A Dealer in Hope
That’s G.J. Hart, CEO of Texas Roadhouse; a rapidly expanding, publicly traded franchise with 40,000 employees and 340 locations. G.J. and I had an intriguing conversation on March 11, 2011.
Gas was 35 cents a gallon in 1969. That same year, Neil Armstrong radioed, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
It was May, 1969 when five and half year old immigrant, Gerard Johan Hart, he prefers G.J., arrived in New Jersey. His mom had spent her teen years in Japanese concentration camps and his dad had been a member of the resistance. They landed with nothing more than two suit cases and a dog.
G.J. said his dad didn’t make the most out of life. While G.J. talked, it sounded to me like dad was a stubborn under-achiever. Sadly, dad didn’t expect G.J. to achieve either. “Dad never thought I would make anything of myself. He never instilled me with hope.”
G.J. said he learned early on that leadership is, “Getting people to exceed their own expectations.” I think it’s a message that springs right out of his own boots. He’s giving others what his dad didn’t give him, hope.
Today, at 53 and dad in his 80’s, G.J. doesn’t need dad’s approval and praise. But I could tell it would be nice for him to feel it.
Would you like to leap into dynamic leadership? Believe you can infuse others with hope.
Real leadership is dreaming bigger
for others than they dream for themselves.
How G.J. spots high potential leaders
I ask G.J. if he could spot emerging leaders. He didn’t rule out talent, education, or leadership presence, but he replied, “I can usually tell if they have the humility to make it.”
Arrogant people wrongly think they don’t need hope. Humble people enjoy it.
High impact leaders give hope to the humble. Napoleon explained, “A leader is a dealer in hope.”
Continued tomorrow: The younger leads the older …
How can leaders instill others with hope?
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What a wonderful statement: “Real leadership is dreaming bigger for others than they dream for themselves.”
Thanks for inspiring all of us to dream big.
Thanks for a good word.
You know how talking to someone is an opportunity to grow and learn. The statement you mention is my personal take on G.J.’s definition of leadership, “Getting people to exceed their own expectations.”
It’s something I can take away from our time together. It’s a way that he enriched my thinking.
A very informative and insightful post Dan. I takeaway many things from the post. It is very true that hope and humility together create dreams real. Hope with arrogance is only wish and perhaps never comes true. So, leaders can influse and instil others with hope by teaching them to be humble. Whether it is significant success or major failure, one has to learn to be humble in all the situations. And when a person is able to control his emotions, he starts achieving his hopes and dreams.
Quote of Napolean is very true ” A leader is a dealer in hope”. Leaders create hope even in hopeless situations. They create dream for non dreamers and inculcate in them the effort to pursue that dreams. And that it is the role of leadership. Put others and passive persons into action. Align and allow them move ahead. This is the way, how leaders can instil hope in others.
Thanks for the good word.
My take away from your comment is “put others and passive persons into action.” I think passive people are a source of opportunity. Beyond that, I think leaders would be wise to look for new leaders on the fringes of their organization. There may be people there waiting for a chance to shine.
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Just adding to the thought “High impact leaders give hope to the humble. Napoleon explained, “A leader is a dealer in hope.”
How different the workplace would be if we all ‘believed’ in each other instead of competeing with each other.
If people knew they could count on someone to ‘cheer’ them on …..opens the doors to endless possibilities.
This really was food for thought. Thank you.
It is very insightful that GJ when looking for emerging leaders looks for humility to be manifest. That is very counter-intuitive as humility is not a character quality that is high on the American list of values that culturally we admire. While other elements are also high in value I agree that finding humility is critically important.
Dan I just found your blog a few weeks ago and I am really enjoying it, thank you! You are inspiring us with real truths of leadership that can change the world!
I agree, humility isn’t always valued. It’s exciting to think there are organizations like Texas Roadhouse that look for humility in the people they hire.
Thanks for the good word. I stopped over to the City Team website. I see you are working with homeless people. You have my best wishes for the work you are doing.
…and I can’t help wonder if some of these we need to look for are amongst those that are dysfunctional. I am sure there are some in there…
Another great article. I appreciate your insights and read often!
Spotting humility … arrogance not needing hope. I’ll have to ponder these thoughts for a while.
Thanks for taking the time to leave an encouraging word.
Today, I came across Leadership Freak through twitter. This is a great article and surely a good must always dream big for others.
Thanks for your encouragement.
I still don’t understand why people do not see that Humility is a big strength possessed by many a great leader. Do you think the misconception is because the media tends to put a lot of hype around the “larger than life” type leadership style?
Dan such a great topic. Hope is the emotion that fuels each of us to move forward with optimism. Many of the business and career clients I coach find themselves stuck merely because they have lost hope and therefore have not moved into a plan. What I love about hope is that it costs us nothing to give and yet offers so much to another.
Looking forward to part 2!
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Loved this article. Thanks so much for sharing. My favorite part “leadership is, “Getting people to exceed their own expectations.” ” I’d like to be that kind of leader. Thanks again for sharing.
I’ve been following your blog for just over a week and a half now and it’s both stimulating and thought provoking – thank you.
I’m young and about to embark on a career, despite this relative inexperience I used to perceive arrogance and lack of compromise as the confidence needed to be a great leader. Yet I’ve come to find that those with compassion and humility as you describe, not only have the loyalty and trust of their followers but indeed empower them to do extraordinary things. Whereas the arrogant leaders are often later deserted and resented for exerting their power in a far less effective manner.
Certainly an argument for long-term gains over short-term delivery.
I recently did a paper that led me to Followership, a relatively undeveloped area in comparison to Leadership, but you may find it very interesting.
Thanks for leaving your first comment. I wish you success in your endeavors.
Research on followership is relatively young. I’d love to read your paper. If you like, email me at dan (at) leadershipfreak (dot) com.
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Dan, this was a great post. The traces of your “Leadership Freak” fairy dust is piling up on me. Thanks for being such a rich resource.
This article is a classic example of, the power of perseverance. Despite the shortcomings and disappointments in G.J’s life, what stood the test of time for him was “HOPE”. A quality that is rare and taken for granted. Because he had hope, he understood the importance of staying humble. You have to experience certain things in your life to value and cherish success and what’s to come. G.J is humble because, he has never forgotten where he came from, what it took to get to where he is and who he intends to become now and in the future.
I stay hopeful! Thanks for being an inspiration.
Another great post, Dan. Thanks!
Leaders – dreaming bigger for others than they can for themselves. As a teacher, this is my purpose with the addition of – and helping them see their potential! I think that ties with the theme of hope in your post and the comments provided here. As several have said, providing hope while showing humility is key for an effective leader. This creates a level of connection between the leader and those ‘following’.