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Leadership Interview and the Statue of Responsibility

Thanks to Kevin Hall for sharing his thoughts on leadership in the following interview.Kevin Hall.JPG

Kevin Hall is an accomplished author, speaker, consultant and serves as Chairman for the Statue of Responsibility Project, a $200 million project inspired by Dr. Viktor Frankl. Kevin has been featured in Forbes Magazine, Restaurant Business, Nation’s Restaurant News and Worth magazine. He is co-authoring a new book series titled The Power of Words. The first book, The Power of Words for Leaders, will be available in book stores in 2006, followed by The Power of Words for Health and Healing in late 2006/early 2007. He was a partner in Franklin Quest which became Franklin Covey.

In your experience, what are the traits or characteristics that all leaders share?
Humility is the “magna cum laude” of leadership traits.  I’m not talking about the dictionary definition of being meek, lowly, or timid. Humility originates from “humus”, which is that rich organic part of soil that allows for growth.  In fact, we won’t grow or develop, and we won’t allow others to grow and develop without sufficient “humus”, or humility, in our lives.  Great leaders are constantly learning, improving, and planting the seeds of personal growth as they journey along their path in life...they are teachable.  All other traits of great leaders emanate and cascade down from humility.  In short, humility is the one single characteristic that separates great leaders from good leaders.

Without true humility we can easily get caught up in the the unquenchable cycle of “having more¸ acquiring more”.  We think we have to “have” more, to “do” more, before we can “be” more.  This “Have-Do-Be” pattern of behavior is a treadmill that leads to nowhere fast.  The “humus” path of personal growth and learning, focused first on “being and becoming”, leads to a “Be-Do-Have” pattern of behavior that is both fulfilling and sustainable.  We will know that we are on the true path of leadership when we start asking questions like— “What do I need to become to have what I most value in my life?”

Our relationships, our businesses, our health, our finances, even our impact in the world...will all grow in direct proportion to how much we grow and what we become in the process.

How does language relate to leadership?

The words that make up language are divine...they came from our creator.  I research the origin of words to truly discover their hidden meaning and power, and in the process, I have discovered a language of leadership.  For instance, the word “leader” originated in the Indo-European language and it literally means “pathfinder”.  If I am going to be a leader then, I better find my personal path and passion in life, and I share a responsibility to help others do the same. 

Leadership is not about titles, or authority, or commanding and controlling others, as some think.  It is about holding a lantern to light the pathway of those who are searching for their purpose and path in life.  It is more about them, and less about me.  “Pathfinders” are leading on the ground, side by side, shoulder to shoulder with their followers, with a common purpose in mind. They lead by doing rather than saying...by walking rather than talking...and they never expect anyone to do anything that they are not willing to do themselves.  Their power and trust is built step by step, and day by day, as they lead and call out to “walk this way”.  As they help others find their path and purpose in life, their own path becomes clearer and more vivid.  This is the essence of being a leader.

Who is an example of leadership that you value and why?

Mahatma Gandhi.  He exemplified the true essence of a “pathfinder” by accomplishing all that he accomplished without any formal title or office.  He moved tens of millions to a new and better place, and he did it all by focusing on improving himself, his thoughts, his word...his being.  He said, “I must be the change I wish to see in the world.”  He knew intimately what it was like to “become”, and throughout his life he focused first on the private victories that would manifest the public victories.  He led from the inside out, and he did it all with a simple claim to be no more than an average man with less than average ability.

What is the Statue of Responsibility and how are you involved? How did it get started?

Dr. Viktor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning” envisioned, over 50 years ago, two mighty “bookend” monuments standing on the East and West coasts of America, speaking to the world of the need for liberty and responsibility in maintaining freedom.  He said, “Freedom is not the last word.  Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth.  The positive aspect of freedom is responsibleness.  That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”

I am honored to serve as the Chairman of the Board for this inspiring symbol of human efficacy and interdependency, and in 1997 commissioned internationally recognized sculptor Gary Lee Price to design and sculpt the statue.  Dr. Stephen Covey and myself became involved through our relationship with James Newman, an early pioneer in leadership, and creator of the “Comfort Zone” theory of human development.  The goal is to bring Dr. Frankl’s vision to fruition, by constructing and erecting this 300 foot tall monument on the West coast within the next 10 years.

What are the critical issues that leaders face in the world today?

It has been said that great leaders engage not only the “hands and backs” of their followers, but their “hearts and minds” as well.  The origin of “enthusiasm” comes from the Greeks, and it means “God within, or God’s gift within”.  The job of a “pathfinder” is to identify and recognize the unique God given talents and gifts that each of their followers have.  When we maximize and focus on our “God’s gift within”, a sense of clarity and purpose enters our lives.  We can help others, and ourselves, as we stop doing what we are good at, and start doing what we are great at. 

In Nepal, the greeting of choice is “Namaste”, with two hands pressed together, held near the heart, and with the head gently bowed as one says, “Namaste”...meaning...“I salute the God within”.  Can you imagine the change that would take place in the world if everyone was greeted with, “I salute the God within you” every time they connected with another human being?  We share the responsibility and privilege of recognizing  and saluting the “God within” others, and should constantly focus and plan how to maximize those gifts in ourselves and others.  I recently spoke on the same program with best selling author Ram Charan, and he said that “their are no incompetent people, just those who are mismatched in their jobs.”  Leaders understand that if you want to engage someone’s “heart and mind”, you should first engage their “God’s gift within”.

What impact do you think blogging will have on business?

By the way...blog originated from, and is short for weblog.  Blogging is individual, it is personal, and organic.  A business is made up of individual people, who are growing and developing.  Blogging is a great way to focus on specific topics, people or ideas, and learn and grow from them.  I have recently been following the fascinating saga of a man who has lost 300 lbs. by cycling, and the story has unfolded through a blog.

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