for somebody outside of the family. Otherwise, everybody says, you know, their parents or the grandparents. So name a person who, you know, kind of changed your life. And really, you know, either they took you behind the woodshed, and told me what for because you were going astray, or they gave you some particular good piece of wisdom, or they stuck by you, when things were tough. Name that person, tell them tell me about that person, and we kind of share our stories. And then at the end of that, I say, Now I want you to name a person, who when I come back here, 20 years from now, will tell me about you will who will name you as the person that changed their life. Because, you know, this is one of the things that’s so, so true about leadership is that in order to be a good leader, you need to be your antenna need to be up constantly for opportunities to to spread good energy, wisdom, challenge to another human being. And so many people shy away from that because they’re afraid they’re going to, you know, anger somebody or, or criticize somebody in a way that they might not be able to handle. But, you know, none of us when we when somebody asked me, you know, a group of people that question, nobody’s gonna say, Well, I, you know, I’m choosing Bob, because Bob thinks everything I always do is fantastic. And Bob never wants me to change. And Bob never calls me to something higher than what I am. We all name somebody who challenges us. We all name somebody who pushed us. And you know, when I look at, you know, leaders who succeed versus leaders who succeed who don’t succeed, you know, that might be the most common you know, bifurcation that I see between success and lack of success is are you willing to speak truth to people are you willing to challenge them? Are you willing to be as I like to say, the tip of the spear from time to time and, and raise a little raise a little hell in not only with other people, but in your organization generally? And so?
Heather Pearce Campbell 25:18
Well, it’s a powerful point that you make about and the way that I would describe it is I think that, you know, what you’re saying is leaders have to be comfortable with a certain level of discomfort, right, they have to be able to bear that weight, be in the limelight, make decisions, challenge people in a way that might be uncomfortable, but also ultimately supports their growth and supports the mission of the company at the same time. And I think that’s tremendously uncomfortable for a lot of people.
Jim Hessler 25:50
You know, we talk in our program, we talk about friendship at work, and what that how do you define that? What is what does it mean to be friends with somebody at work, and a lot of people, name friends, but they’re really acquaintances, they’re just people you hang out with, there are people that that maybe share a love they have for golfer. And, and but that, to me, is not friendship. I, some of the most powerful friendships I’ve ever had are people that I spent no social time with whatever, that I never, I never went to their house and had dinner with their spouse and their kids. We just, we work together in the work environment to in a way that we we invested in each other in and that that, to me is the most powerful form of friendship. There is. And, and so there can be real friendship at work. And when I when I ask people, do you have friends at work? Or they’ll they’ll say, Well, no, I don’t really have anybody that I hang out with. I’m not I say, that’s not what I’m asking you. You have any friends at work? It’s a different question.
Heather Pearce Campbell 27:06
That’s right. No. And I love that I think back to a particular place where I spent some time I’ve always been fairly independent in my career, but I would work in upcounsel positions at various firms helping on some of their largest projects. And I helped one attorney, I’d worked at his firm, I office there, but I really was independent. And then I participate in some of their projects. But he wanted to go build a new firm, so I helped him launch that firm hire people. But you know, spent probably four or five years there really getting to know a close knit group of people and what you say really rings true for me there. These were folks that, you know, I would do anything to stand up for them and support their careers. And likewise, they would do that for me as well. And we may not have hung out at all outside of work. But when that ended, I miss them deeply. Okay, let’s pause briefly to hear from today’s sponsor. Today’s sponsor is Turnkey Podcast. Now I have a quick story about the guys behind the Turnkey Podcast because last year, I launched this podcast, I had not considered having a podcast before intersecting with Doug Sandler and Strickland Bonner. We met at an event in San Diego right before COVID hit. And of course, these guys are podcast experts. They are both podcasters and hosts have multiple podcasts, including the wildly popular nice guys on business podcast. They have created and produced over 1000 episodes of their own podcast interview interviewing hundreds of guests from well known celebrities to everyday working heroes. Their show has been downloaded nearly 4 million times and shared millions of times in over 175 countries. Turnkey Podcast productions leadership team are thought leaders in the podcast space, and they want to help you launch your podcast, build community grow your influence and monetize your show to Doug and Stricker, the perfect pair to bring you Professional Award winning service to help you put your best foot forward. So again, back to that time in San Diego when I crossed paths with these guys. Of course, they said to me, you need a podcast at the time I thought I do. And then I thought about it. And I thought you’re right I do. So with their guidance, I joined their program, the ultimate podcast launch formula. I went from not even thinking about having a podcast to not only thinking about it but literally having one launched in about four weeks. If you think that’s not possible for you let me know tell you it is, I am mom to two busy wild children at home. This was in the middle of COVID. So my kids were out of school, I had no childcare, no nannies, nothing in place. And I’m also behind the scenes running two separate businesses. So if I can do it, you can do it. And with these guys help it, you will find that it is so streamlined, it is so easy, they cut out all of the unnecessary stuff that you can skip, they help you go from A to Z, and do it very quickly. So be sure to check them out at turnkeypodcast.com. If you are an expert, an online educator, a coach, a consultant, a speaker and author and you know that you need your own podcast, be sure to jump over check them out again at turnkeypodcast.com. The ultimate podcast launch formula is right there on their homepage, and it will show you that you are the expert in your podcast. We’ll prove it. Okay. And now back to today’s fabulous guest.
Jim Hessler 31:16
I think the you know, one of the other things that’s obviously on everybody’s mind right, is diversity. And, you know, one of the hallmarks of a good leader, I think, is to be able to manage a diverse group of individuals. Um, one of the ways to do that is, is to do what you do, if you ever travel internationally, to just be curious, be curious about people, you know, where they came from, what they believe, and why they believe in what kind of experiences they might have had that have led them to where they are today. And, and so, you know, this investment, as a human being and other human beings is to me, you know, we what we teach in our program is that it’s really, it’s foundational, if you don’t find human beings. Interesting. And and, and grant them, I think, the grace of, of assuming good things about them. Yeah, I don’t think you position yourself well, to be a leader.
Heather Pearce Campbell 32:26
I agree, I think you have to have a lot of flexibility in your thinking to be a powerful leader. And you’re right. It’s I view leaders more as support roles. Really, yes, they’re leaders, but they’re really there to support a group of people who need somebody who can pave the way for their growth, support that growth challenge that growth. I’ve got a couple of questions for you one, particularly as I think about some of the audience members who might be listening to this podcast, that are not going to be large organizations, they’re going to be small businesses growing small teams. What advice do you have for those folks that feel like every decision they’re making when it comes to hiring a new team member could make or break them? Right? Could could be really problematic or really good if they do it, right. Because I think that can hold a lot of people back from growing, growing their businesses?
Jim Hessler 33:22
Well, yeah, I mean, there’s a, there’s a, I think, no matter if you’re going from one person to five people, or one person to 25 people, there’s a, I mean, you’re going in the right place, and there’s there’s always a certain amount of letting go. That has to happen that even when you’re growing a small organization, I think that it may indeed be true that that next hire is gonna make or break. I mean, that’s how seriously you need to take those decisions. And I’m kind of continually surprised at how kind of Cavalier people are about who they bring into their business. Yes. And I think it almost always works out poorly. And I it’s interesting, because it’s I think more and more I realized that previous experience in an industry is a poor predictor of success in that industry. And that’s sometimes you better off I mean, I think some of the tech companies have done a great job. So they go out and find people that are, you know, I’m a musician, they find people who are musicians, or are actors that are, you know, people with humanities, education and backgrounds. Because teaching the technical part of the businesses is typically the easy part. Right? Right. If you hire a reasonably intelligent person, they’re probably going to be able to learn what they need to learn about the nuts and bolts of the product and the industry and all that. It’s the it’s the it’s the connection that you make with them. It’s the trust you build with them. Yeah, it’s the way you You exchanged ideas with each other. It’s the the the challenge and support that you give to one another. And the again, I’ve worked with people that I didn’t even really particularly like, but I still had great working relationships with them. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that experience. But I think it’s possible. It’s like, Man, I really wouldn’t want to hang out with this person outside work. But somehow we’re doing something really cool together. And that’s, that’s kind of all the relationship. But glue, I think that I need, you know, yeah, I think when you’re, yeah, when you’re, I think there’s two things when you, you know, obviously, you need to be very selective in your hiring. I’m in the process of writing a second book now called Step Up or step aside, which is about the journey of promotion and moving up. And one of the absolute bedrock requirements of being the leader of an organization that’s growing, even if it’s only growing from one to five people, is you, you have to differentiate the skills that were valuable when the organization had five people from the skills that are necessary when the organization has 25 people. Yeah, and there are people who are really, really good and valuable and powerful allies, and you build a lot of rapport and in love and all this stuff with them, because they helped you get from five to 25. And then you need to sometimes look at them and say, you, you’re not just going to rise into a position of authority in this organization, because we’re bigger, you’re going to you’re going to rise to a position of authority in this business, because your skill set and your orientation as a leader now fits the requirements of a 25 person organization rather than a five person organization. And I can’t tell you how different I mean, part of the driving force between behind writing this book is that I was mentioned I kind of got bounced around a lot in my career. And one one day, I was managing 35 People in Boise, Idaho, and I got promoted, and I managing 150 People like the next week. And nobody sat me down and said, hey, you know, what’s the difference? Yeah, right, between managing a 35% organization and a 150 person organization. And this is what the book is really for is to try to describe that difference, you know, between between how you lead that 35 person organization. And so frankly, I ended up succeeding, but it was, it was, it was touch, it was touchy for a while because the things that worked for me in Boise didn’t work in Seattle. And I kept trying to repeat history. And this is another characteristic of human beings is when we have any measure of success, we tell ourselves a story about why we were successful. And then we tend to want to just play that story. That storyline again, and again, and again, instead of changing our story, which is one of the most difficult things for anybody to do, either personally or professionally.
Heather Pearce Campbell 38:13
Well, and I think it’s, you know, that reflection of what got us here won’t get us there, right, when you’re talking about growth and scaling a company and you know, whether it’s one to five or five to 10, or 10 to 25 or 35. It’s, I think, you know, that point that you’re talking about, especially around team is it reminds me of reading Good to Great where the best court, you know, companies spend a lot of time putting the right bonds in the right seats. Right. They don’t, they don’t have fast that part. And they really even when they take over a new company, like in a merger and acquisition scenario. They’re not just slashing people, like a lot of companies do. They’re using the the pool of people they have that already have skill sets, and really trying to coordinate where people sit and putting them into the right seats before they make some of those decisions about who to let go. And I think the the reverse of that almost is true when you’re talking about management positions, like you said, just because somebody has been at the organization for a while or has done a certain work for a while doesn’t mean they’re automatically intended to lead to the next level.
Jim Hessler 39:21
Well, you know, again, you pull back to sports one more time, you know, this is a we’ve seen hundreds of examples of how, you know, success on the field doesn’t translate to success on the sideline. Yes. And I think, you know, my, the sport that I love the most is baseball. The most successful baseball managers for decades and decades and decades have been good like third string catchers, you know, people who weren’t, you know, Hall of Fame players, because so I guess what I’m saying is, it’s possible to even be six Cecil at a higher level in the hierarchy, when you might have been actually less successful at the lower level hierarchy, because your skill set is actually more oriented towards the higher level executive functions than it is towards the more tactical managerial functions. So yeah. And that can that can be hard because we ask everybody to kind of, you know, promote through the system and show competency and it performance at each level. And sometimes it’s just not predictive. And it’s, it’s tough. And then the tougher the thing that gets also tough about that, is sometimes you have to look at somebody and say, Listen, I know you’ve been successful at every level, but we’re not going to promote you to the next level, because you just don’t, we’d have to see this and this and this and this in order for us to be sure. And and I, you know, I think one of the elements here too, is, we can’t be hoping that somebody will be successful at the next level, we have to be sure that they’ll be successful at the next level. And one of the ways we do that is we give them projects and challenges and opportunities to function above their pay grade. And so we can see how they function at that next level. So the person in a way should almost already be doing the job before they’re promoted into it.
Heather Pearce Campbell 41:20
Well, that’s, uh, yeah, that’s a great example, especially for companies that already have teams, some built out, you know, thinking about the the younger companies and the newer, you know, entrepreneurs and business builders, is, is either the failure or success in their ability to have a hiring process that supports essentially the accurate selection of who they need. Where does it go wrong for most people? Because you said it goes wrong most of the time?
Jim Hessler 41:48
Well, I think it? Yeah, I mean, I think Peter Drucker and back in his day, he did some research. And he said that about two thirds of the time companies are disappointed in the results after they make a promotion decision. I think there’s a lot of reasons for that. I think, number one, there’s just sometimes there’s a loyalty element, like, there’s this or he deserves this, which is never a good real about anybody. I think the other thing is we tend to promote people that are like us, sort of somebody that brings a contrasting or synchronistic self skillset, you know, to the job. And I also, you know, I don’t think accountability is strong enough in most organizations. So I think too many people are allowed to get into positions of responsibility, and kind of do okay. And, and not be challenged or held to a higher standard. And so what you end up with an organization, sometimes it’s you end up with this whole layer of, of leadership that’s not performing extraordinarily that maybe got the job because they were competent, and loyal employees rather than dynamic and transformative employees. And then, you know, young people get into that organization. And they say, Well, you know, what, what, you know, one of the things of any, that tells you about the culture of a country is who their heroes are. And this is true in organizations. I think, if you’re considering hiring on to any company, you should find some way of asking them who their heroes are.
Heather Pearce Campbell 43:32
I love that question.
Jim Hessler 43:34
I mean, excuse me if my if some of my politics might be revealed here for a second. But one of the amazing examples in in America is there’s a there’s an Airport in Orange County, California, named after John Wayne. John Wayne was a, you know, he was pretty good actor. He was okay. He wasn’t brilliant. He wasn’t Jimmy Stewart, you know. But what was used to cowboy and and so if you look at that, and you say, wow, why is that icon of John Wayne, and it was like a 12 foot golden statue of him in the airport. And he’s dressed up like a cowboy. He’s not John, John Wayne, the cowboy, not the person or the real person. That’s right. And so what is it about cowboys that that we like? Well, they, they like to tell authority figures to buzz off when they don’t like them, they like to, you know, it’s this very kind of thing we were talking about earlier about this very individualistic view of society. So when you look at organizations, and I think maybe this is maybe a little bit of the dark side of the tech industry, to some degree, is the heroes in a lot of tech companies. So the people that completely subsumed their own personal lives in pursuit of writing code or whatever. And in those become the heroes in the organization and and they aren’t necessarily the heroes that they maybe they shouldn’t be, you know, because that’s not a sustainable thing, you know, going forward so.
Heather Pearce Campbell 45:11
Yeah, well, it’s no, that is another great example of that theme that we were talking about. And what I was starting to say earlier is when I actually went to launch this podcast, I finally sat down and read Angela Duckworth book on grit. And in that book, she talks about our obsession with people who have natural talent, or who have this huge hero story or something, and how, what actually makes people successful organization successful is this idea of grit and persistence. And the fact that people are showing up and trying again, and iterating, iterating iterating. And they’re not it’s not the, you know, the flash in the pan. And for entrepreneurs, especially the entrepreneurs that I’m talking to are the ones that are often starting as solos and building small teams. And you know, their hope is to build a business that provides a handful of people with a with a great lifestyle and allows them to support the community of people that they want to do work in. Right, but they’re not building huge organizations. And yet, they still need to know something about leadership and about hiring and about coordinating people.
Jim Hessler 46:20
Well, in, you know, again, being a little bit of a, maybe an old crank here, but I think one of the things that bothers me most is that is the degree to which we try to simplify a very complex thing. I mean, leading an organization, even an organization of five or 10 people is, it’s really challenging. And I think one of the things we’ve always been proud of it path forward, is we don’t try to make it easy for people, we don’t say, Well, here’s the magic beans are thrown in the dirt and, you know, grow Beanstalk. And if you look out at some, some motivational speakers that I won’t name, and you look at a lot of the nature of a lot of the books, business books that are out there, they’re, they’re almost cartoonish, in their obsession with just a few. A few ideas, if you just do this thing, you’ll be successful. And there’s even books that really are are nothing more than trying to sell consulting services. And so they go in, this is the classic Harvard Business Review article. You know, we went out and we worked with 150 Different companies. And we looked at which ones were successful, and which wasn’t, which ones weren’t successful. And we found that the ones that were successful, all share this one …
Heather Pearce Campbell 47:44
That’s one thing or reps, right?
Jim Hessler 47:47
And in leadership, you can’t make it easy. If you make it easy. If you try to make it easy. I think you demoralize people, because then when they’re not successful, they say, How did I miss that one thing, you know, that everybody said, if I just did that one thing, I’d be successful, why? You know, and so, in this, this whole kind of happiness industry that we have, you know, that we’re telling people, I’m sorry, you know, wise, like, if you just want it bad enough, you can have everything you want to have. That’s not That’s not grit, grit, that’s not great. The grit is I have to put one foot in front of another every day, I have to get up in the morning to get out of bed, and I have to do my work. And if if some measure of success comes to me as a result of that, that journey and that, that that path forward, Gracie, which is our business, then then that’s great. But there’s not like this transformative moment where the light is gonna shine through the clouds. And all of a sudden, I’m a leader, it doesn’t happen that way. The tough journey?
Heather Pearce Campbell 48:57
Definitely well, and I appreciate your being so forthright about it. Because I think that it’s just the nature of people, they want to believe there’s some magic formula or there’s this one thing they can do better that will fix all the problems and it really is just try try and try again. Right and you you keep learning and you keep growing and you keep changing and it’s really an evolution.
Jim Hessler 49:21
You acquire skills you acquire wisdom only if you’re open though we talked about earlier, right? Only if you’re curious and your ego stays out of the way can you be open to that that constant learning I I’ve said for years I have one one thing I want on my tombstone and that is he learned something new the day he died. You know, so it. I believe great leaders are great learners and almost obsessively wanting to find out what they don’t know. Relying on what they do.
Heather Pearce Campbell 50:00
That’s such a great point. And I agree.
Jim Hessler 50:02
It shows up in relationships as well. I think if you want to have a really great relationship with another human being, it has to be, I mean, 44 years into my marriage, we’re still, we’re still discovering things together, not only as individuals, but about our relationship and how it needs to change over time, you know, and so it’s, it’s, we’ve grown up a lot together. And I think that’s why we’re still happily together for the four years.
Heather Pearce Campbell 50:31
Yeah. Oh, that’s such a beautiful point to start to wrap up on the the fact that leadership is really about relationship, I think people can really miss the boat on that one. You know, they think it’s about authority and decision making. And I agree with you, for any of us who have had the experience of great leadership in our lives, understand the truth of what you just said that it’s really about relationship and having somebody that’s constantly learning.
Jim Hessler 50:59
Yeah, and I think if you, if you read our book, the land on your feet, not on your face in steel at the end, which is the curriculum for our leadership program, you would see that we put a very strong emphasis on that element of it. And, you know, I had somebody come up and just reduce me to tears one day, at the end of one of our leadership workshops, we have people wrap up at the end of the program and tell us what they learned. And I took me aside, he said, I wouldn’t I wouldn’t be married to my wife today, if it hadn’t been for this program. And, you know, that made the whole journey worthwhile.
Heather Pearce Campbell 51:39
Right, right. What a testimonial. That’s amazing. Well, Jim, gosh, it’s been such a fun conversation to connect with you on this. I mean, it’s a topic that I love, I feel like it’s so important in business, and especially for folks that whatever level are wanting to grow and evolve their, their business or their organization, it’s such an important and you’re right, it’s such a complex topic to dig into. And I’m so grateful that you’re in the marketplace, helping people sort this out. For folks that want to connect with you and learn more about more about your work. Where would you point them?
Jim Hessler 52:16
Well, pathforwardleadership.com is our website. And, and I’m Jim H, at pathforwardleadership.com. So I’d be glad to certainly talk to anybody, you know, on a non committal basis, about about what we do. Certainly, we also, you know, if somebody wants to observe what we do, we can make opportunities for people to observe our workshop program, I think the good news is that we have, over the last year, learn to facilitate and conduct our programs very successfully. So we’re no longer you know, limited by by being able to be in the same room with our cohorts, we have cohorts now that see each other almost exclusively on the screen. And I can see it’s going back at some point to being streamed. But I also know we have this as an option. Anybody, if anybody if a company cannot fill a full cohort, and I know a lot of your listeners are small businesses, if somebody can send maybe two or three of their people through a program, we can combine them with other non competing companies, and have them go through this great learning experience together, so.
Heather Pearce Campbell 53:23
No, I love that well, and you’re right, I love the opportunity. And even though people have been forced into it, in some circumstances, the opportunity of taking such valuable training like this onto a platform where people can access from anywhere, I mean, it really changes the landscape for the work that a lot of people do,
Jim Hessler 53:41
And again, just the advertisement I will make. And this isn’t just about my business, when you’re developing your people don’t try to take the easy way out, don’t try to send them to a three day seminar. Daniel Goleman, who wrote all the stuff about emotional intelligence said that 90 days after a single event leadership development experience, people will retain less than 5% of what they learn. So if you’re going to spend money, $16 billion is spent every year on leadership developed in the United States. If you’re going to spend your money, spend it on a longitudinal program that’s experiential, that takes place over a certain period of time, so that it can be in leadership is learned through reflection. It’s a circular motion. Yeah. So these these programs where you go and you spend three days and you’re all fired up at the end, and you want to come change the world, by noon, Monday, you’ll be back at your old two year old tricks. Yeah. So choose, choose a program that takes more time and more commitment, and you’ll get a result.
Heather Pearce Campbell 54:41
Oh, well, that is a really, really important point. And the other thing I’ll layer over top of that is that for people that are developing small businesses and smaller organizations, like I don’t want for them to minimize themselves or their role in the marketplace to think like, Oh, this isn’t for me. The reason I say that like my path, my commitment to the marketplace is I want to help develop small businesses so that they have more influence in the world. So that entrepreneurs are actually building businesses that work that have the legal support and structure that they need. But along the way, they need some of this other stuff to to really, really create an influential business. And I remind people constantly the the Small Business marketplace in the US, first of all, 99% of businesses here are small businesses, right and to collectively, we make up 42 to 43% of national GDP. We are not a small sliver of the pie, we are a huge portion of the pie.
Jim Hessler 55:42
50% of the people who are employed in the United States are employed with companies with less than 500 employees. That’s right. And they don’t get much press. We you know, the Business News, The Wall Street Journal is not about those companies have the right to half the workforce workforce, small companies.
Heather Pearce Campbell 55:58
That’s right. That’s right. So it’s why I you know, I just want people to recognize that these tools are some of the tools that they need as well. And just because they’re a smaller business doesn’t mean that they should, you know, not think of their business as needing some of these resources. But yeah, yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Well, Jim, you’ve dropped so many gems, any final thoughts? Before we sign off? I really appreciate you
Jim Hessler 56:23
No, I think I think we, you know, we, it My point is that people need leaders. You know, I think we, we need good leaders. And I learned a lot over the last four years, about what it meant to be to be living in an environment where I wasn’t well LED. And it damaged me in ways that I haven’t even realized until recently. It people’s lives are dramatically impacted by the quality of leaders that they work for. It’s a primary relationship in their lives. honor that. Get as good at it as you need to be or get out of the way and hire somebody else that can do that. It’s critical to the success in health, mental and physical health people that work for you.
Heather Pearce Campbell 57:17
Oh, that’s a Yeah, that’s a that’s a great ending point. And remind me, When is your next book coming out? Right, step up, or step out?
Jim Hessler 57:23
We hoped to publish in probably April or May, so Okay, awesome. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been enjoying writing, so.
Heather Pearce Campbell 57:31
I’d love that well. And it’s possible that this this episode actually doesn’t publish until then. And so I will invite you that if it does go live, share with me the link and I’ll make sure that I add that to the show notes. That would be great. Awesome. Jim, thank you again. I so appreciate having you here today. Yes. Bye.
GGGB Outro 57:54
Thank you for joining us today on the Guts, Grit & Great Business™ podcast. We hope that we’ve added a little fuel to your tank, some coffee to your cup and pep in your step to keep you moving forward in your own great adventures. For key takeaways, links to any resources mentioned in today’s show and more, see the show notes which can be found at legalwebsitewarrior.com/podcast. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and if you enjoyed today’s conversation, please give us some stars and a review on Apple podcast, Spotify or wherever you get your podcast so others will find us too. Keep up the great work you’re doing in the world and we’ll see you next week.