Influence with character -- leadership writer emphasizes authority, not power
March 31, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Renowned author James C. Hunter shared his philosophy on leadership with about 225 Fort Rucker and local community members at a special community prayer breakfast at the Landing March 28.
In his book, "The Servant," Hunter captures the essence of leadership from a spiritual point of view by emphasizing that true leadership is based on authority rather than power, and further, that the source of that authority lies in influencing others.
Hunter is the principle consultant of a labor relations and training consulting firm near Detroit. He has spent the past 35 years studying, training and speaking in the areas of servant leadership and community (team) building.
"Years ago when I first began studying leadership, I bought practically every book on the subject I could get my hands on...then I realized that all the authors referred to the same definition of leadership, that it is the skill of influencing others to willingly do what you want them to...not because you hold power over them, but because you have built a relationship with them," Hunter said. "I got to thinking about who has been the most influential person in history."
Citing Jesus Christ as the most influential person who ever lived, Hunter recalled His words, "Anyone wanting to be a leader must first be a servant. If you choose to lead, you must serve."
To influence others, and ultimately lead, Hunter said, "One must first be a servant and develop true character with attributes that include patience, kindness, humility, respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty and commitment."
Many of those attending the breakfast agreed with those sentiments.
"All leaders should have those qualities. Once you lose sight of kindness and respect, you lose sight of why you're there to start with," said Enterprise Mayor Kenneth W. Boswell. "Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, a leader can't afford to disrespect another person. It is important to always afford others the dignity you expect to receive."
Others in attendance expressed how Hunter's philosophy affected them.
"The essence of leadership is motivating people in a positive way to perform to their maximum potential," said Allie Reddick, Noncommissioned Officers Academy administrator.
"Jesus Christ is the greatest of all leaders due to two things: his character and his influence," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Mickey D. Jett.
Hunter feels military leaders "get it" better than many organizations, and at least one Fort Rucker officer has experienced the influence of the author's book first-hand.
"In 2007, I was selected for battalion command. Col. (retired) Steve Dwyer told me there was one book I needed to read prior to taking command, "The Servant," by Jim Hunter," said Lt. Col. Garry Thompson, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence deputy chief of staff. "I liked the book and the message so much I read it at least a dozen times.
"My original copy is dog-eared, full of highlights and notes. While in command, I gave each commander and first sergeant a copy of the book," he said.
In his current assignment, Thompson had the responsibility of organizing the annual Commanding General's Off-Site Conference. Maj. Gen. Anthony G. Crutchfield, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, and Col. Daniel Ball, USAACE chief of staff, asked him to work on getting someone outside the military to speak at the first night's dinner.
"I immediately thought of Mr. Hunter and contacted his company through his Web site. Before I knew it, we were talking and he agreed to speak at our off-site dinner and he was a hit," Thompson said.
At the dinner, Crutchfield invited Hunter to visit Fort Rucker any time.
"A couple months ago, Jim called me and said he would be in Montgomery speaking to the Air Force Chief course and asked if he could visit," Thompson said.
Following the prayer breakfast, Hunter spoke on servant leadership to a group of about 150 captains and a group of about 130 noncommissioned officers.