Let’s start with a fact: servant leadership is more than a buzzword. Servant leadership is more than a leadership strategy. I believe the core of servant leadership is the mindset. Leaders that are willing to put their employees first and serve them takes confidence and courage. My guest today is Dwight Hunt, President, and CEO of B3 Group. We look at the power of servant leadership. Dwight shared how servant leadership has allowed for the growth of B3 Group. They reached #109 on the 2019 Inc 5000 list. Servant leadership will help you lead your team to fast growth too. Tune-in to discover how you can leverage the mindset of a servant in your leadership development.
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Dwight Hunt: The Transcript
Target Audience: Dwight Hunt is the President and CEO at B3 Group Incorporated. Dwight Hunt provides the company’s vision and strategic oversight of its growth. His singular mission focus is in leading the company and its team of talented professionals to deliver excellence in health IT services to both government and enterprise customers.
Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.
In order to provide that leadership is more than I am the Chief Executive Officer of the company, therefore I am a leader. That’s true from a title perspective. But leadership is much broader than just having a title or a position. Right. My experience in the military for 20 plus years is you earn not only the leadership or the respect of your subordinates, by how you conduct yourself. Part of that is pouring into them being attuned to their needs, being part of fair growth, fair promotions, they’re realizing what they wanted to do in a service. As long as you know, and part of it is also your rank, your experience. You coach, you mentor, those folks. And you know, I get great pleasure when I was in the service of seeing my subordinates grow as people and professionally and know that when they left my unit and went to another unit, that other unit was getting a better soul.
Welcome to Growth Think Tank. This is the one and only place where you will get insight from the founders and the CEOs of the fastest-growing privately held companies. I am the host. My name is Gene Hammett. I hope leaders and their teams navigate the defining moments of their growth. Are you ready to grow?
Gene Hammett [1:27]
Serving your employees, developing their skills, developing their mindset, transforming them into leaders? Does that sound pretty good? But who has the time for that? A lot of leaders I talked to want to develop their employees, but they’re so into the trenches, if you will, the day to day of the business. They’re so focused on, you know, what do they have to do to get done finishing their email list catching up on that attending meeting that they often delay, actually developing their employees and actually becoming the servant leader that they want to be. I say this because I know a lot of leaders tune in to this podcast that wants to be there. As a servant leadership is a kind of a guide to developing their people. They have Dwight hunt. He’s the CEO of B3 Group. They’re an IT service firm to the government, mostly Veteran Affairs. And he talks about the reason why they’ve grown so fast is 109 on the inkless, in 2019, it’s continuing to grow today is because of servant leadership, that thinking has made them grow really fast. Today, we talk about the core essence of servant leadership, we talk about what often gets in the way, which is you what you have to do, and I will let you in on that this big secret, you’re going to fire yourself. That’s the key to you growing and creating a servant leadership model or in your company. We also talk a little bit about what’s going on in the phases of development with COVID-19, as the White has had to change his approach from being the visionary leader to serving the company right now, with new projects, new insights, and new support. Today, we have a great interview for you. So hopefully you’ll tune in to the full interview, make sure you soak it in, and make sure you actually tell a friend about Growth Think Tank about how it’s changing the way you lead, the way you grow your business.
Thanks for tuning in here to Growth Think Tank. Really excited about sharing this with you. And before you run. I have done so many interviews in the last few weeks, I have such an exciting time to share with you that those interviews have been organized into the 12 core principles of fast-growth companies. So all you have to do to get that is going to genehammett.com/worksheet. So you can get the 12 principles and I’ve been able to go in there and find which episodes will align to each individual episode when you subscribe to Growth Think Tank, you will find exactly what you need so that you can move forward. And many of them haven’t been published yet, depending on when you’re hearing this, but you can tune in to the date that means the most to you. Here’s the interview with Dwight.
Gene Hammett [4:13]
Dwight, how are you?
Dwight Hunt [4:15]
Good. Thank you.
Gene Hammett [4:16]
Excited to have you here on Growth Think Tank.
Dwight Hunt [4:20]
Happy to be here. Glad glad we could get to connect in the COVID-19 timeframe.
Gene Hammett [4:27]
Well, here we are. We’re going to talk about some really interesting stuff around leadership. I’m glad the company’s doing well. But the listeners in here probably have never heard a B3 Groups. So tell us just a little bit about what you guys do.
Dwight Hunt [4:42]
We essentially deliver digital transformation IT services acquisition support to the Department of Veteran Affairs.
Gene Hammett [4:50]
That’s pretty succinct. I appreciate what you guys are doing for our veterans.
Dwight Hunt [4:55]
It’s an honor to continue to serve being retired. Army myself, being able to manage a government contractor in the area that focuses on veterans. It’s nice. It helps me continue to serve where I felt called, you know, through my life to be, you know, servant leadership type position.
Gene Hammett [5:22]
Well, we’re gonna dive right into servant leadership. To put all this into context. You were on the Inc list. You were at 109 this past year, almost 60 million in revenues and they’ve grown past that about 200 employees. Give us just give us an idea of beyond just growing fast. What do you guys really proud of their B3 Group?
Dwight Hunt [5:46]
Yeah, I’m most proud of our ability to scale. As you know, fast growth doesn’t always mean complete success. It means success and revenue. But if you can’t scale if you can’t meet the customer’s needs if you can’t hire the right workforce, right there in you is your rub. So I’m most proud of our ability to scale our delivery, the quality of our delivery today is actually better than it was when we were smaller and had fewer contracts. So that’s probably my most proud moment of the company as a maturity piece.
Gene Hammett [6:22]
And given the size that you are, you’re no longer on the front lines, you’ve got a bunch of people doing the work for you, and they’re delivering better. So that’s a good testament to your leadership.
Dwight Hunt [6:32]
Well, thank you. It’s been an interesting transition. Brad, now obviously, we’re very hands-on for several years. And as we moved from, I was the best payroll person and the best accountant. And Brad was the best proposal writer right. So we were doing those and as we’ve hired directors and vice presidents, we felt we were building an organization structure, but to be honest with you, some people miss that direct connection that they have. I mean, we, we like to still be a small business mindset even went to an employee that Brad are accessible. But as we’ve grown, some people really miss that that connection that they’ve had with Brad myself, because we don’t do those roles any more than we used to do everything.
Gene Hammett [7:22]
I want to get back into this conversation about servant leadership. I was on your website doing some research and you had actually told me that one of the core factors for growth was this approach to leadership. So what is your definition of servant leadership?
Dwight Hunt [7:38]
Again, certainly, servant leadership really is in order to provide that leadership is more than I am the Chief Executive Officer of the company, therefore I am a leader. That’s true from a title perspective. But leadership is much broader than just having a title or a position right? you know, my experience in the military for 20 plus years is you earn not only the leadership or the respect of your subordinates, by how you conduct yourself, but part of that is also pouring into them being tuned to their needs, being part of their growth, their promotions, they’re realizing what they wanted to do in the service. As long as you know, and part of it is also your rank, your experience, your code to your mentor, those folks. And you know, I get great pleasure when I was in the service of seeing my subordinates grow as people and professionally and know that when they left my unit and went to another unit, that other unit was getting a better soldier. Right. And so that was kind of my philosophy growing up very fortunate, as a lone young lieutenant and Captain, a great mentor and coaches who Tennant, Colonel’s and colonels and majors that poured into me to make me better. So that’s kind of how I see servant leadership is you serve your subordinates, you coach and mentor them. And as they grow, you grow. And as they have success, you generally feel that success, even if you’re two or three layers above them, because you were a part of them.
Hold on for a second. Leadership is more than a title. This is one thing that I have seen over and over again, but you want people that have the authority to be leaders, but you also want people to step up. You want to encourage them servant leadership, what the conversation we’re having today is really about how do you get people to step up? How do you develop them? How do you use your skills to coach them up? How do you use your skills to negotiate with them? How do you use communication to engage them in a different way? All of these things are extremely important for you as a leader. Are you developing those skills Are you working on it? If you avoid it, you’re going to pay the price. Back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [10:07]
Do I one of the challenges I keep hearing consistently is… Yeah, that sounds great in theory, but I’m busy doing day to day work, I’m still driving sales, I’m still in the trenches, if you look at that, that’s not a bad thing.
Dwight Hunt [10:22]
Gene Hammett [10:22]
But how do you take the time to keep all of your stuff going and develop the people? Like, like what you’re talking about through servant leadership?
Dwight Hunt [10:33]
Well, you got to find the balance, right? It’s I’ll tell you two things. If you’re not trying to fire yourself from the job you’re in, if you’re a small business owner trying to go grow, you’re failing. You have to fire yourself from that job so that you can be the next level or the two levels leader that you need to be that has the breadth and division. Now the challenge of that is you’re comfortable down there, and that’s why you started this business. That’s where you’ve put your energy and you see that return on your personal investment. But you’re shortchanging yourself, you have to pull back, you have to start investing some of that into the next person who needs to replace you as the Director of Finance, which I was, and I was also the VP of operations. And I was also the CEO, right?
Dwight Hunt [11:19]
So I kept firing myself from those levels. So that we have the time to look across your organization and pour into the development of those next-level leaders. The one thing we did when Brandon first started out is we created an org chart. And we put our names in every single one of those jobs, right. And so there are 30 jobs, and they’re all filled with a couple of names. And the goal was to replace yourself and all of those jobs so that you’re eventually to the job. You’re supposed to be at the president CEO level or a managing principal for Brad. But you’ve got to have the passion to pour into those folks to know that your time and effort there makes them better and makes your organization.
Gene Hammett [12:03]
What I hear from that Dwight is really I think, quite ingenious. At a micro level, if you’re feeling the pressure this and don’t have that balance, you’re still focused on the, in the trenches, you’ve got to identify one or two people that you can build into so that you can remove yourself or let go of whatever functions they’re doing. And then you just continue to do that over time until you get to the point where now Dwight, you’re the CEO of 200 people, you’re still you know, you still have projects to work on, you’re still moving forward, but you are able to your balances really just across the organization, and the special projects that come up.
Dwight Hunt [12:43]
My jobs focus, so now I’m managing the risk of B3 Group, I’ve got to be six months 10 months 24 months out in front of four B3 is today if I’m not doing that for B3 Group, who is, right? and so I like in it also part of that’s some my military background right when I was a platoon leader was a Second Lieutenant I had as a platoon sergeant. They took care of things you had implicit trust on their experience with their capabilities. And you would say, this is what I need done. And then it got done. It kind of speaks to the professionalism of the noncommissioned officer we have in the army. And that’s kind of how I liken it, right? I need folks and I say, these are the things I need done. If you hire a director of HR, you hire them because they’re better at HR than you are. Can you do HR? Of course, you can. you’ve hired three or four people as you were growing your cousin in your hand and every family member after you exhaust that circle, what you’ve never done as a director of HR and your own small businesses, you’ve never filed the compliance report for 50 or more people for equal opportunity employment, and you’ve never found this and you’ve never thought, but you’ve never done those things. So you have to hire someone.
Dwight Hunt [14:00]
It knows those pieces that again, manage the risk you carry in human resources or contracts or finance, right? It’s always risk mitigation, you’re better off with that person running that department, because they’re better than you pour into them, get them where you have that trust that that relationship, and then you get focused on 18 months out and the next level, right, because that 18-month growth plan that you have, that’s going to show up tomorrow, right? And you got to be ready for that. It’s one thing to want to grow fast. But you got to be prepped to grow fast, you got to be able to sustain it. You can’t say, oh, what are we gonna, you know, all we’ve done is write 15 proposals this fall. Now we want all of them okay, well, now, what are we going to do? No, you’re gonna know what you’ve been knowing how many people that is how that impacts your organization, and have that forward-thinking and then let those folks that are subordinated if you will to you work the details and go through those churns. They can say, hey, we’ve got this all right, Hey, boss. I’m looking at the finance piece. We don’t have a big enough line of credit to manage this much work, right? So let’s get out there and work that piece. So it really is a trust and a relationship process for me personally.
Gene Hammett [15:19]
Why? I want to ask you, we have started this off, we’re recording this after I think we did a family account 38 days of a shelter in place here in Georgia, and you’re the visionary that’s looking 6-12 and 24 months out. I gotta be certain you probably didn’t see this coming.
Dwight Hunt [15:40]
True. I did feel good about COVID-19.
Gene Hammett [15:45]
But let me ask you the question behind this because none of us saw this coming. If you even you know, two months ago, if you said we’re all going to be in place at home and beaches are gonna be closed. No, you would have said you’re crazy. You’re out your mind. That’s not gonna happen here. But you now have the space to look at this probably with a lot of intensity, what has been the real changes the way you focus your energies and what you’re doing to mitigate risk and look at the future in this new era.
Dwight Hunt [16:15]
So it was kind of a phased approach, right? The first phase is to make sure everybody’s safe, secure, has the capability to work from home, and my customer accepts all of those, right? So we took every contract we had we ripped them apart and made sure that every contract I had could be the deliverables could be met during this COVID-19 process. I was able to invoice all of that work, and therefore no impact on my cash flow. So that’s phase one, right. Phase two now is how do I take How do I use this as an opportunity? Do I need office space? Should I have a 100% virtual company? So we’re going through some of these internal if you will to figure out who are we going to be when we go back, right? And then the third part of that is, as we go back, how, what processes are we going to do to open the building? What am I going to be responsible for? What’s the landlord responsible for? So we’re looking through that that and then I guess future is what are the opportunities for growth here? Right? We are very, very fortunate that our customer’s apartment Veteran Affairs is allowing us to provide all of our capabilities for the most part through a remote. So is that the new normal for us? Do I need to then think about the type of folks I hire for v3 that this is normal for them? That I’m now competing with virtual companies? Am I gonna have employees say, you know what, this hundred percent telework perfect, I’ve been looking for this my whole life? I don’t want to go back to my office, right.
Dwight Hunt [17:58]
So now we started thinking what is the neck? What’s been the impact of this on the culture of B3? How do we address that, and then make sure that we continue to have the right workforce that allows us to deliver to our customers in almost any circumstance, whether it be, you know, work from home or come into the office? But I think there’s a ton of opportunity. And that’s what I’m spending my time now, in 18 and 24 months, what are things that I could make an investment in today? That would bear me more fruit that maybe hadn’t been thinking about? Right?
Hold on. Dwight, I just said, Who will you be when we come back? what he’s referring to is, how will you be different? And how will you create the kind of company when we come back? You can look at this from two different perspectives. One is how you as a leader be changed because of COVID-19 and all of the things we’re going through, how will you prepare for the future coming out of this opportunities, but also what would the company look like? What was the strategy? Will you be going after the same customers? Will you be creating different programs and offers or products or services? Now is the time to be thinking about these things. Now, if you’re in the midst of, you know, cash flow crunches, then you want to make sure that you are protecting yourself and really getting that shored up. But if you’re outside of that, then you wouldn’t be looking at the opportunities to look at the business and your own evolution as a leader. And now is that time back to the interview.
Gene Hammett [19:34]
Dwight, I appreciate you’re walking us through that’s a very special time that we’re all going through. And I think looking at it as phases. I’ve had many clients that are, you know, afraid of what they’ve lost. And there’s they, they’re still stuck in phase one. And many of them are seeing a boom, and then they immediately went into phase two and three. So it’s a really good way to look at what you just laid out there. So we’ll make sure that get that to the right people in our audience. I want to go back to servant leadership, but also want to ask you a powerful question. We were talking before we cut the mic on about, you know, what do you do that’s a little bit different or counterintuitive. And you had mentioned, you know, when you were working in this business in the early days, you never really thought about the money of something. Now, as a business owner, your first indication is, well, how can you do that? How could you even create a business? So what did you mean by your exact phrase was here it is never focused on the money.
Dwight Hunt [20:39]
Right? So again, I think if you go Clearly, the purpose of having a business is to make a profit. Brad likes to say we are a.com, not a.org. Right? But at the same time, if you spin again if your focus is every dollar every nickel every piece that you have to make on every proposal that we partner with someone, it’s sometimes it’s short-sighted for the bigger picture. Again, as we were starting out, we wanted to be the best partner with whoever we could find a partner to partner with on the OT Ford contract vehicle. The Department of Veteran Affairs had the predecessor of the contract vehicle we have. The only way B3 survived back then was finding people who wanted to put us onto their teams, it was up to them to decide if we were a good partner. So instead of going in there focused on what our bill rate is and the uplift and all those pieces, we just focused on really doing a good job for him delivering good writing for Brad compliance, check oversight for me, hiring good folks to put on-site with them if it was an old side project. We focused on that and by creating adding a high-quality product, if you will because the product was us and our services to that company.
Dwight Hunt [22:09]
We’ve soon become a preferred partner for a lot of folks because they trusted us, they knew when you put v3 on the team, and you gave us two FTS or three f two E’s, you’re going to get a good proposal from Brad overside compliance check for myself and two to three good folks on your team to deliver to that customer. And then you don’t have to worry about us. We’re going to do deliverables on time we’re going to get our folks on ramped on time. My invoices are going to be on time. I mean, all of that was going to churn I had was no issue for you, as sincerely I was your customer. Right. So that was our approach. To your point, we may have should have thought about profitability more and should have maybe focused on margins and those types things, but because of where Brad was in his personal life, not married, no children. I was retired from the army. You know, our level of risk was certainly different than possibly someone saying, Hey, I’m gonna quit the job I have today start a brand new business, and I could have no revenue loss between the old job I had and this new business. We were not in that model, we were in a little more flexible model that we can better
Gene Hammett [23:32]
Appreciate walking us through that. I want to wrap this up with mistakes. Is there a mistake? I know. This is you know, there was like, where do I start? But is there a mistake that that comes to mind that you can think of that you had to face and servant leadership was was something that you really leaned on and said, you know, how do I serve better here? What is that moment is there a something that comes to mind?
Dwight Hunt [24:02]
I don’t know if I can tie it into the servant leadership pocket but for us a small business, cash flow is king probably didn’t realize that and banking relationships. So I guess I’ve had to flip it, I would have found a bank sooner that shared my values. And that was interested in me. I learned a very hard lesson that not all banks are created equal. They all have different business models, which again, I didn’t, I didn’t understand that. So I didn’t have that right banking relationship where they were pouring into me as a customer because they saw the growth, the potential growth we had, right. So if I had a lesson learned that’s I would have found anything you outsource, would we outsource some accounting and obviously banking and those type things. The mixture that the outsourced organization at least shares your vision and your culture to some extent.
Dwight Hunt [25:07]
Some will say if it’s not part of your culture, just outsource it, it doesn’t matter, I would probably argue a little bit, especially on the accounting side, when we were had really, really rapid growth. I didn’t get the attention of the accounting firm that I expected, because we had to be one of the fastest-growing organizations that they had. And they didn’t treat us that way. They didn’t recognize that they didn’t provide us what I felt the coaching and the mentoring to say, Wow, we’re looking at you guys books, and you guys are really growing fast. Have you thought about a, b or c? So it’s probably I would have searched more for a banking relationship, that that understood our vision and believed in it and poured into it. And I have that now today and it’s amazing when you get that supporting cast that sees you and believes in you, that pours into you, and helps, and it’s been fantastic.
Gene Hammett [26:08]
Well, that’s a very good insight. And I announced today that’s probably even more so necessary to have that good relationship with the bank for many reasons. Dwight, thanks for being here on the podcast.
Dwight Hunt [26:19]
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Gene Hammett [26:21]
I just love this conversation, having an in-depth talk about servant leadership with a founder and the CEOs of companies really is kind of my jam. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed being along for this ride. I create this content for you as a leader. We all have to go through defining moments. This just happens to be one where we’re all going through it at the same time. We’ve it’s unprecedented. You’ve heard this before, but you have to evolve and change as a leader. And now things are different. So love you being here to connect with me to take in this content. Hopefully, you’re doing something with it. If you’re not, I’m going to put a spotlight on that. Why are you not changing things while you’re not putting new projects and on the table so that you can actually be the leader that your team deserves?
Gene Hammett [27:08]
My name is Gene Hammett, I work with companies that go through the defining moments. And these leaders really are evolving. And they know evolution is very important to their success. I talked with Dwight about that, really a great conversation about how you must evolve to really be the leader that your team deserves over time. And it’s different from 2 million to 10 million to 20 million to 100 million. There’s been a constant evolution. If you feel like that in your own world. Make sure you reach out to me I’d love to get to know you. Just go to firstname.lastname@example.org, that’s my email address. And we can connect and it’s not about me selling you something. It’s about me serving you to get more clarity around who you are, where you’re going, and what’s standing in your way. As always lead with courage. See you next time.
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