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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.




Voices Carry

Family Business Magazine captures Kevin’s journey and new leadership model in their March 2022 article, Voices Carry. Writer Margaret Sheen tells the story of Kevin losing his voice, the journey he went on to find his voice, and the lessons he learned along the way—and, ultimately, how those lessons translated into a new, modern leadership strategy at his seventh generation family company, Hancock Lumber. Kevin also shares his vision of what being an owner might look like without working directly in the business.

“In a traditional family business model, typically one or two family members really carry the load of responsibility. But in a model where everybody’s leading, it gives everybody more flexibility as well.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.




Architects of Shared Leadership

As part of Hancock Lumber’s HBS Dealer’s national ‘ProDealer of the Year’ recognition, HBSDealer magazine featured the company on the cover of their March 2022 edition. Ken Clark’s “Architects of Shared Leadership” cover story shares their leadership teams’ voices and highlights Hancock Lumber’s success as an employee-centric, shared leadership business—and, how Kevin Hancock’s vision to become one set the company in a new direction.

Click here to read the full article.




#28 | SLOW DOWN TO SPEED UP

“Strange what being slowed down could do to a person.”

—Nicholas Sparks

 

Here’s a picture of me actually demonstrating what I learned on the basketball court about the importance of slowing down to speed up!

Even though the gymnasium was filled with whistles, shouting, and squeaking sneakers, I can still hear the coach’s wisdom nearly forty years later.

I was at SWISH basketball camp at the University of Southern Maine, a junior in high school preparing for my senior year, and college competition beyond. We were working on dribble moves—penetration with the basketball into gaps designed to draw excess defenders and create open teammates.

“Slow down to speed up,” the coach had just instructed me.

I had hurried through a hesitation crossover dribble, thinking that faster was better.

“The hesitation is of no value unless you give it the gift of time,” the coach continued. “You’ve got to give the defender time to pause in response to your own pause. You’ve got to slow down to speed up.”

* * *

Decades later, I value those same words as both a CEO and a human.

From 1997 to 2010 I was the fast-moving CEO of Hancock Lumber Company. At that time I had a booming, infallible young voice and near-boundless energy. I would routinely work from six a.m. to six p.m., racing from location to location, using first my Dictaphone and later my cell phone between stops at stores, mills, and construction sites. If there was meeting to be had, I would attend it. It there was a problem to solve, I would solve it. If there was a sale to close, I would close it.

That defined my life as an average-performing CEO of an average-performing company.

The boss gets first dibs on all the work, I’ve become fond of saying.

Then, in 2010, I had a front-row seat to a double train wreck. First, the housing and mortgage markets collapsed and average-performing companies suddenly became vulnerable. Second, in response to the stress of the first event, I acquired a rare voice disorder that made speaking extremely difficult. Without warning, or training in how to do so, I had no choice but to slow down.

It took me about five years of therapy before I could even use the phone again. Running every meeting was now impossible. I began asking questions in response to questions, to put the conversation back in the hands of the other person and protect my broken voice. Listening, delegating, sharing the stage, and doing less, not more, became my new forced modus operandi.

Only then, ironically, did I begin to learn a little something about leadership.

* * *

Today I’m a CEO who advocates slowing down organizations and the people within them.

Here’s one specific example of how I’ve pursued that path.

Over the span of several years at Hancock Lumber we were able to reduce the average hourly work week in our stores from 48 hours per week to 41. At the same time we increased annual compensation. People were making more money and acquiring the gift of time. Seven hours a week may not sound like a lot until you multiply it by the length of a career (say, thirty years). That’s 10,920 hours.

To accomplish this, we had to take on the worst possible pay structure for the twenty-first century: overtime. Overtime pay incentivizes one outcome: working longer. In the modern age of accuracy, productivity, and lean practices, what companies should reward is employees making the work take less time, not more. This can be achieved through higher hourly pay rates for everyone complemented by bonus and incentive systems that encourage themes such as accuracy, safety, and the elimination of re-work.

As human productivity at work expands, we can use some of that freed capacity to make more lumber and deliver more building materials. But, we can also use some of that newfound time to just plain work less.

Today I talk regularly about putting the work back in its place. Work should be important, not all-consuming.

My next goal is to pursue the potential of the four-day work week. For our drivers and manufacturing teams, for example, that would be four 10-hour days. If we had four delivery trucks at a store and we wanted those trucks to be on the road 50 hours a week, we would have five drivers each working four days.

Great companies will keep finding ways to help employees earn more money, but they will also increasingly give their team members something perhaps even more important: the gift of time. Work should not be hurried, hectic, or chaotic. Nor should it be all-consuming. Great companies, like great point guards, will learn to Slow down to speed up.

 

“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.”

—Oriah Mountain Dreamer

 

______

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

 




#18 | SAWING THROUGH COVID

“For it is dangerous to attach one’s self to the crowd in front, and so long as each one of us is more willing to trust another than to judge for himself, we never show any judgement in the matter of living, but always a blind trust, and a mistake that has been passed on from hand to hand finally involves us and works our destruction.”

—Seneca

* * *

On March 12, 2020, a US Navy reservist, returning from duty in Italy, became the first COVID-19 case in Maine. Three days later the governor declared a civil state of emergency. Businesses closed. Society froze.

Meanwhile, our company, Hancock Lumber, had hundreds of employees deployed across fourteen locations all asking the same question.

What does this mean for us?

* * *

It turns out that the people of Hancock Lumber would have a far different COVID-19 work experience than most Americans.

As a deemed “essential” industry, we never closed, and, due to the nature of our enterprise, we never worked remotely.

“We still haven’t figured out how to make lumber from our couch in sweatpants,” I frequently told inquirers in the months that followed.

Ours is an industry where you have to be there in person, or else, you’re closed—and you can’t take turns showing up. A sawmill backs up quickly if any single work station goes idle. The Hancock Lumber team of humans faced a pretty simple choice: We all work, or none of us works.

In overwhelming numbers, our people chose to keep going. At the core of this decision was an unspoken understanding that blue-collar employees across America intuitively recognize: My company needs to run in order for me to get paid. I need to show up not just for myself, but for my fellow workers and their families. There was no thought in that moment that anyone other than us was coming to the rescue.

So what was that like, working—every day, on location, next to each other—during COVID?

Well, it wasn’t simple, but it also wasn’t complicated. At that time there was no “guidance” from state or federal capitals, nor did we look for any. No one knew our business like we did. As is customary in our leadership model of dispersed power, we would keep the rules to a minimum. Trust in the judgment of individual humans would be our power source.

Working through COVID demands one great commitment: Everyone must lead. Viruses travel one human at a time.

So we went to work with four essential guideposts: Spread out; keep it clean; stay home if you’re sick, anxious, or caring for another; and trust everyone to implement these values in their respective corners of our company. We gave everyone extra sick days. Additionally we gave everyone quarantine days, should they be needed.

Over the next twelve months, we would collectively:

  • make 18,000 construction site deliveries
  • produce 90,000,000 board feet of lumber
  • design, build, and deliver 76,000 trusses
  • make over 20 miles of wall panels
  • execute 250,000 in-store customer experiences

Together we logged (no pun intended) 1,200,000 on-site work hours from March 2020 through February 2021.

And what were the COVID-19 results?

Our employees—565 people, sharing responsibility collaboratively at Hancock Lumber—acquired 30 known cases of the virus. Of those 30 cases, 29 were confirmed as “contracted at home” (meaning, in their personal life, away from work). A single case of COVID was confirmed as “contracted at work.” Our group was 29 times more likely to acquire COVID at home than at work.

* * *

Ultimately our state government would issue detailed rules for work during COVID. While well-intended, the problem with this approach is always the same. Out goes innovation, accountability, and continuous improvement made possible by the collective creativity that only surfaces when everyone leads.

I have a friend who runs a small hair salon. One day (with a sense of impending dread) I read the six pages of COVID regulations she had been issued. The mandatory guidance covered everything from appointment scheduling, store signage, and training requirements to capes, smocks, neck strips, soap use, and disinfectant spray—from gloves, drapes, linens, eye coverings, and laundry to tools, porous surfaces, Barbicide, and food stations. It also covered magazines, service menus, cash registers, cloth chairs, leather chairs, trash bins, credit cards, telephones, and parking lots. All of this represented a missed opportunity to empower and share leadership.

When crisis strikes, trust becomes more important, not less. Empowerment becomes more essential, not less reliable.

In dire times trust is paramount, and it only manifests through the willingness of established leaders to show restraint—not to write the entire script on what to do and how to do it.

* * *

One day during the early phase of the pandemic, a team leader at our Casco mill shared a video of an iconic moment of disaster defiance from the movie Forrest Gump.

In this scene Lieutenant Dan climbs atop the highest mast of their shrimp boat to stand before the hurricane’s wrath.

“You call this a storm?” Lieutenant Dan proclaims as the vessel is pounded by wind and rain. “I’m right here. Come and get me! You’ll never sink this boat.”

COVID decimated certain industries; we were simply fortunate enough not to be among them. But beyond luck, what got us through? It was trust. Trust that shared leadership held more potential in a storm than a set of rules from above.

 

“He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.”

—Lao Tzu

* * *

(Note: Here is a link to the scene where Lieutenant Dan and Forrest, alone and without hierarchical supervision, defy and defeat the storm. That’s the Seventh Power, and it lives within us all.)

* * *

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

____________________

This is the eighteenth 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!

 




My New Year’s wish is that everybody on Earth would feel trusted, respected, valued, and heard!

Hello and Happy New Year!

Wishing you and your family a safe and fun holiday!  Looking forward to 2021!

Across 2020 I participated in nearly 100 “events” (podcasts, articles, talks, interviews) hoping to advance the concepts of

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT – SHARED LEADERSHIP – DISPERSED POWER – and RESPECT FOR ALL VOICES.

My goal is to help change the mission of work in America.  Work should be meaningful for the people who do it.

The archives of these events are available on my website.

Click here if you have a chance over the holiday weekend! 




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.




THE ECONOMICS OF PLACATING CHINA & MULTI-NATIONAL CORPORATIONS SELECTIVE APPROACH TO SOCIAL JUSTICE

So the article copied below fascinates me. I’ve been on this theme for a while but have not really known how to approach it. I’m trying to reconcile the following dichotomy – there are lots of American based multi-national corporations that want to lead for social justice in THIS country (which is great) BUT won’t touch the subject of social justice in China. The NBA caught my attention on this earlier in the year when the entire league refused to speak out for social justice for the people of Hong Kong…and now there is Disney with its latest movie – Mulan (the remade / non-animated version).

We watched the new Mulan as a family about a week ago. We all left feeling it was ‘ok’ and ‘oddly generic’ in the subject matter it approached and avoided. When a friend of mine sent me this article below from Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe – the ‘plainness’ of the movie came clear. You might give Jacoby’s article below a read and see what you think.

Here’s where I have landed – multinational corporations NEED China economically AND advocating for social justice in China will NOT help your cause so they don’t. Your economic success in the massive Chinese market depends in large part upon the Chinese Communist Party’s satisfaction with your behavior and messaging. In America advocating for social justice is seen as good for business – so they pretty much all do it.

I love advancing social justice in America. The only thing better, to me, would be to advance social justice globally but companies won’t take those risks. Corporate involvement in ‘social justice’ is still often a calculated business decision and until we get beyond that we will only be in limited and selective pursuit of a cause that should apply to everyone.

To do business with China you must placate China and I’m not sure if this current reality of this global economic phenomenon has yet been called into the light.

 

 

Kevin Hancock
www.kevindhancock.com

–––––––––

 

Disney Thanks the Dictators by Jeff Jacoby

I don’t subscribe to Disney Plus. But even if I did I wouldn’t spend $29.99 to view Disney’s ballyhooed remake of “Mulan.”

According to critics who have seen it, the $200 million picture is a mediocre piece of moviemaking. It reflects “a timid and studied thematic emptiness, an avoidance of any specific ideas or questions that might upset anyone, anywhere, at all,” writes Reason’s Peter Suderman. “Mulan fights for honor, for family, for finding herself and owning her power, which is to say she fights for vague and inoffensive banalities.” In the Wall Street Journal, critic Joe Morgenstern calls it “earnest, often clumsy and notably short on joy,” and concludes that “the film as a whole lacks the clarity of its animated predecessor, not to mention the earlier version’s gleeful showmanship, gorgeous design, and vastly wider emotional range.” Joshua Rivera, reviewing “Mulan” for The Verge , says it “feels like an anticlimax. . . . [It is] merely a serviceable film that’s rather easy to forget.”

The real problem with “Mulan,” however, isn’t its artistic failings, but its moral callousness.

Unlike Disney’s 1998 original, a key theme of which was self-determination and personal freedom, the remake heavily emphasizes the virtue of loyalty to family and community. In China, where the movie is set, loyalty is also a heavily stressed value — loyalty to the state and to the ruling Communist Party. It is not by coincidence that the new “Mulan” reinforces a doctrine so important to the Chinese dictatorship: Disney collaborated with Chinese authorities in making the film.

The company “worked closely with China’s government, all the while striving to present a main character and story line faithful to Chinese values,” reported the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. “To avoid controversy and guarantee a China release, Disney shared the script with Chinese authorities while consulting with local advisers.”

There is no indication that anyone connected with the movie objected to toeing China’s Communist Party line. When pro-democracy protesters were being brutally assaulted in Hong Kong last year, the star of the new movie, Chinese-born American actress Liu Yifei, publicly supported the security police suppressing the protests . That was appalling. But it was nothing compared to the discovery that “Mulan” was filmed within hailing distance of China’s Uighur concentration camps, and that in the credits at the end of the film, Disney thanks China’s rulers for the privilege.

Those credits, wrote Isaac Stone Fish in The Washington Post, are “the most devastating” thing about the movie:

Disney filmed “Mulan” in regions across China (among other locations). In the credits, Disney offers a special thanks to more than a dozen Chinese institutions that helped with the film. These include four Chinese Communist Party propaganda departments in the region of Xinjiang as well as the Public Security Bureau of the city of Turpan in the same region — organizations that are facilitating crimes against humanity. It’s sufficiently astonishing that it bears repeating: Disney has thanked four propaganda departments and a public security bureau in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China that is the site of one of the world’s worst human rights abuses happening today.

More than a million Muslims in Xinjiang, mostly of the Uighur minority, have been imprisoned in concentration camps. Some have been released. Countless numbers have died. Forced sterilization campaigns have caused the birth rate in Xinjiang to plummet roughly 24 percent in 2019 — and “ imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” fits within the legally recognized definition of genocide. Disney, in other words, worked with regions where genocide is occurring, and thanked government departments that are helping to carry it out. . . .

Why did Disney need to work in Xinjiang? It didn’t. There are plenty of other regions in China, and countries around the world, that offer the starkly beautiful mountain scenery present in the film. But in doing so, Disney helps normalize a crime against humanity.

So what else is new? For years, Disney and other studios have kowtowed to Beijing, subtly and not-so-subtly adjusting the content of their movies to satisfy the demands of the world’s foremost communist regime. In a recent report , PEN America, a nearly 100-year-old organization that champions human rights and fights against threats to freedom of expression, condemned Hollywood studios for “increasingly making decisions about their films — the content, casting, plot, dialogue, and settings — based on an effort to avoid antagonizing Chinese officials who control whether their films gain access to the booming Chinese market.”

There are numerous ways in which Hollywood “compromises on free expression,” says PEN:

[C]hanging the content of films intended for international — including American — audiences; engaging in self-censorship; agreeing to provide a censored version of a movie for screening in China; and in some instances directly inviting Chinese government censors onto their film sets to advise them on how to avoid tripping the censors’ wires. . . . Steadily, a new set of mores has taken hold in Hollywood, one in which appeasing Chinese government investors and gatekeepers has simply become a way of doing business.

Needless to say, US moviemakers have no hesitation about portraying American leaders, attitudes, or history in unflattering ways. In PEN’s trenchant observation,

Hollywood enjoys a reputation as a place uncowed by Washington, and one that is often gleefully willing to speak truth to American political power. This reputation contrasts strangely but silently with Hollywood’s increasing acceptance of the need to conform to Beijing’s film dictates.

Disney and other studios are private companies, free under the Constitution to promote any message they like. But their willingness to truckle to Chinese censors has a terrible impact on the freedom of others.

Beijing’s influence over Hollywood . . . cannot be ethically decoupled from the Chinese government’s practices of suppressing freedom of expression at home. Beijing enforces one of the world’s most restrictive censorship systems, in which films and other creative endeavors are subject to a strict process of pre-publication review by the State. China’s media is similarly under state control. . . . Vast categories of protected expression are criminalized, with peaceful dissidents serving years-long jail terms for their critical speech.

Independent civil society does not exist within mainland China, and the country’s Great Firewall represents the world’s most advanced and expansive system of digital censorship. In the areas of Tibet and Xinjiang, the repression of civil rights is breathtakingly severe; in Xinjiang especially, it is no exaggeration to say that millions of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are in detention camps or jail because the government has essentially criminalized their cultural and religious expression in the region. . . . Beijing’s imposition of near-total barriers to access for Western reporters in those regions, meanwhile, helps ensure that this narrative is unchallenged.

In short, the Chinese government works tirelessly to ensure that the only stories told within China are ones that it specifically approves. Beijing’s influence over Hollywood is part of this work.

So when Disney goes out of its way to thank Chinese government propaganda agencies and the public security department in Xinjiang, anyone with a functioning conscience should be nauseated. Disney’s Chinese partners in the making of “Mulan” are literally engaged in genocide and its attendant atrocities. For a parallel, imagine a Hollywood blockbuster filmed in 1930s Germany that made a point of thanking the Reich Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment in the on-screen credits.

Once, Disney had more backbone. In 1996, the studio produced “Kundun,” a movie about the life of the Dalai Lama. The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama is reviled by the Chinese government, which routinely blackens his reputation and has made it a crime even to display his photograph. Beijing was enraged that Disney had made the movie, and vehemently insisted that it not be released.

But in those days, Disney knew how to face down communist dictators. It announced that the movie would be shown in the United States as planned, China’s threats notwithstanding. “We have an agreement to distribute ‘Kundun’ domestically,” Disney’s spokesman said, “and we intend to honor it.”

When China retaliated by restricting Disney’s access to China, however, the company abruptly shed the backbone it had briefly grown. “We made a stupid mistake in releasing ‘Kundun,’” then-CEO Michael Eisner told Premier Zhu Rongji in October 1998.

“The bad news is that the film was made; the good news is that nobody watched it,” Eisner added. “Here I want to apologize, and in the future we should prevent this sort of thing, which insults our friends, from happening.”

To repeat: Such bootlicking should nauseate anyone with a working conscience.

Maybe Disney has no qualms about its open and shameless collaboration with the brutes of Beijing, but the rest of us should. Don’t reward that collaboration with your dollars. Boycott “Mulan.”




Interview with Kevin Hancock, President & CEO of Hancock Lumber

In this video, Kevin speaks to The Inventions Show host Tack Lee about how he reinvented the way leadership is dispersed and shared at Hancock Lumber. Kevin and Tack discuss how he came to this leadership model in depth, as well as what it means for the employees, the customers, and the company. By dispersing leadership and power to everyone in the company, Kevin aims to enhance employee engagement and facilitate finding self-actualization. He also discusses how the company has handled this change and the path he sees for the future.

Click here to watch the full video.




COVID Response Strategies

The Wall Street Journal 8/24/2020 Article “New Thinking on Covid Lockdowns: They’re Overly Blunt and Costly”

This is the most thoughtful, data driven, reflective, and objective considerations of potential strategic responses designed to achieve maximum and balanced health, economic, and social salvation from COVID that I have read. –Kevin Hancock

  • “400 million jobs have been lost world wide.”
  • “We are on the cusp of an economic catastrophe. We can avoid the worst of that catastrophe by being disciplined.” – James Stock. Harvard economist.
  • “The economic pain from the pandemic mostly comes not from sick people but from healthy people trying not to get sick.”
  • “There have been few attempts to truly define the goal.”
  • “Nursing homes account for 0.6% of the population but 45% of Covid fatalities. Better isolating those residents would have saved many lives at little economic cost.”
  • “By contrast, fewer children have died this year from COVID-19 than from flu.”
  • “And studies in Sweden, where most schools stayed open, and the Netherlands, where they reopened in May, found teachers at no greater risk than the overall population.”
  • “If schools don’t reopen until next January, McKinsey & Co. estimates, low-income children will have lost a year of education, which it says translates into 4% lower lifetime earnings.”
  • “Bars, restaurants, and casinos accounted for 32% of infections traced in Louisiana.”
  • “Masks may be the most effective intervention of all.”

The thesis is that more targeted strategies would have saved / and still have the potential to save / more lives AND simultaneously create far less social and economic disruption.

This article was refreshing because, for me, it transcended politics. When was the last time you over-heard or participated in a non-political / calm / rational discussion of potential COVID management strategies with data and balance for all priorities? When I realized a couple months ago that our national Covid response would be the primary campaign debate theme in November I knew it would result in polarized thought limitations. Winning strategies usually reside in the gray middle but our politics live on the extremes and it’s costly.




Leadership & Americas Oldest Private Company

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Success Stories host Scott D. Clary about the leadership style he has implemented at Hancock Lumber. He shares how he developed this shared leadership philosophy and the impact it has had on his employees and the business itself. He believes that every voice should be heard, trusted, and respected, and that by sharing the leadership responsibility better ideas are born. Kevin also talks about how this impacts employee engagement, job satisfaction, self worth, and how people feel about the company they work for. He finishes by talking about what he hopes the future holds, both for the company and for the world.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

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

  • So I kind of stumbled upon this idea, and then really got serious about how a company would institutionalize a structure of dispersed power and shared leadership, where everyone felt like they had a voice. So we went to work really re-setting our core systems to be more inclusive, and to create more space for dialogue. Essentially, patience for process so that everyone could have an opportunity to participate in discussions around the most important choices the company was making. And we learned pretty quickly that the real key to making that work was to change the purpose and nature of listening. (08:46- 09:53)
  • People are much more apt to support that which they’ve helped to create. So in this period where we’ve tried to create space for all voices to lead, our efficiencies improved dramatically, our accuracy has improved dramatically, our rework has gone down, our productivity has gone up, and the company’s performance really took off. I’ll put it in perspective this way, we ended up earning more money, the company, from 2010 to 2020, then we did from 1848 to 2009. (11:24-I2:13)
  • So I could spend 65 hours a week at work, but this would not make me a better human or a better manager. The purpose of work is to support, not thwart, the meaning of life. Companies must create pay systems, work schedules, and human missions, that put time back into the hands of employees. The objective is to help everyone get out of their lane and to broaden their lives. (17:59-18:17)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Recent Press Updates: Featuring The Seventh Power

Hello! Just sharing the following podcast and op-ed piece that I wrote on the importance of shared leadership, dispersed power, and respect for all voices. If you like them, please share!
Thank you,

 

 

  • The Enlightenment for Change interview with Connie Whitman was one of my favorite podcasts to date! Connie was a great host–our discussion was deep and really fun.

 

 

 




Shared Leadership: Giving a Voice to Others

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Life As Leadership host Josh Friedeman about leadership and empowering the voices of others. He shares the journey he underwent to finding the employee-centric business model and how sharing the leadership responsibility among everyone at Hancock Lumber has created a flourishing culture and business. By giving others the opportunity to lead, employee engagement and job satisfaction has skyrocketed and problems are being solved by everyone. Kevin speaks about how this can and should be applied to all types of communities and the benefits it creates for all involved.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

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

  • And that’s what I really got excited about this idea of, well, my own voice condition might have limited my ability to speak at times, but maybe it was an invitation to strengthen the voices of others. (9:20-9:34)
  • But I think having said that, specifically to your question, the big epiphany or turning point for me was starting to see the business of business as being more than just business. (16:19-16:37)
  • Now, having said that, the other reason I’m such a big believer in that approach is simply to ask oneself who is the human being that you can most influence and that’s self evident as well, that the only person, any of us can really change is ourselves. And I have found that the best way to create change within an organization is to become it. (27:52-28:24)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




An Excerpt From The Seventh Power

This article is an excerpt from Kevin Hancock’s newest book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. It begins with his trip to Kiev, where Kevin is pensive about how millions of humans were sacrificed so that the success of the center might be advanced. It brings about a reflection into his own company and how he hopes to bring about a stronger work/life balance, inner growth and development, and job satisfaction to his employees.

Click here to read the full article.




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 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.




Finding Your Voice

In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks about his leadership style at Hancock Lumber and how it evolved. He believes that everyone should feel safe and comfortable sharing their authentic voice. When people are heard, they transform into leaders who can share their ideas and empower the voices of others.

“Leadership teams have the responsibility to create a work culture that makes it safe for people to say what they actually think. The success of the company is not the purpose of the company—it’s the result of engaging people the right way.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to watch the video.




EXCITING NEWS: My next book releases on February 25, 2020!

Hello! I have some exciting news! My next book, The Seventh Power – One CEO’S Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership, releases on February 25, 2020. My publisher, Post Hill Press recently launched the ‘coming soon’ sale site on Amazon. Check out the link and help me share it with others! It takes a community of followers to help a book and its message go viral. 

The book will be distributed by Simon & Schuster and available in e-book form. The audio book is being published by Recorded Books

This book takes the reader on an adventure that stretches from the Navajo Nation in Arizona to Kiev, Ukraine. The journey uncovers seven lessons about the art of dispersed power and the benefits of shared leadership for organizations who wish to thrive in the 21st Century. I am looking forward to sharing the full story with you soon! In the meantime, here’s a quote from the front of my book that offers a clue or two about the adventure that’s in store: 

“It is extremely hard to discover the truth when you are ruling the world. You are just far too busy. Most political chiefs and business moguls are forever on the run. Yet if you want to go deeply into any subject, you need a lot of time, and in particular you need the privilege of wasting time. You need to experiment with unproductive paths, explore dead ends, make space for doubts and boredom, and allow little seeds of insight to slowly grow and blossom. If you cannot afford to waste time, you will never find the truth.”

“Great power thus acts like a black hole that warps the very space around it. The closer you get to it, the more twisted everything becomes.”

If you really want the truth, you need to escape the black hole of power and allow yourself to waste a lot of time wandering here and there on the periphery. Revolutionary knowledge rarely makes it to the center, because the center is built on existing knowledge.”

—Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

Just click here and enter your email address to join the conversation about strengthening employee engagement through shared leadership in the workplace. Then share this link with others. It takes a village to create change.




Governor Mills Nominates Individuals for Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission

May 24, 2019 – PRESS RELEASE

Governor Janet Mills announced today that she has nominated six people to serve on the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission. The Governor nominated John Cashwell, Robert Checkoway, James Cote, Kevin Hancock, former Senator Michael Pearson and former Senator Richard Rosen to serve on the Commission, an inter-governmental entity charged in part with reviewing the social, economic and legal relationship between Maine Tribes and the State.

“The Maine Indian-Tribal State Commission has the potential to improve and strengthen the relationship between the State and Maine Tribes,” said Governor Mills. “In nominating these qualified individuals, my Administration is taking a step forward in reinvigorating the Commission and empowering it to become a forum for substantive communication, problem solving, and dispute resolution.”

The Commission is composed of six members appointed by the State, two by the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, two by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and two by the Penobscot Indian Nation. The thirteenth, who is the chairperson, is selected by the other twelve. The Commission has not had a full slate of members since 2013.

All state nominations to MITSC are subject to review by the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary and final confirmation by the Maine State Senate.

Governor Mills’ Nominations to the Maine Indian-Tribal State Commission:

For appointment, John Cashwell of Bangor has served as president of Black River LLC since 2008. He previously served as Director of the Maine Forest Service from 1987 to 1992 and is a United States Army veteran. Cashwell also previously served as a Councilmember and as Mayor in both Calais and Bangor.

For appointment, Robert Checkoway of Freeport, a retired attorney, formerly served as Assistant US Trustee for the US Department of Justice, responsible for the administration of all bankruptcy cases in Maine. Checkoway also formerly served as Assistant US Trustee at Preti, Flaherty and Beliveau and formerly as Associate Attorney at Skelton, Taintor & Abbott. Checkoway is a 1976 Maine School of Law graduate.

For appointment, James Cote of Farmington is a public affairs consultant with Bernstein Shur and specializes in policies relating to natural resources, energy, and economic development. Cote formerly served as president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine and as Director of Communications and Government Relations for the Maine Forest Products Council.

For appointment, Kevin Hancock of Casco has served as CEO of Hancock Lumber since 1991 and is the founder of Seventh Power, a non-profit organization that works to support Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Hancock is the author of the award winning novel Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and is the recipient of the Ed Muskie Access to Justice Award, Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award, and the Habitat for Humanity Spirit of Humanity Award. Hancock is a graduate of Bowdoin College.

For appointment, the Honorable Michael Pearson of Enfield, a retired school teacher, formerly served as Old Town City Councilmember and as state representative and state senator, including as chair of the Appropriations Committee, representing the people of Old Town and Indian Island for more than twenty years.

For appointment, the Honorable Richard Rosen of Bucksport served as the Commissioner of the Department of Administration and Financial Services from 2014-2017 and for fourteen years as state representative and state senator. During his time in the Legislature, Rosen served as Senate Chair and Ranking House Member of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and as Assistant Senate Republican Leader. Rosen is also the former owner and operator of Rosen’s, a clothing and footwear retailer in Bucksport.




Turning Your Business Into Something Extraordinary

Turn Your Business into Something Extraordinary

In these two videos, Kevin Hancock speaks about his journey to finding dispersed power. He shares with the audience how he ended up visiting Pine Ridge and befriending the Indian tribe living there. He was able to connect with them since they felt their voices had been lost as well. Kevin found that his new mission was to strengthen the voices of others and use that strength to disperse power.

Kevin also brings these lessons and ideas to the workplace in an effort to share leadership. By sharing power, employees feel more job satisfaction, more voices and ideas are heard, and the workload becomes lessened for all involved. He concludes the video by sharing seven lessons for new leadership.

Click here to watch part 1 of the video.

Click here to watch part 2 of the video.




Kevin is headed back to Pine Ridge!

In the movie Close Encounters, the overwhelmingly powerful culture from far away made contact and then left; the alien culture resisted the temptation to plant their flag and claim the land as their own.  Leave it to science fiction to come up with an implausible ending…
Devil’s Tower, photographed by Kevin Hancock

Kevin is headed back to Pine Ridge!

On Wednesday June 22nd from 1-3pm, Kevin will make his first stop of the trip at the Devil’s Tower National Monument where he will be on hand to sign books and personally discuss his story with people who are visiting one of the many locations he writes about in his book!

Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse is a unique iconoclastic memoir that traces one businessman’s journey deep into Indian country, and even deeper into his own soul. In a corporate world hallmarked by the never-ending quest for bigger, better, more, this CEO of one of America’s oldest family businesses contemplates an organizational structure where the goal is to do less, not more. In a 24/7 internet- wired world consumed with roles, responsibilities, and external accomplishments, Kevin learns to look inward for meaning and purpose. Through a series of successive, solo trips to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Kevin learns the following powerful lessons:

– We all come from a tribe, and while the pull of the past is strong, the soul is here to individuate.

– Leadership in the new Aquarian Age is about doing less, not more.  Those who hold the power often overreach; they go too far.

– Busyness is not living, and personal growth lies in looking inward, not outward.

– The boundaries that have been set to divide people are not real.  In the end, we’re all one tribe.

In a modern-day adventure strikingly similar to the ancient Lakota Vision Quest rite, Kevin separates from his own tribe for the purpose of seeking a deeper sense of self. Along the way, Kevin comes to be thankful for the partial loss of his own speaking voice as he learns it was his soul’s way of getting him to stop working, stop leading, stop caretaking. In losing consistent access to his voice, Kevin discovers a pathway, a calling, to strengthening the voices of others, which he uses to think differently about the future of Pine Ridge, the future of Hancock Lumber, and the future of tribes everywhere.

Devil’s Tower is an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the rolling prairie surrounding the Black Hills. This site is considered Sacred to the Lakota and many other tribes that have a connection to the area. Hundreds of parallel cracks make it one of the finest traditional crack climbing areas in North America. Devils Tower entices us to explore and define our place in the natural and cultural world.

For more information and upcoming dates for summer events, please visit the Upcoming Events tab on our website, www.seventhpowerpress.com.

 




Video of Kevin’s Maine Live presentation now posted online

  1. MaineLive_screenVideos now available online! At the 2nd Annual Maine Live on March 24th, 14 speakers shared their stories of integrity, tenacity, and courage. For Kevin Hancock, CEO of Hancock Lumber Company, that story is about losing his voice to a rare neurological disorder and then finding it again after spending time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There, he learned an important lesson about power and the individual.“What if we could create an organization where everybody led?Where every voice felt heard, respected, valued, trusted, and empowered?” Watch now.

In addition to Kevin’s message above, here are a few of our favorite reflections from the day: (click here to watch any or all 14 speaker presentations)

  • Mark Bessire | Portland Museum of Art:  There doesn’t need to be conflict between the traditional and the modern; ideas from both worlds can coexist. There is power in creating meaningful traditions with family, friends, organizations, and communities.
  • Jan Kearce | Lift 360: Ask yourself, “What am I a commitment to?”. Embody your purpose. YOU are enough to make it happen. Re-write your story – think about the obituary you’d write for the life you’re leading; now, think about the obituary you’d write for yourself for the life you WANT to lead.  Take time to pause and reflect; don’t burn yourself out.
  • George Neptune | Abbe Museum: Pass on tradition/language/stories of your tribe, so as to “save it for those not yet born”. Find balance, embrace your two spirits – it is OK to have feet in multiple worlds.
  • Steve Malcom | Knickerbocker Group: Spend time “kicking the dirt”…having conversations about the “What ifs” and “Why nots”. Throw rocks (ideas) out there to make ripples and share ideas; it might take time for them to come back and become reality, but get your ideas out there.  Take time to listen, really listen and be in the present without judging or making an opinion too quickly. The world is a dynamic place that is ALWAYS changing. Look for those moments to find opportunity.
  • Tae Chong | Startmart CEIRacism is a bad business model. Look at ALL kinds of people as an asset and economic opportunity in a state that is facing a major labor crisis.  A few eye opening Maine stats that Tae shared:
    • By 2022, 1 in 4 Mainers will be over 65
    • 100,000 workers will be needed in Maine in the next 10 years
    • 44 Median Age of Mainer
    • Maine had more deaths than births in 2015
    • Maine is older than Florida
    • Maine is the oldest and whitest state
  • Beth Shissler | Sea Bags: Sea Bags is green in product and process, sourcing USA materials and keeping manufacturing and jobs in Maine!  Look for the FIT in the people you bring to your organization. HR is all about cultural fit.
  • Ben Fowlie | Camden Int’l Film Festival:  Don’t shy away from difficult topics; leverage the arts to spark local dialogue and create social change.
  • Laurie Lachance | Thomas College“Nia” = purpose.  Let your life unfold down an unintentional path, intentionally, and you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be–but, only if you are paying attention during threshold moments.  Pay attention. Listen. Stop. Pause. Reflect.  Ask yourself, “What are my unique gifts?” and seize the opportunities in front of you.
  • Leslie Oster | Aurora Provisions: Slow down and set a place for yourself at the table.  Sharing your gifts and passion with the world will only be fulfilling if you put a seat at the table for YOU.
  • Sara Shifrin | Gould Academy’s Family Ideas Center: View the library as a room full of ideas, possibilities and thinking – it’s not just a room full of books.  Resist the temptation to find solutions; observe, learn, listen, and employ design thinking to bring new ideas to life.
  • Yellow Light Breen | Maine Development FoundationThere is a distinct difference between feeling comfortable and fitting in. Sector jargon- “internal languages” – get in the way of making change; ideas matter, people matter, and take time to celebrate success. We all like to be on a winning team.
  • Mike Katz | Camp SunshineWorking with terminally ill children makes one very humbled and reflective. Acts of kindness make a lifelong impact. Volunteer; make a difference!
  • Heather Sanborn | Rising Tide Brewery: Ask the ones you love around you what they want to do in life. “A rising tide lifts all boats” – there is such art and meaning behind naming a child, a non-profit, a business that you are passionate about.  Think about the community and power in “helping a neighbor”, and leveraging the “spirit of collegiality” — the cooperative relationship of colleagues. A collaborative ethos is best; we are all a part of “Team Maine”!



New York Times Features Kevin Hancock!

KH_NYT2016

The New York Times features Kevin Hancock in their March 9th online article titled, “A Lumber Executive Loses His Voice and Finds Balance”.Writer Jennifer Van Allen recounts the past decade and Kevin’s journey – how losing his voice led to a series of unexpected events, ultimately helping Kevin redefine his role as CEO and share power more broadly within the 6th generation, family-owned organization led by its 458 employees. Anyone interested in learning more about leadership, opening oneself up to new ideas and experiences, and living beyond the definition of  “roles” should take a look at this article and learn more about Kevin’s book.

What a day when the New York Times features your story! It is an honor to share these opportunities and lessons beyond the state, and connect with like-minded leaders around the country. Pick up your copy of The New York Times tomorrow, March 10th and share in our excitement!

POST WRITTEN BY KOURTNEY MCLEAN




We are the truth we seek to know!

The single wild flower I study, while lying on my stomach that morning on the hilltop above the trading post. The closer I look, the more I see.
The single wild flower I study, while lying on my stomach that morning on the hilltop above the trading post. The closer I look, the more I see.

To all my Pine Ridge friends –           This quote reminds me of Pine Ridge…it reminds me of Casco, Maine…it reminds me of planet earth…it reminds me of being human.  We are all one tribe and we are the truth we seek to know…

 

 

Why We Struggle to find ourselves and How to do it.

“For a long time I’ve had a bit of an obsession with coming home. Not my physical home, but HOME with a capital H. Being with myself. Knowing who I was. Leaning back into me and having that “AH” feeling of being totally whole and totally at peace. I felt like there was something missing, and that I needed to find that missing piece to complete the puzzle. I thought that if I found the right job, or met the right man, or had the right friends, or went on the right adventure that I would find it.

The journey to the self is much less of a linear path to be trodden and much more of a turning back to ourselves.  It’s a stopping, a slowing down, and the realization that we are already complete and whole.  But, it wasn’t until I stopped trying to get somewhere, be it the perfect future or the end of a spiritual path that I could see that I was what I was looking for. And, that I’m here not out there.

So call off the search. You don’t need to be found. you’re already here.”

– Jane Doherty




Bethel Sawmill – Book Day!

I spent the day at our sawmill in Bethel, Maine yesterday.  At the end of the work day, I gave each of the 103 people who work there a copy of my book, NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse!

The day before I had personalized each book…took almost 3 hours!

I wanted to do that as a show of respect.  I never want people at Hancock Lumber to feel like they are only wanted for their physical work.  I want every person to feel important for their ideas and opinions.  That’s really what my book stands for…strengthening voices…at home and at Pine Ridge!




An Employee Led Company

The Maine based construction company Cianbro has a sign up on their conference room in Pittsfield that simply reads, “No one in this room is smarter than all of us.” Another quote I like is, “If both of us always agree, one of us isn’t necessary.”

Back in April I toured every location to sit in on employee focus groups. At each mill and store I sit with 8-9 employees and hear their thoughts on their work experience at Hancock Lumber. I really am interested in people’s perspectives on our company. I describe these sessions as ‘No Judgment Zone’ discussions. I think we can all spend too much time evaluating people’s views to determine if they are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ instead of just listening to what people have to say and respecting their perspective.

THOUGHT OF THE MONTH: There is no single truth about anything. Different people see the same topic from their own unique view. Getting every view heard is critical to gaining understanding. Gaining understanding is the first ingredient in improving.

Speaking up is a team sport. Managers need to ask lots of questions and listen with interest. Employees need to take responsibility for getting more involved in idea sharing and decision making. The more you lead, the better we will do. It is easy to fall into the stereotypical trap of letting the ‘bosses’ make the decisions, but please know that I do not want that for our company. I want you to think of Hancock Lumber as your company as much as you possibly can. What you see and what you think is a really important. The invitation for employee leadership is extended; the more YOU lead, the more YOU speak up, the better WE will do and the more valuable you will feel. We don’t have to agree all the time! In fact, think about how boring and limiting that would be if we did.

I have seen a lot of people get brave, take a deep breath and speak out at focus group meetings and it really inspires me every time it happens!