Shared Leadership Culture at Hancock Lumber

Below are 12 articles and podcasts that describe the outcome and impact of shared leadership in the workplace. Take a look at the excerpts below and click through to learn more. Thank you for joining our mission of shared leadership, dispersed power, and respect for all voices!


Work & Life with Stew Friedman

Work & Life with Stew Friedman

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Work and Life Podcast host Stew Friedman about the changes his leadership style and life underwent after losing his voice. Kevin shares how important changing way he approached leadership became and how strengthening the voices of others to help them find their true, authentic self became his life mission. He also talks about how Hancock Lumber has grown exponentially since sharing leadership and power in the organization. Kevin and Stew speak about the faults of having top-down management with power condensed at the top leadership.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

Employee-Centric Versus Capital-Centric Organizations with Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Human Capital Innovations Podcast host Dr. John Westover about shared leadership and employee-centric organizations. They discuss the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of capital-centric organizations and how the shift to shared leadership has impacted Hancock Lumber.

We have been at it for over a decade, so we have very good empirical evidence. Our performance in every category we measure took off. What’s so interesting is, the performance took off when we made the people in the company, not the company, the first priority.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

The 7th Power – Shared Leadership with Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Leadership Re-Imagined host Dr. Jane Lovas about his leadership philosophy and The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. They discuss how his leadership style changed from top-down to shared and dispersed power. He shares his story about how his leadership style so drastically changed and the business implications of this change. Kevin and Jane also discuss supply chains, buying patterns, and how Hancock Lumber hopes to challenge these norms.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.  

The Seventh Power – with Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Being Human host Richard Atherton about his book The Seventh Power. They start by talking about how Kevin lost his voice and the journey that he undertook to Pine Ridge to find inner balance. He explains how this journey led him to the realization that other people’s voices are unique, others are capable of leading, and that leadership should be dispersed. Kevin and Richard also speak about how Hancock Lumber has flourished since his shift in leadership and how other companies can follow suit.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.  

The Breakfast Club Guest: Kevin Hancock

In this radio podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with The Breakfast Club host Mark about his career, his newest book, 48 Whispers, and his mission to empower and strengthen the voices of those around him. During Kevin’s life journey, he has adapted Hancock Lumber to create balance for the employees and ensure that their voices are heard in the company. Kevin also shares how he became involved with the Lakota at Pine Ridge and how this led to his idea of shared leadership.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

Success Made to Last

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with host Rick Tocquigny about shared leadership. Kevin describes how losing the full use of his speaking voice led him to Pine Ridge, where he discovered an entire community that did not feel heard. The two events convinced Kevin that each human is here on earth in a personal quest to find and share their own unique and never to be repeated voice. Unfortunately, across time leaders have done more to restrict the voices of others than to liberate them. Kevin takes these understandings and develops and deploys a new leadership model designed to push power out – away from the corporate center – and give everyone in the organization a leading voice. The result is a high performing corporate model in which business metrics soar as an outcome of a higher calling.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

Heart-Centered Sales Leader

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to host Connie Whitman about his book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. In his book, Kevin shares the philosophy, values and strategies Hancock Lumber Company has embraced on its journey toward becoming an employee-centric company. They also discuss the dangers of being a leader who micromanages a team and the effects this can have on self-worth, work ethic, and stress levels.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.  

Keep It Local Maine: Episode 29

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Keep It Local Maine hosts Kimberly and Todd Regoulinsky about his shared leadership philosophy and creating an employee-centric business model for Hancock Lumber. He shares the journey that brought him to this understanding and how important he feels investing in your employees is for the business and for the employee. He has created a culture where the leadership responsibilities are shared among everyone, meaning that solutions are coming from the people working inside the situations and not just upper management. Kevin can see the confidence that it helps build when everyone’s voice is respected, heard, and valued.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

We Need More From Business and It Starts With Listening

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with People At Work host Bev Attfield about his journey to finding an employee-centric business model and developing a workplace culture where everybody leads and every voice is respected, valued, and heard. Kevin shares how devastating feeling unheard can be, both in the workplace and in the community, and he has developed a way to embrace all voices at Hancock Lumber. By sharing the leadership responsibilities with everyone, Kevin has decentralized the power and spread it across everyone in the company. He shares the impact this has had, economically and socially, and how it can be utilized for any community, not just the workplace.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

We Believe in Shared Leadership

In this article, Kevin Hancock is interviewed about his progressive view on shared leadership. He shares how the lumber industry is often misunderstood and seen as outdated, but he says this is inaccurate. Everything from the technology inside the sawmills to the culture fostered at the company is modern and innovative. Kevin explains more about why the shared leadership, employee-first company model has been so successful.

“The company focuses on the employee experience, and in doing so, positions employees to really create a world-class customer experience.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.

Q&A: Company Culture, Productivity, and Retention: How Does Your Company Measure Up?

The Softwood Forest Products Buyer is reaching out to company leaders across the industry to solicit their input on key issues that impact overall business success. In this publication, Kevin Hancock shares his insights.

“Some organizations collect leadership power into the bureaucratic center, where a few people can make the majority of the decisions for the many. This is the traditional model of business—and government—leadership and, during a period of time in human history, this may have been optimal.

But, that time has passed. of cultures don’t see employees as expendable commodities whose purpose is to serve the company. In fact, these types of cultures flip the traditional script by recognizing that the company exists to serve the people who work there. In a great company, profit is an outcome of a higher calling. That higher calling is the celebration of the human spirit and human capacity. In this way, culture makes all the difference.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.

A Lesson in Leadership From the CEO of One of America’s Oldest Companies

In this interview, Kevin Hancock is asked specifically about his leadership style and how it differs from others. They also speak about how important your authentic voice is and why it is important to listen without judgment. Kevin highlights the importance of hearing voices besides your own, especially as a leader. By engaging others, their voice can start to be heard and they can become leaders as well.

Click here to read the full interview.


“Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer.
I think you build one with your employees first.”

—Angela Ahrendts

The first mission of a modern company should be to advance and enhance the lives of the people who work there. All other corporate value creation is derived from this central priority.

Companies that do this become “employee-centric.” They reach every goal and responsibility of a great corporation through the mastery of this first mission. Only on the wings of thriving employees can twenty-first-century companies soar.

I learned this by accident as the CEO of one of the oldest family businesses in America (Hancock Lumber, founded in 1848).

In 2010 I acquired a rare voice disorder (spasmodic dysphonia) that made speaking difficult. Suddenly I was forced to let others, eventually everyone, become our collective corporate voice. Over time, the more focus we put on strengthening the voices of our employees, the better we performed. This was the birth of our employee-centric mission. Help employees feel trusted, respected, valued, and heard—and everything else just happens. It’s magical, simple, and now tested. In the 10 years that followed we outperformed the previous 160.

So, what did we learn?
What are the rules of creating an employee-centric company,
and what changes occur when you become one?

First, the rules:

  1. The mission changes. The new mission is irresistible. Make the work experience highly meaningful for the people who do it. The old mission would have been about something like sales growth or shareholder value. Those are still important, but they are now wonderful outcomes of a higher calling.
  2. The top corporate metric changes. A new mission requires a new metric. Since enhancing the employee experiences is the new mission, measuring that experience as defined by the employees themselves becomes the new first-priority metric. We accomplish this through third-party engagement surveys. The national average for employee engagement is 34 percent. Ours is 88 percent.
  3. The purpose of listening changes. Listening, not talking, becomes the new management priority (thank you, voice disorder!). But for this to be effective, managers must adopt a new reason for doing the listening. Listening is for understanding, not judgment.
  4. A safe culture for people to say what they actually think is established. In a company driven by listening, it is essential to make it safe for people to speak with their authentic voice. In this approach, an employee perspective is not “right” or “wrong”; it’s simply valued and honored as it stands.
  5. Ego is transcended. It is here that business ceases to be a modern-day Roman Colosseum where “work warriors” prove their supremacy through conquest. Instead, the company becomes a place where adults gather to learn, share, create, experiment, find meaning, add value to the lives of others, and grow. In this model managers become facilitators, not gladiators.
  6. Sustain these rules for thirty-six months from the top of your organization all the way to the front line and back again, and you will become an employee-centric company.

When you become employee-centric, here’s what will be different:

  1. Everyone will be sharing the responsibilities of leadership.
  2. Ideas will be overflowing and acted upon in countless dynamic ways across your organization.
  3. Discipline and commitment to accuracy, best practices, and core operating systems will increase exponentially. People support what they help to create.
  4. The heavy lifting of running a company will become lighter for everyone.
  5. Most importantly, meaning—real, deep, authentic, human meaning—will have been injected into the very core of your corporate existence. What it means to be a business will have been reimagined. Advancing humanity is what your company does now.
  6. Corporate performance takes off as the outcome of a new, and higher, calling.
  7. In the process, winning is redefined. Winning isn’t winning unless everyone is advancing.

* * *

This all sounds irresistible and universally beneficial. So what would possibly prevent a corporate leadership team from pursuing this mission?

The answer is the same thing that has tripped up humans and their leaders for eons: ego, overreaching, the inertia of the status quo, and a lack of deep appreciation for the full potential of the individual human spirit.

Humanity advances one human at a time.  As a result, companies can learn to thrive by simply putting their focus on the human beings right in front of them—their employees.


“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines
of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

—Martin Luther King



Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.


This is the thirty-third post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!


Finding Your Authentic Voice

Kevin Hancock joins the Leadership from the Core “Love in Action” podcast with Episode 53, Finding Your Authentic Voice. Host Marcel Schwantes chats with Kevin, who shares his inspirational story of finding purpose in the midst of adversity and re-scripting his definition of leadership as a result. They also discuss his new book, The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. Marcel Schwantes is the founder and chief human officer of Leadership from the Core, a global leadership training and executive coaching boutique with one core purpose: to grow profitable and powerful servant leaders through “Love in Action.”

“Leaders who want to create a culture of shared leadership should talk less, sit still more, have faith in their people, and engage their power. The way to get people to pick up more is simply to occupy less. The power of them all leading is just immeasurably greater than anything I could do on my own.”  – Kevin Hancock

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • Because what I found through repeatedly asking this question was lovely. It was Love In Action. What I found was that people already knew what to do. They did not actually need most of the time a CEO manager-direct directive. They knew what to do. What they really needed was encouragement and a safe culture to trust their own voice and to do what they knew was the best thing to do. (08:19-08:53)
  • Everyone has a valuable, powerful, unique, never to be repeated voice. And the best cultural model for an organization is to release those voices, not restrict them. So once people kind of got the idea around the cultural concept of what we wanted to do, everything actually got a lot easier and smoother. And our company’s performance took off, and employee engagement took off, and so I really kind of came to see what happened with me as a hinder or our liability, to actually be a bit of a gift and an invitation to strengthen the voices of others. (10:51-11:44)
  • What struck me at Pine Ridge was I met in an entire community that felt as if a piece of their voice had been taken, or stolen, or was missing, and that they were not fully heard. And the combination of those two events created some really powerful, personal learnings. First, I knew what it was like to not feel heard because of my disorder. And second, at Pine Ridge I realized there were lots of ways for people to lose their voice in this world. And putting two and two together even started to think about the very purpose of a human life on earth and considered maybe it was to self-actualize. Maybe we’re all here just trying to find our unique, never to be repeated voice. (14:01-14:55)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.

Business Community Building: We’re All in it Together

In the Workable article “Business Community Building: We’re All in it Together,” Kevin Hancock is interviewed among other business leaders about the importance of clarity in the COVID-19 pandemic. Kevin speaks about the need of the company to follow the lead of the people connected to it. This unification of employees creates a deep connection. The article goes on to interview others on the same topic, highlighting the strength of togetherness during this unique, difficult time.

To read the full article, click here.

Culture Makes The Difference

Article by Kevin Hancock, published in March 2020 on the Young Upstarts website. Young Upstarts is an online business resource for startup entrepreneurs, small business owners, idea people, and intrapreneurs seeking change within their organization.

What differentiates companies?  It’s generally not products, services, facilities, or equipment. Years ago, I would have said it was people who make the difference and separate companies. But I have come to realize that’s not the whole story. Certain companies may think they have the ‘best people’, but the truth is, great people are everywhere — the planet is filled with them. So, if products don’t make the difference, and great people are everywhere, then what separates one organization from another?

The answer is culture. Culture makes the difference. An organization’s culture either creates an environment where great people can flourish, or an environment where people are frustrated, held back, or stymied.

Click here to read the full article.

Culture Makes the Difference

In this article, Kevin Hancock writes about how company culture plays a significant role in differentiating one business from another. To Kevin, culture is fostered heavily by who controls the power of the entity. If the power is consolidated at the top, employees may begin to feel unheard and easily replaced. In cultures where leadership and power is dispersed, employees begin finding their true voice and feel a higher level of engagement and satisfaction.

“Work should serve the people who do it in more than just economic ways. Work should be a place where humans flourish—where people learn, lead, and grow. If the employees of a company have an exceptional experience, they will ensure that customers thrive and will protect and grow their company with loyalty and pride.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.

A Butt-Kicking Project to Overcome the Drain of Talkative Leadership

This article highlights the downfalls that talkative leaders often use to justify their conversation monopoly and the negative impacts it can have on culture and engagement. It also gives an exercise that leaders can partake in to find out how often they take over entire conversations. Kevin Hancock’s story is shared through a video interview about how losing his voice changed his entire leadership style.

To read the full article and watch the interview, click here.

Culture Makes the Difference: Great People are Everywhere, Great Cultures Aren’t

Written by Kevin Hancock, “Culture Makes the Difference” explores the differences between companies and what are the key differentials between them.

“Culture makes the difference.  An organization’s culture either creates an environment where great people can flourish, or an environment where people are frustrated, held back, or stymied. 

What makes one corporate culture different from another?  To me, it’s all about control and where it lives.  Some organizations collect leadership power into the bureaucratic center, where a few people can make the majority of the decisions for the many.  This is the traditional model of business—and government—leadership and, during a period of time in human history, this may have been optimal.  But, that time has passed.” – Kevin Hancock 

To read the full article, click here.

Straining My Vocal Chords and Strengthening the Voices of Others

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks on Awakin Call about his books Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. He speaks about his journey to Pine Ridge as well as the healing process and lessons he learned there. He then talks about how he incorporates the tools he gathered there to implement a better structure at Hancock Lumber. In an effort to disperse power, Kevin shares the leadership role with every one of his employees. This allows them to find their true voice and the company benefitted from this greatly. He leaves the podcast by talking about how shared leadership will continue growing throughout the world.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • One of the things I’ve thought a lot about is the idea that we all come from a tribe. We’re all born into a certain moment in time, place, culture, community. And that entry point, if you will, pulls on us all to act a certain way, to be a certain type of person. But ultimately, each soul is here living a life on earth to find their own true voice, authentic to who they are, and to release it and share it with the world. (16:35-17:28)
  • One of the ideas that I really talk about in that book is the idea that awareness and connectivity, in and of itself, is a powerful act. So when I would go to Pine Ridge and come back, people would ask me what I did there. And at first, I really struggled to provide an answer. But finally I just came clean and said, I don’t really do anything there, which I don’t. I just travel around the reservation and spent time with people that I know there. And this is a place where for decades, generations, people from away have gone there to fix, save, change the people that live there. And that doesn’t work, of course, because change comes from within. And I really would see power in going there for no other reason than to be aware and connected. (32:45-33:47)
  • So at Pine Ridge, one of their core values is wisdom. And the Lakota believe that wisdom is primarily acquired through experience by living a life. And for those who have lived the longest have had the most experiences and have therefore acquired large quantities of wisdom. And elders, therefore, are highly respected within the community. If you go to a public gathering and a younger person stands up to speak, they will first ask permission to speak for the elders. And I remember a few years ago when I took my mom with me to Pine Ridge, and we had a really lovely experience. And it was fun for me to see that immediately upon arrival, she was put in front of me in a place of honor, even though she never been there, because she was the elder. And so it really made me think about how our culture, mainstream culture, could engage elders differently. (43:04-44:35)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.

Strengthening the Voices of Others

In this article, Kevin Hancock shares his story about losing his voice and how his leadership style adapted to this major obstacle. By listening more to others, Kevin is able to preserve his voice and create a new employee-centric culture at Hancock Lumber.

“Leadership is about doing less, not more. It is about restraint. It is about holding the power but not using it. It’s about listening without judging or correcting. It is about being connected and aware of how others feel.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.