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Interview with Leadership Coach Ken Hester

Recently I had a great opportunity to talk with Leadership Coach, Ken Hester. Below is the podcast and the transcript from our conversation filled with great leadership content.


Ken Hester Social Media Links:

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter


Transcript

Andy George:

This is the Andy George Leadership Podcast, a podcast all about helping you reach your potential to find your purpose and live with passion. For more information, you can visit AndyGeorgeoaching.com. You can also find me on Facebook under Andy George Coaching. As always, I would love it if you would subscribe, share and comment on this podcast, and I'm Andy George and I'm so grateful that you took time out of your day to listen to this episode. One of the reasons I love doing this podcast and speaking to leaders is because I really do believe that everybody can grow and develop into the leader they need and want to become. My friend, that includes you right now, wherever you are, however you're listening to this, whatever situation you're in, I believe that you can develop into the leader that you want and need to become.

Andy George:

Leadership is very much like our muscles. If we exercise them and use them, they grow and become strong. If we neglect them, they become weak. My hope is that through this podcast it will strengthen your leadership muscles and that you will become the leader that you know and desire to become. I also realized that there's a lot of people out there that have great leadership principles and experiences. So today, I am excited to interview a very good friend of mine, Ken Hester. Ken has 20 years of leadership and pastoral experience, and prior to ministry, Ken manage corporate franchises and coached basketball at the high school level. His heart for people and the church is to see both come to experience their full potential through Christ.

Andy George:

Currently, Ken and his lovely wife Ashley and their two children live in Gastonia, North Carolina, where he's a full time leadership coach with a passion for excellence and hands-on experience in building strong dynamic and flexible organizations both in the church and in coaching. Ken brings a unique blend of pastoral and leadership skills to his role. Ken and Ashley love going to the mountains of North Carolina and lakes nearby. When he's not investing in leadership, you will find him playing golf, watching basketball, riding roller coasters, and spending time with his incredible family and friends. Ken's been a good friend of mine for 15 years and I know, listen, just me when I tell you, I know you're going to value and get value out of this conversation with Ken. So for the next few minutes, I hope you enjoy my interview with leadership coach, Ken Hester. Hey, Ken Hester, thank you so much for joining me on this episode.

Ken Hester:

Andy, what's up man? It's so good to connect with, you bro.

Andy George:

Yeah, absolutely. Ken, I already kind of gave you this big grandiose introduction about this you being like a leadership guru amongst gurus.

Ken Hester:

Oh, wow.

Andy George:

So no expectations here, little expectations-

Ken Hester:

Great, great.

Andy George:

...Of what's going to happen. But yeah, Ken, you are... What I love about you is that you are a lifelong learner, truly, and you love leadership principles both within church world, outside the church world and coaching world. It just seems like you just have this surplus of leadership that just kind of oozes out of you, which I love that about you. It just kind of comes out of you. You don't have to force it out. You just kind of live it and breathe it, which is pretty awesome. So I think-

Ken Hester:

Oh, thanks.

Andy George:

You're welcome. So I think that for people listening today, we've been friends for 15 years, which I think we both agree that it's hard to find that longevity in friendship. But so for all of the friendship reasons aside, I really value your mind when it comes to leaders. So I wanted to just interview you a little bit on this episode and talk through some real good leadership principles that I think will help add value to everybody listening. I know it's going to help add value to me.

Ken Hester:

Great.

Andy George:

So here, let's just jump into it. So the first question I want to ask you is, what is one behavior or trait that you have seen derail more leaders and more leaders' careers? We see that happen all the time. But what is something that is a behavior or trait that you see just kind of derails leaders?

Ken Hester:

Yeah, I think it's kind of, obviously it's biblical, right? We find everything in scripture. The greatest leadership book that you could ever read is scripture. There's tons and tons of examples of great leadership, poor leadership, potential leadership, et cetera. But to kind of have a broad answer, and we might dive in a little bit more, but character is the thing that separates leadership. Because what I've learned and what we see again in scripture is who you are now will only be multiplied in your leadership, right? The more leadership that you gain, the more multiplication of the character of who you are is defined. We see that in Saul, right? So Saul is like, okay, a good guy, seems like a good guy. But as his leadership increased so did his craziness, right? Because that's who he was, right?

Ken Hester:

Or Joseph, his leadership, the more and more that he was given leadership, the more and more we found out who he was and his character defined who he was, regardless of what anybody else said about him. He knew who he was in Christ and that character was multiplied. So I think who you are now will only be multiplied the more opportunity that you're given. So make sure that you have those standards, make sure that you have that character set in stone biblically, spiritually, emotionally, because it'll just be multiplied as you gain influence.

Andy George:

Yeah. It's kind of like leadership flows out of who you are in your heart, right?

Ken Hester:

Yeah.

Andy George:

It's the heart of leadership. So if you value people truly and truly care for people, then in your leadership that's going to show your care for people. If you really don't care about people and you're just doing it because you're on an ego trip or this big pride issue, then that's going to come out. We've both seen people that are very humble leaders, but very dynamic because humility doesn't mean weakness in leadership.

Ken Hester:

For sure.

Andy George:

I think some people think that, they think, well, leader means weakness. It really doesn't. You can see real arrogant leaders who are real, could be very dynamic, but they come across as not authentic and so it's authentic leadership. So the other side of that same question is what are some of the positive traits that you've seen? What are some of the positive traits that really comes through when it comes to leadership?

Ken Hester:

Yeah, I think integrity is huge as a piece of that character. A little bit what you're saying there is who I am, right? If I live a life of integrity, basically, if I'm the same person behind closed doors as I am in front of people, or if I'm the same husband to my wife as I am on social media, if she can confirm who I am as an individual, then that is a huge piece of leadership. I think connected with that passion, right, you've got to be passionate about it. If you're not excited about what you do, if you're not excited about leading people, then don't force it. Everybody has a seat on the bus as they would say, right? Everybody has an opportunity. The best teams are the ones where people know their position. Not everybody can be the quarterback. Not everybody can be the star. But the people that support that role, again, biblically, Aaron and her and Joshua are just as influential to the story as Moses, right?

Andy George:

Right, yeah.

Ken Hester:

So if you know your role, you're not looking to take on what ultimately you don't have the capacity to take on.

Andy George:

Yeah, yeah. That's a great statement. Knowing your role, it's kind of like grow your planet, leading from where you are, right? So not everybody is the lead dog. Not everybody's up in front leading all the time. There's tons of support positions and so being able to lead in those with integrity and with passion is super key. What do you look for in a leader that you want to kind of either work with or be a part of? What is it you look for in a leader? So don't look back on past and go, "Oh, this leader was wrong here, there." What are some of the things that, you've been around leadership long enough, that when you meet somebody you can just tell right away, this guy is a good leader? What are some of those things you're looking for in that person?

Ken Hester:

Yeah, yeah. I think you mentioned one of them. Just that authentic spirit, just a sense of being genuine. Who you get is who you get. I know that they're going to be the same. Personally, I look for in leadership, I look for a bold leader, somebody who's not going to shy away. They're going to have a good set of standards and belief systems around them where they can't be compromised, right? So some of the leadership, I mean I think especially in the kind of a social media world that we live in, people put a label of leadership on someone that is really just popular, right?

Ken Hester:

That popularity can be swayed based on the time of day, based on the scenario of what's going on in the world. But true leadership has a standard that doesn't sway. It's immovable and they have those expectations of being a leader that I don't care really what anyone else says, this is who I am and I'm confident in who that is. Again, most of that is, for me, is based biblically, right?

Andy George:

Right, yeah.

Ken Hester:

So if I'm not going to sway on what the Bible says, regardless of maybe what the world says.

Andy George:

So high integrity, high passion, boldness, authenticity, being genuine, all those areas. That all sounds really good, Ken, right? It all sounds good, but we've all made mistakes. [inaudible 00:09:44]. So you've been around leadership long enough and I find it's always easy to point out, hey, here's all the things that so-and-so did wrong, here's how I would do it differently. But let's let the viewers and listeners get to know you.

Ken Hester:

Yeah, yeah.

Andy George:

What's a couple of mistakes that you've made as a leader that could help other leaders avoid those same pitfalls? So people who are listening right now. We've all made mistakes. We all learn from other's mistakes. So just be vulnerable for a few minutes. What have you failed or, maybe not failed, but made mistakes that can help those listening?

Ken Hester:

Yeah, no. I failed. I've definitely failed.

Andy George:

Failure's not a bad word necessarily.

Ken Hester:

Right, no. I feel like failure is a part of leadership. Actually, Michael Jordan had said one time that... They actually interviewed one of the guys that played with him for a while and he said, "How did Michael feel about losing?" He said, "Michael said, we always learn, we never lose."

Andy George:

Yeah, that's true.

Ken Hester:

I think that's true about leadership is in regards to failure, right? We might fail, but we learn from our failure and we move forward from our failure and it's not losing. It's not making those mistakes, but it is part of making mistakes. For me, making some mistakes along the way, I think I didn't ask enough questions as a young leader. Actually, I was a manager of a rug store in Raleigh, Capel Rug Outlet, I don't even know if they're still in business anymore. But they're over off 70 by Raleigh Grand Theater. At 19 they put me, they gave me a management role. I'm like, "You guys got to be crazy. You're ridiculous." But I think for me it was thinking that I knew everything like, "Oh, you gave me the keys to the kingdom and so therefore just do as I say," versus asking questions for understanding, not asking questions out of a questioning spirit, right?But asking questions for clarity, asking questions and staying humble.

Ken Hester:

So I think that for me, some of those pitfalls were not asking questions and then not releasing leadership. So I felt like I had to do everything on my own. The more that I grew as a leader, the more I realized that it was empowering. It was delegating. It was finding other people's skills and giving them opportunity to lead in a way that they would actually lead better than I could and kind of creating that team, which we talked about just a few minutes ago.

Andy George:

Yeah. Boy, that's a great one. Not asking enough questions. Why do you think it is that people are afraid to ask questions? Because I think that's what... So people don't ask questions for probably one or two reasons or maybe a couple of reasons. One, they don't know what kind of questions to ask, which I get that.

Ken Hester:

True, yeah.

Andy George:

Or two, they're too arrogant or prideful that they don't think they need to ask questions. But I think most people fall into that they're afraid to ask questions. Why do you think that is? Why do you think people are afraid to ask questions?

Ken Hester:

Yeah, I think, I feel like it comes from a place of confidence and or I guess lack of confidence, right?

Andy George:

Sure, yeah.

Ken Hester:

So if I ask a question, it makes me feel like I don't know anything. As a leader, I'm "supposed" to know what's going on. So if I ask questions, then maybe now you question my leadership when it's the exact opposite. If we ask the right questions, asking good questions, again, for clarity, right? I'm asking questions to understand you as an individual, to understand the goal that we're trying to reach, to understand more about people in general, to understand what I just read, how to apply it. All of those things, those are good questions to ask for clarity and you see over and over again, even Jesus would ask questions, right?

Andy George:

Yeah, sure.

Ken Hester:

He's like, "Who do you say I am?" Right?

Andy George:

Right.

Ken Hester:

Again, trying to gain understanding and not just questioning to question leadership or to question the authority, but really questions for clarity.

Andy George:

Yeah, yeah. As a leader, I love when people ask questions. What I don't like are when people ask questions because they're trying to be a jerk about it.

Ken Hester:

Exactly.

Andy George:

I think that there's a line between the two of asking genuine questions or questioning because they think they know better or they think they've got a better way and it really comes about the attitude and the spirit behind asking a question. So you hit on a lot of great things just in that one question. The fear of confidence, lack of confidence, building teams and empowering leaders. That's a huge one right now. Once again, let's play the side of the leader now. So not people under the leadership but the leader. So Simon Sinek has a great statement where being a leader means that you care for the people you're leading, right? I love that statement. That's true leadership. Leadership is caring those that you lead. So as a leader, why do you think leaders don't develop and empower leaders? What do you think it is that causes them not to do that?

Ken Hester:

Well, I'm kind of in the world that we live in, your value is based on how much you can do. So I'm empowering and lifting up others then, and it seems as though you no longer need me, right?

Andy George:

Right, yeah.

Ken Hester:

So if I become invaluable then now I have a job forever, right? But again, what Jesus showed us is that when you empower and raise up others, you then are able to be freed up to do something greater, to do something else. So when Jesus raised up the disciples, he's like, "You go and do better things in this world than I can do and then I'll go do the things that you can't do." Right?

Andy George:

Right.

Ken Hester:

I'm not going to heaven and build a mansion. I'm not preparing plays. I'm not doing all that. I can't do that. But what I can do is I can be a disciple. I can spread the gospel. I can encourage other people. I can raise up other leaders. So I love that piece of it, that specific I've got to make sure that as a leader, I don't think that I'm the only person and that my value is based on my knowledge.

Andy George:

Yeah. So some of that comes out of the insecurity where if I develop a leader and empower them and they do it better than me, then I'm going to look bad.

Ken Hester:

Right.

Andy George:

But actually you look great.

Ken Hester:

For sure.

Andy George:

You'll look great. If you empower a leader that let's just say is below you organizationally, is below you and they end up doing something better than you were doing it, that's actually not a reflection that you're not as good. That means like you're the kind of leader we want to empower and develop other leaders. But once again, it's kind of that mind, that shifting in our mind about insecurities and confidence.

Ken Hester:

Yeah, for sure.

Andy George:

So you've been around leadership for a long time. You've been doing leadership for 20 years, right, in all different capacities.

Ken Hester:

Yeah, yeah.

Andy George:

What advice would you give somebody that's coming out of college or in college now or millennials for that matter that are just kind of starting their career, that are just kind of getting going? What advice would you give them? Looking back at Ken at age 20, right, 19, [inaudible 00:17:21] mattress store and going from there, or a rug store and developing from there. What advice would you give to young upcoming leaders?

Ken Hester:

It's something that I see is a thread within all leaders. Again, historically, biblically, and even I've seen it in you, Andy, is served before you lead.

Andy George:

Oh, that's good.

Ken Hester:

I think if you... Then then once you've been given a place of leadership, keep serving if you want to keep leading. But that servant piece is again, biblical. Jesus showed us that in order to truly lead, you need to serve. But that's so difficult to comprehend. It's so difficult to actually put in action because we think that all leaders are automatically given a platform. All leaders are automatically given authority. But the truest, greatest leaders have always served first. I don't think you'll talk to any leader, whether it's a political leader, a sports leader, a spiritual leader, I don't think you'll talk to any leader where they haven't served first. If we can understand that as young leaders where, again, in a social media kind of world of, look at me, look at me, look at me, if it's not, look at me, but look what I do, look how I serve., look how I humble myself, then more people will want to follow you.

Andy George:

Yeah. Wow. So if you're listening and you are a young up and coming leader and for that matter if you're just a leader in general, I love... That was a spot on answer, serve before you lead. Servant leadership is huge and I wish more people did that. I think that when we put certain leadership in the operation, people really do feel like we care for them. I think leadership ultimately comes down to that. It just comes down to I'll follow you if I know you care for me. You might not even be the best leader or the most educated leader or the sharpest leader, but if you care for me and I know that you generally care for me, I'm going to give you more and follow you longer than I would somebody that I don't believe cares for me, right?

Ken Hester:

Yeah.

Andy George:

But that servant leader, and the only way on the other side that you add value to people is building that rapport through being a servant, serving them.

Ken Hester:

Right, right. That care piece, you've mentioned that a couple times and actually I came up with an acronym for it because I think a lot of people think that care is just kind of like hugs and butterflies, right?

Andy George:

Yeah.

Ken Hester:

It's like, okay, care for people more. They're like, "I'm not really a hugger." Right?

Andy George:

That's right. That's right.

Ken Hester:

I don't know. I don't know what it is. But what I've realized in leadership is care starts with compassion, right? But it doesn't end there. It starts with compassion but then the next piece is accountability, right? How are you keeping people accountable for their leadership, and then responsibility, how are you giving them responsibility to make sure that they follow through on that, on whatever they've been charged to lead? Then excellence, right? How are you excellent in the way that you're doing things? Are you just doing them to check them off the list? Are you doing them in a way that sets you apart? Those big key things are I think true leadership and true care.

Andy George:

Yeah, that's really good acronym for care, compassion, accountability, responsibility and excellence. I think people want that. I think it's too often we think that people that we lead don't want to be pushed. I think people want to that. I think people want to be pushed into accountability and responsibility and people want to be pushed into excellence because you care for them, they know that... You're right, it all starts with compassion. I have compassion towards people. I care for people. Because of that, I'm going to get more out of you because I know that I care for you genuinely and you know that I care for you. So when I go to you and say, "Hey, you need to step up your game," you get a response that's positive instead of like, "Who do you think you are?" [inaudible 00:21:34]. So right now, if there's leaders listening and you've never talked to anybody that you're leading unless it's a problem, right?

Ken Hester:

That's a problem.

Andy George:

That's a problem. Because that's all you're going to get. You're just going to get reactive leaders instead of proactive leaders who really want to dive in deeper. So with that, you're kind of turning the corner here a little bit for resources so that's a great acronym there. But what are a few resources that you would recommend to somebody who's listening right now that's gaining to get better insight and better leadership?

Ken Hester:

Yeah, I mean, it's going to sound like something you've probably already heard, but realized with leadership, there's not a lot of new things out there when it comes to leadership. It's just applying what you've already heard, right?

Andy George:

Right, right.

Ken Hester:

So it's kind of like, leadership is kind of like a can of paint. If you don't actually open it and apply it to the walls, the color of your room will always stay the same, right?

Andy George:

Yeah, yeah.

Ken Hester:

So I've got to apply the leadership. So what I'm going to tell you right now is something that you've heard, Andy, it's something that we've talked about. It's leaders are learning, leaders are readers, right?

Andy George:

Yeah.

Ken Hester:

So it's like how are you learning? What are you reading about? What are you listening to? This podcast is a great example, right? I've listened to 34 episodes of this podcast because... Not because it's something brand new even but it's something I need to be reminded of.

Andy George:

Right, yeah.

Ken Hester:

So what are you listening to? What are you applying? What 12 book... Read a book a month, right? The greatest CEOs read about 50 books a year. They read about a book a week or listen to them, right? If you're a listener, Audible, whatever it is. But I think if you continue to learn, you continue to soak up leadership then you become a better leader. I don't have any specific resources because I think it also depends on what area you want to lead in. Do you want to lead in business? Do you want to lead in volunteering? Do you want to lead your family? Do you want lead other people through financial decisions? Look for your area that you want to lead and then soak up as much as you can, learn, read, and then become a better leader.

Andy George:

Yeah. Is there something that you've read recently or listened to recently or checked out recently that you would say, "Boy, this is a really good one that I'm looking at right now."

Ken Hester:

Yeah, Dream Teams by Snow is actually... I can't remember his first name. But his last name is Snow. It's easy to remember. But it's a great example of leadership and putting the right team together. Kind of like what we talked about already as well. Dream Teams is a great one. Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast is... He is always spot on and he gives you a free kind of like resource download every week, every week or every month that it comes out. So those are two that are really kind of inspiring me lately. But yeah.

Andy George:

Yeah, excellent. We'll put some of those down in the resource in the podcast notes as well. So Ken, how can people get a hold of you? What's the best way to get a hold of you or find out more information about you? Because you are also a leadership coach which is amazing and awesome. I love that about you. So if you're listening now and want to get a hold of Ken just for that or have conversation with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Ken Hester:

Yeah, I love conversations. I think every great leader starts not with charging people but with having a conversation, right?

Andy George:

Yeah, absolutely.

Ken Hester:

I was like, "Let's have coffee. Let's do this, let's do that." Where are you at asking questions for understand? So easiest way to get in touch with me, probably social media, Facebook. It's Facebook.com.ken.hester. Instagram@kdhester. Twitter, same handle. So I love, I respond to all the direct messages, messengers, messaging, whatever. Sometimes I feel like social media isn't very social.

Andy George:

Very true.

Ken Hester:

But I actually got off the phone yesterday with a guy. He left a comment so I sent him a direct message and then we had about a 30 minute conversation. So I love to connect. So yeah, reach out to me, social media is the easiest way.

Andy George:

Once again, we'll put all of Ken's social media links in the show notes as well. Well, Ken, my friend. Thank you so much for taking about 20 minutes of your time and speaking with us. This is great [inaudible 00:26:18].

Ken Hester:

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Andy George:

There will be a manuscript as well. I love the transcripts by the way, podcast transcripts.

Ken Hester:

Oh, yeah.

Andy George:

I love those.

Ken Hester:

Incredible.

Andy George:

So in the show links below, however you're listening to this podcast will be the links to some of the things Ken's mentioned as well as his links as well as a transcript of the show notes in case you missed something you want to get back to. But Ken my friend, thank you as always for your leadership and your knowledge and for just spending some time with us today.

Ken Hester:

Thanks, Andy. Appreciate it.

Andy George:

All right. Well, what did I tell you? I knew that you were going to get some incredible value out of that leadership conversation with Ken Hester. I really do hope that this episode added value to you. I do hope that in some way it's helping you reach your potential to find your purpose and live with passion. Once again, for more information, you can go to Andygeorgecoaching.com and you can find me on Facebook under Andy George Coaching. As always, I would absolutely love it if you would subscribe, share and comment on this podcast. So again, thank you for joining me today and I can't wait to have you join me on the next episode.

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