Happy Hour Podcast: Guest Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin speaks to host Joel Fleischman about Kevin’s story of finding the power of shared leadership. Kevin explains how he struggled with losing his voice and the journey he started to gain inner acceptance and balance, as well as ways he could continue to lead his family’s company. He also speaks with Joel about how ego plays an essential role in modern leadership, delving further to explain why it is important to shed your ego in the leadership role.

Click here to watch the full podcast.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

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

  • I’ve really become very focused on what I can control. What I can control. And I’ve really tried to not exert my energy on all those things I cannot control. And when I found that, when I oriented myself that way, my life got a lot easier. (12:04-12:32)
  • They didn’t actually need direction from me, 99% of the time to begin with. They knew what to do. What they really needed was the courage and confidence and the safety and culture to trust their own voice. (16:21-16:39)
  • But this book is about self-inquiry. It’s about heightened self-awareness. It’s about coming into your own voice, and really turning inward to find your personal power. (36:28-36:46)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.



Bureaucracy and social harmony are inversely proportionate to each other.”

Leon Trotsky

What are the origins of bureaucracy?

How did “power” historically become centralized in command-and-control hierarchies?

How did certain groups come to exert a defining influence over others?

The answer, at its most fundamental level, is through stories backed by force and force justified through stories.

Slavery was a story backed by force. The subjugation of indigenous peoples across the Americas was also a story backed by force. The September 11, 2001, attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center is another story backed by force. A traditionally male-dominated society was, and is, a story backed by force. In all cases a narrative defining the superiority of one group and the inferiority of another is required in order to “justify” the inhumane actions required to establish and maintain dominance.

Both the Roman emperors and the European monarchs of the early and Middle Ages reigned on the basis of a story known as the “divine right of kings.” This tale, which became accepted as doctrine and was reinforced by the Church, stated that kings ruled with the backing of heavenly powers.

“The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon Earth,
for the kings are not only God’s lieutenants upon Earth and sit upon God’s throne,
but even by God himself they are called Gods.”

—James I of England (1610)

Across the Western world this divine right was conveyed upon kings by another co-conspiring hierarchy, the Church.

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
For there is no power but of God: the powers that are ordained of God.
Whoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God:
and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

—Romans 13

All of this presumes a God who takes sides and is vengeful against those who do not follow “his” word.

In the quest to be fully conscious it’s interesting to note that the dominant conclusion of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism is of a hierarchical God who reigns from above, sends commandments below, and judges all. While this may be the case, it’s not the only interpretation. It does, however, conveniently set a precedent for human organizations to follow.

Indoctrination is defined as “the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.” The key word here is “uncritically.” These beliefs must become so deeply rooted over time that they exist largely unquestioned.

European Americans of the nineteenth century convinced themselves that native peoples were less-worthy humans and therefore exploitable. Southern plantation owners built their society upon the same narrative about people who were black. Slavery and reservations were actually considered “good” and “necessary” for the people subjected to them.

These are dramatic examples of hierarchies established by stories and force, but the model also manifests in more-subtle ways. The place of work, for example, has traditionally been organized around a similar pattern, a ladder of importance and control. The owner and the interests of the business are paramount. The employees, meanwhile, are subservient to the company and expected to follow the instructions that flow down from above.

It can be numbing to consciously confront the origins of our dominant leadership models. It gives me pause to even type these words. I am a white male CEO of a family business. My position in this world came in part through inheritance, as was true of my dad, his dad, and beyond, for six generations. Traveling centuries back in time, a piece of my opportunity emanated from the divine right of kings. Reconciling this and deciding what to do about it has become a priority for me.

In the end, I can’t change when and where I was born—I do have a company and I am leading it—but I can try to change how that company engages with others and expand the mission it exists to serve.

This is what brings me to champion the concepts of shared leadership, redistributed power, respect for all voices, and the creation of employee-centric companies that prioritize the people who work there.

Across human history, power has been centralized. But, like anything that travels in a circle, it can be given back. The fundamental building block of personal power is self-worth—the internal knowing that you are sacred. Today’s “kings” must honor this truth by re-dispersing their power.

The first step in creating a new and more-collaborative model for leadership is the uncomfortable task of acknowledging the old one.

“Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible.”

Javier Salcedo

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


This is the fifth 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!

Learning to Disperse Power in the Age of Shared Leadership

In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks to ACE Virtual Breakfast Program Series hosts Jerry Johnson and Tom Renehan about how businesses can enhance the lives of their employees. Kevin gives ideas on how this can be done, and what he has done to change the culture of Hancock Lumber to become one that fosters shared leadership. He also speaks about how, by creating employee centric companies, improvement of the employee experience causes a ripple effect to everything around the company. He shares how he came to these philosophies and how they can be applied to any community, not just the workplace.

Click here to watch the full video.

Leaders of Lumber: Kevin Hancock

In this article, Kevin Hancock speaks about how important company culture and sharing leadership are at Hancock Lumber. Kevin explains how his journey to Pine Ridge opened his eyes to how narrow his leadership focus was. He was the largest voice in the room and after losing his voice, he could no longer be the same. When Kevin began opening the floor to other voices, he found a significant change in the way the company was able to operate.

“When a company is safe, people will relax and focus on helping the organization improve. The politics, the fear, and the distrust simply dissolve. Ego dissolves as well. People are allowed to just be themselves.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.

This Family Lumber Company Has Survived 11 Major Economic Downturns. Here’s How

Hancock Lumber learned how to sell global and act local.

In this article, Kevin Hancock speaks with Steve Goldberg about the challenges that Hancock Lumber has faced with economic tides since 1848. While looking at the reasons that Hancock Lumber has been able to survive these hard times, he discusses that he recently started looking at the company model differently, putting employees as the priority.

“What I like to say now, to borrow a piece of Maine slang, is that the customer comes a wicked-close second.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

Advocating For Shared Leadership

In this interview, Kevin Hancock speaks with host Helene Stelian about the importance of sharing leadership and finding your authentic voice. Kevin’s goal is to find his own authentic voice and create a company that fosters the culture that allows others to do the same. By creating an employee-centric company, Kevin hopes to achieve this dream. He also shares his journey to Pine Ridge and how his time there transformed the way he thinks about his own leadership style.

Click here to read the full article.

The Age of Localism

In this article, Kevin Hancock speaks about shared leadership, employee engagement, and employee-centric company structures.

“Humans will always benefit from banding together to create value and solve problems. But institutions will need to alter the ways they engage with the world. Take corporations, for example, where employees have historically existed to serve the company. This self-centered model is in decline. It will be replaced by a new corporate relationship in which the company understands that its real purpose is to be valuable and meaningful to the people who work there. I call this reoriented corporation an ’employee-centric company.'” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

The Age of Localism

In this article, Kevin Hancock explores the beginning of the age of localism; the idea that localized decision-making, rule-setting, and self-organizing will be the new pathways towards excellence. Kevin also discusses what will happen to larger companies in the future and the role that they play in our lives.

“Take corporations, for example, where employees have historically existed to serve the company. This self-centered model is in decline. It will be replaced by a new corporate relationship in which the company understands that its real purpose is to be valuable and meaningful to the people who work there. I call this reoriented corporation an ’employee-centric company.'” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.

How Losing His Voice Taught a Maine CEO to Give Workers More Say

In this article by the Bangor Daily News, Kevin Hancock shares how his journey to Pine Ridge changed the way he thinks about power, leadership, and the human spirit. By rethinking the way he led Hancock Lumber, Kevin was able to give a voice to his employees. He found that they had the answers and ideas needed to run their daily activities. From this change, the company expanded to new heights and weathered unthinkable market volatility.

Click here to read the full article.

Spasmodic Dysphonia, Leading Differently, & Strengthening Voices

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to The Impactor’s Podcast host Avery Konda about being a social impactor. Kevin’s leadership style fosters personal growth and shares the burden of leadership among everyone to ensure voices are heard. Kevin believes that employees should have more than an economic gain from being at their place of work. By utilizing Hancock Lumber as a safe and comfortable place for employees to grow and find their voices, they can begin to make impacts on the world around them.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

CEO Kevin Hancock Lost His Voice, But Gained a New, Wildly Successful Management Style

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Monday Morning Radio host Dean Rotbart about his new book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. Kevin and Dean discuss the employee-centric model that Hancock Lumber has adopted and how Kevin came to the realization that this was the path he wanted the business to take. By prioritizing his employees and their voices and ideas, Kevin has been able to foster an environment of shared leadership throughout the company.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

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

  • They already had great solutions and they didn’t really actually need a CEO centric or a supervisory centric directive. They knew what to do, all they really needed was a bit of encouragement and a culture to trust their instinct and lead. (4:55-5:17)
  • And while that’s true today as well, we’re going about it in a very different way. We’re trying to build employee commitment to the company through corporate commitment first to the employees. (20:11-20:28)
  • So our company’s systems and processes and discipline have strengthened as a result of giving everybody a voice, not weakened because by and large, people feel like they’re valued participants in discussing, revising, and improving those systems and best practices. (30:46-31:12)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.

The Business of Shared Leadership – A CEO’s Quest to Disperse Power

In this TEDx Talk, Kevin Hancock speaks about employee engagement and how this is affected by leadership style. In workplaces where employees do not feel heard, understood, or able to lead, they often become disengaged with the work they are performing. It leads to job dissatisfaction and eventually, employee turnover. When employees are able to share the leadership role and are truly heard by those around them, they are able to grow.

“The purpose of [Hancock Lumber] is to add value to the lives of the people who work there, in more than just economic ways.”  – Kevin Hancock

Click here to watch the full video.

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.