Dr. Mark McKergow, co-author of The Solutions Focus, joins Dr. Misner today to talk about the concept of host leadership. His new book, Host: Six New
Rules Roles of Engagement, explores the idea of the host as a metaphor for leadership.
In BNI, as in the old Arabic proverb, the host is both the first and the last: first to arrive and last to leave.
In hero leadership, the hero always goes first, saves the day, and sorts everyone out. That can be a good thing in a crisis, but that’s not nurturing and it’s not serving and it’s not putting other people first. If we think of ourselves as hosts and our team members as our guests, a whole new paradigm of leadership and engagement opens up to us.
To be a great host, you need both planning and flexibility—the ability to respond to surprises. You need to step forward to make things happen, step back to see how things are going, and step forward again to build on the great stuff and sort out the bad stuff. The host is not the center of attention.
Visit hostleadership.com to find out more and get your copy of the book.
Brought to you by the Global Networking Show.
Complete Transcript of Episode 396 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by the GlobalNetworkingShow.com, a monthly Google Hangout show hosted by Andy Lopata and Dr. Ivan Misner. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA and I am joined on the phone today by the Founder of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you and where are you?
Hi Priscilla. Well, this week, I am in Boston. They are celebrating their 20th year anniversary with BNI. It is BNI’s 30th year anniversary. I am speaking to the Boston members this week, so it is really exciting.
Well great. Who is on the podcast today?
Today, I have a guest and friend. His name is Dr. Mark McKergow. He is an international speaker, consultant, teacher. Mark refers to himself as a recovering physicist. I love that expression, Mark. He has worked for more than two decades in emergent approaches to complex situations. Mark wrote the book, Solutions Focus, which I absolutely love. We use a lot of those techniques and ideas in BNI.
Mark and I originally met- he is a fellow member of the Transformational Leadership Council, which is a little woo woo kind of organization, but Mark is a physicist so it’s okay if I play.
Mark, it is great to have you on the podcast. Thank you so much. We are here today to talk about your new book.
It’s great to be here, Ivan. Hello, everyone. I am, indeed, a recovering physicist. Ivan and I are at the applied end of the Transformational Leadership.
Yes, I like how you put that. We are at the applied end of the spectrum. There is no doubt about that.
Mark, you know a few years ago you ran an idea by me of a host as leader, and that really resonated with me because I talk a lot about the visitor hosts that we use and how important it is to be a host to visitors who come in to the organization. So the whole concept of host leadership really resonated with me when you talked about it, so I am really excited to see you have done a new book.
The book is called Host Six New Roles (with the word Rules scratched out. I love that.) for organizations, communities and movements. How is host leadership- it is sort of a new yet ancient way of thinking about leading and leadership relationships. How does that apply in your book?
Well, you are absolutely right, Ivan. Hosting – the idea of receiving and entertaining guests is as old as humanity, I think. People have been inviting each other to fellowship in the community ever since there have been people. It’s a very old idea.
We all know it at some level. We have all been hosts. We have all been guests. We all know hosting when we see it, but then thing that struck me- and this was a decade ago when the idea first came to me. Hosting could be a metaphor for leadership.
Somebody told me an old Arabic proverb. The old Arabic proverb is the host is both the first and the last. The host is both the first and the last. I immediately thought, that is the leader, isnt’t it? The leader is to be the first and the last.
The leader goes first because somebody has to start things going. Somebody has to make a move. Somebody has to set things up. But the host is also the last. The host does the clearing up, waves goodbye to everybody. I thought this is a powerful metaphor for leadership.
It is also a powerful metaphor for BNI because the hosts in all good chapters shows up before everyone else and also is one of the last people to leave. This is why it really resonated with me, your ideas on host leadership. I’m sorry. Go ahead.
I was going to say the idea of hero is leader. It is a very, very ancient one, too. But the hero- which goes first? The hero leaps in, saves the day, and throws everyone out. But that is not nurturing, and it is not serving, and it is not putting other people first. While hero leadership can be a good thing in a crisis-type situation, I think in the longer run, we are going to find that host leadership is going to be a better long-term way to engage people, to build relationships and engage in the relationships in all organizations is what leads to performance.
All research in the HR field that I have seen in the last 10 years points to engagement as the secret tool. If you have engaged people in the organization, then all of the other things are going to work. All of your great strategies, your great HR policies, your great narrative, all of the worthwhileness that you have will pay off.
If you don’t have engaged people, none of the rest of that stuff is really going to have much impact. It seems to me that the host guest relationship is all about engagement. If we start thinking of ourselves as leaders, as hosts, and the people in our organizations or teams as our guest, think- What would we do in that situation? All of a sudden, a whole new paradigm of leadership and engagement opens up to us.
Mark, in your book, you talk about both planning and flexibility. Stepping forward and back. How does that play out here in your host leadership concept?
Often people want, when they begin to be leaders, things to be organized. The idea is if you plan enough, then there will be no surprises. Now, people like you and me who have been around a bit, we know that in real life, no matter how well you plan, there are always surprises. There are unexpecteds. There are always accidents. There are always things that happen. They might be dreadful. The might be fantastic. That is life.
Mark, a little bit like Murphy’s law?
Murphy’s Law is things going badly. It can be things that are going outstandingly well., completely at will or with serendipity. It’s really good.
The thing is as a good host, you have to respond to that. Anyone who has been a host and likes to have people over to their house or wherever will know that. Somebody will spill a drink, a glass of wine on the nice carpet, or two women will show up wearing the same dress and it will be unfortunate, you know. These little things happen, and as the host, we have to respond.
It is a combination of great planning and great responses to being a host. That is how it works. The same is true of host leadership. Yes, we want to plan. Yes, we want to think things through in advance.. Yes, we want to succeed. When things begin to move, we need to be flexible. I speak in the book about it in the back as you say. Host leaders step forward to make things happen. They step back to see how things are going and if there are any unfortunate accidents. Then they both step forward to build on the great stuff, sort out the bad stuff, whatever.
It’s not about the host being the center of attention. Anyone who has been to a party where the host was the center of attention has seen bad hosting. It’s boring when the host hogs the space, and host leadership is the same. The host leader doesn’t want to hog the space. They want to be there when they are needed and then they want to step back. Not disengage, but kind of keep an eye on things, seeing how things are going.
Stepping back allows for people stepping then forward and can engage, do their stuff, and straightforward. So this very active stepping forward and back, I write about in the book, about various different roles. When I was writing the book with great research on what great hosts and great leaders do, there was lots of ways to think about how I could actively step forward and then also actively step back to allow other things to happen.
We are going to have to wrap up here in a couple of minutes, but I wanted to thank you because you are very kind and you talk about BNI in your book, so all the BNI members, pick up a copy of the book, Host: Six New Rules of Engagement by Mark McKergow. See BNI mentioned prominently on pages 172 and 173. You talk a little bit about givers gain, which of course, my members will know very well. Do you want to just comment on that piece of your book before we wrap up?
Absolutely, Ivan. I think givers gain is a fantastic philosophy. It is a very hostly philosophy. The idea, as I am sure the listeners will know is that you give to get back, but it is not a direct transaction. You have to give first and then you build a relationship and stuff starts coming back in all kinds of ways. Hosts put other people first.
The host does their planning beforehand, but when the guests arrive, the host has to put the guests first. Givers gain is like that. You put other people first and you give them stuff and you build a relationship and in time and as things develop, things come back.
One of the things we have seen in the UK and the US as well is perhaps a generation of some leaders in some businesses who seem to be very good at putting themselves first and paying themselves enormous salaries, disconnected from their employees. This generates resentment and it doesn’t build engagement, honestly, for the most part.
The givers gain philosophy is a very, very powerful way of operationalizing this idea of putting other people first and good stuff will happen.
All of these points really resonate in BNI, I think, because engagement is absolutely core to a successful BNI group, and your concept of host leadership is brilliant and it is perfect for us. If you are listening to this podcast, go check out Mark McKergow. His book is Host: Six New Roles of Engagement. You can get information on it by going to hostleadership.com. Mark, any parting word?
Just to say thank you so much, Ivan. It was great to be with you here. The book is on Amazon.com. Of course, there is a Kindle edition as well so anyone anywhere in the world can get a hold of it in seconds. It has been a pleasure writing it and sharing the ideas with you over the last years that we have been doing it. I am looking forward very much to continuing to do that with you and all the BNI members.
Well, thank you very much. For those of you who don’t have a Kindle but you have the old school version of a real printed book, go to page 17. You will see that Mark talks about BNI there. Mark, thank you so much for being on the podcast. I appreciate it. Back to you, Priscilla.
Okay, great. Thank you, Mark and thank you, Ivan. I think that is it for this week. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by the GlobalNetworkingShow.com, which is hosted by Andy Lopata and Dr. Ivan Misner. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.