Author speaks at Leadership LIVE

James C. Hunter believes to lead is to serve.

The author of the best-selling book, “The Servant,” spoke about the seven principles of leadership to about 500 people Tuesday at the second Leadership LIVE event.

Hunter, of Detroit, has been teaching leadership for 36 years and said servant leadership has exploded around the world in the last 15 years. Some of his clients include the U.S. Military, Johnson & Johnson, American Express, Nestle and Proctor & Gamble.

About 200 people attended the morning seminar and about 500 people attended the luncheon to welcome Leadership Tyler Class 28 and to hear Hunter speak.

Hunter believes being a leader is not about being a boss.

“Everybody is a leader. That is rule No. 1 in the Millennium folks. Why? Because leadership is influence.”

He said being a leader could mean being a mother, a father, coach or teacher.

“Leadership is the mark you leave …,” he said.

Hunter said everything people need to know about leadership, they already know.

“Jesus said, ‘You want to be a leader? Now it’s time to serve,’” he said. “It all boils down to one simple rule — treat people the way you want to be treated. Be the boss you wish your boss would be …”

Hunter’s seven points of leadership are responsibility; skill; management/power; authority (influence); serving (love in action); coaching; and character.

Everyone believes in the seven principles of leadership. The question is “how to get it into your head to your heart and your heart to your habits,” Hunter said.


Leadership is defined as the skill of influencing people to enthusiastically work toward goals identified as being for the common good, with character that inspires confidence and excellence.

“Being a leader is an awesome responsibility,” Hunter said. “Leadership is not about your rights … it is all about your responsibilities.”


He said leaders are made, not born. Leadership is a learned or acquired ability. Becoming a leader is like becoming an athlete; it is not done intellectually by reading books about it.

“You can know all about something but never know it,” he said. “Your actions will always portray what you truly believe.”


Hunter said leadership is not synonymous with being a manager.

“Management is what you do,” he said. “Leadership is who you are.”

He said anytime a person has to exercise their power, it should be a bad day for them because their authority is broken down. Being always all about power will break down relationships, Hunter added.

“The question is not do you have power. The question is do you have authority with people,” he said.


Leadership is synonymous with influence – “the mark you leave.”

Hunter believes leadership is about moral authority.

“Authority is the skill of getting people to willingly do your will because of your personal influence,” he said. Power can be bought and sold, given and taken away while “authority is about who you are as a person,” he added.


Hunter believes people build their authority by serving people.

“All the great servant leaders in history talked about love,” he added, citing Jesus and Mother Teresa.

The most famous passage about love, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, says that love is about patience, kindness, humility, respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, honesty and commitment. It has nothing to do with feelings.

Love is the act of extending yourself. “Love is as love does,” he said.


“The great servants I know are pit bulls,” Hunter said. “They love hard and they spank hard.”

Great leadership is finding the sweet spot between hugging and spanking, he said.

Coaching is about motivation — lighting a fire within someone, not under them, Hunter said. What motivates people is leadership, mission, shared values, excellence, involvement and culture/community.

“Employees are not your greatest asset,” he said. “Good employees are your greatest asset.”


Character is moral maturity – “doing the right thing even when you don’t feel like it,” Hunter said. “Character development and leadership development are one.”

When a stimulus comes in, people choose a response, which is their moral character. Psychologists believe people make about 1,500 choices of character per day so people need to be aware of their choices, Hunter said

“We set a high bar of servant leadership today … We’re never going to get there but that’s OK,” Hunter said. “Continuous improvement is the goal, not arrival.

“Everybody says they believe in continuous improvement but you can’t improve unless you change … I’m nowhere where I need to be but I’m better than I used to be.”

Smittee Root, Leadership Tyler interim executive director, thanked Hunter for his “inspiring” message.

“Mr. Hunter’s speech on servant leadership really hit home,” Holli Conley said. “It’s the type of leader I want to be, and it was great to be inspired and encouraged by him to continue to strive for that.”

Ms. Conley, marketing/communications manager for the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau, is part of the new Leadership Tyler Class 28, which was introduced at the luncheon.

“I’m excited to join Class 28 of Leadership Tyler,” Ms. Conley said. “I look forward to networking with fellow Tyler business leaders, and I’m confident this course will give me the tools necessary to grow as a leader in our community.”

Presenting sponsor of Leadership Live 2014 was Brookshire Grocery Co. and director sponsor was the Tyler Morning Telegraph. Other sponsors included Mentoring Minds, the City of Tyler, Don Sciba/Creative Directions, Anonymous Fund at East Texas Communities Foundation, Precision Spine Care, Greater Texas Capital Corp., Bank of Tyler, Southside Bank, Texas Spine & Joint Hospital and East Texas Medical Center.

article courtesy of Tyler Paper

About Leadership Tyler

Leadership Tyler is an organization serving Tyler and Smith County, Texas, through our mission of equipping leaders to enrich our community. The more than 800 graduates of our programs can be found in leadership positions throughout our region.

Copyright © 2023  Leadership Tyler  All rights reserved.

Office Information

Leadership Tyler, Inc.
315 North Broadway,
Suite 202
Tyler, TX 75702


Follow: Facebook | LinkedIn