Servant Leadership | Jerry Landry

"Leaders shouldn't expect trust. They should inspire trust and respect it when it comes." Jerry Landry, Episode 122

Leaders can’t expect trust—they need to earn it.

But what does it take to earn trust and be a servant leader?

Jerry Landry, inaugural director of the Technology Training Institute at Central Piedmont Community College, is here to share what he’s learned about leadership, including:

  • Why communication is key

  • How to conduct effective one-on-ones

  • The 3 things leaders have to be prepared to say

  • And more

Jerry will also share insights from his podcast Presidencies of the United States and reveal what the first 4 presidents can teach us about leadership.

Mentioned in this episode:


Jerry Landry: Leaders shouldn’t expect trust. They should inspire trust and respect it when it comes. Because it’s not necessarily a one-and-done deal.

Voiceover: You’re listening to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast with professional speaker, coach and consultant Nicole Greer.

Nicole Greer: Welcome everybody to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. My name is Nicole Greer, and they call me the vibrant coach. And I am here with a wonderful guest, Jerry Landry. Let me tell you a little bit about Jerry. Jerry is the inaugural director of the Technology Training Institute at Central Piedmont Community College. 

In his career in the learning and development field, Jerry has committed to creating an engaged learning space for colleagues that fosters creativity, innovation, and lifelong learning that incorporates concepts of continuous improvement for his team’s people-centric strategic plan to anticipate future development needs at the institution. And he’s a very successful podcaster. Please welcome to the show, Jerry. How are you?

Jerry: Nicole, thank you so much for having me. I’m doing well. Hope you are as well.

Nicole: I’m doing really well. And I’m so grateful you’re on the show, because two things qualify you. Number one, you are the director of the Technology Training Institute at Central Piedmont Community College, just like I mentioned in your bio, which makes you a serious leader. But you also have a hobby and a podcast about studying the leaders of our nation. So will you tell everybody a little bit about your podcast before we get started on everything else? I would love for them to know about it.

Jerry: Absolutely. So I’m the host of the Presidencies of the United States. And basically this podcast I’ve been doing this since 2017 now. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. In my podcast, I research and I try to go in a chronological order. I research each presidency. 

But instead of just focusing on the one person who is in the office of president, I also try to look at some of the folks that you may not know quite as much about, but who in their own way provided leadership or lack thereof. And contributed to the events that helped to shape the presidency, helped shape the United States, and helped shape the world. 

You know, I really do a deep dive. And for a podcast that comes out every other week, at least, sometimes I’m able to do a little more. And doing this for six years now. I am only at the presidency of James Madison. So if that gives you any indication of how much of a deep dive I do, James Madison was our fourth president. So it is a deep dive. But it’s also I think it’s a story that’s worth telling.

Nicole: I think that’s fantastic. So, you know, one of the things I do here on the podcast, and I’m going to come back to James Madison in the three before him. But one of the things that I do on the podcast is I ask people to give me their definition of leadership. So you’ve got this definition that comes from your own experience, but then also these deep dives you’ve been doing. So tell me a little bit about what you think leadership’s all about.

Jerry: Absolutely. So with my definition of leadership, I’m really all about innovation. You know, and inspiration. I think that leaders aren’t necessarily leaders just because of a title or position. People do come to choose their leaders. And I believe they choose people who help them to see the possibilities and connect to opportunities. And in my own work, but then also in my work with presidencies, I think that comes across. 

You know, even though you have people in certain positions of authority, you see varying results. And case in point as I’m going through the presidencies, you see some presidencies that are more successful than others. And I think it really comes down to leaders shouldn’t expect trust, they should inspire trust and respect it when it comes. Because it’s not necessarily a one-and-done deal. 

And, you know, there are so many examples in presidential history of that, you know. I think that some of the strongest leaders are the ones who are able to inspire that trust and help folks to see that their leadership and working together will get to a better place. But it’s in that inspiration that really that’s where the magic happens.

Nicole: I couldn’t agree more. Yeah. So I love your answer. He said, you know, first of all, I think innovation is really important. And that is why he’s gotten his position where he’s at over at Central Piedmont Community College. But then also your study is saying and don’t miss this everybody you might want to write this down, get a pen, get a paper, get off your peloton. So here’s the thing. He said leaders need to inspire trust, not expect trust. I think that is a wonderful, wonderful line. That is tweetable, everybody. 

Okay, so that is fantastic. Yeah. So, you know, leadership is inspiring people. It is, you know, producing innovation along the way. So you personally, in your own journey, let’s talk about your own journey. What are some important skills you’ve developed as a leader that’s landed you in the position of a pretty important spot over at Central Piedmont Community Colleges as a director?

Jerry: I think one of the things that I learned early on is listening is important. It’s good to be able to have ideas, it’s good to be able to communicate and share. But a key part of that communication is what you’re taking in, what you’re listening to, and really trying to make sure that you understand where others are coming from. Because I know for me as a leader, something that’s key is understanding the big picture, and understanding all the different components. 

And I think we have at times, we get so lost in what we’re doing as an individual contributor, we don’t necessarily see how that fits into a larger schema. And for me being in a leadership role, I need to understand that not just for myself, but for my team, for partners that we’re working with. And then make sure that everybody’s on the same page. Communication is so key. And I think it takes a bit of, for me, I practice servant leadership. 

I feel that I’m here to help to serve my team, to help serve this institution. And because I connect to a larger mission, you know. As a community college, we are here, we are focused on our students in our community. And it doesn’t matter where you sit at the college, even if you’re not student-facing. That’s something that I think of every day, you know, how am I helping to serve our larger mission and help serve our larger community. 

And I think that’s key to leadership. And I think that’s helped me to grow as a leader. Because, again, I’ve had times that even not being in that managerial aspect or that role, that position, people have followed my lead. And because they know, I know where they’re coming from, they know where I’m coming from. And they’ve given their trust to me. 

And that’s something that I never take for granted. I appreciate every day. I had somebody, and it’s interesting, because the term people leader has been in the industry for a bit. And I mentioned it once to a colleague, who I was in an interim role, and she was reporting in to me. I mentioned the term people leader, and she’s like, Jerry, I’m gonna stop you there. 

I’m not going to use that term just for anybody. I will call you my leader, because I believe in you. You have inspired me. But I choose my own leaders. I may have a manager, but I choose my leaders. And that’s something that I am always grateful for when it happens. And I don’t expect it. I don’t expect that it will necessarily last unless I show up each day, ready to be a leader.

Nicole: I love that. And I think this is such an enlightened employee. You know, I may have a manager but I choose my leaders. That is so good. Oh my gosh. And so I love what, don’t miss this everybody what he’s saying. He said, first of all, what the greatest skill a leader has is listening. It’s one thing to have good ideas but to be a great communicator is a whole different thing. And so you said I practice servant leadership. 

So servant leadership has been around for a long time and Robert Greenleaf was kind of the guy that put this thing on the map. I’ve got a definition here. Servant leadership puts the needs growth and well-being of their followers first. So tell me a little bit about how you do that, Jerry. How do you put the employees needs, growth and well-being first? What are some things that you do, strategies that make that happen?

Jerry: Well, for me, it’s first of all, I’m not going to ask anybody else to do anything that I wouldn’t be willing to do. And my teams, the teams that I’ve led previously. And currently, I hope and I think that they know me well enough to know, I’m always willing to roll up my own sleeves, work alongside them. And I also want to help to develop them as individuals, as professionals. And that can be tough. 

That can be a tough place for folks to be, and especially where I, I tried to have the onus be on them. I constantly ask, you know, where would you like to go? And for some folks, that’s a tough question. They may not have ever been asked that question, or they may not have ever been in a place where that was, that was something that they felt empowered to do. 

And so being a servant leader, for me is persistence and patience, and trying to create a safe space for my team members, so that they can grow, so that they can learn, and so that they can take up that baton and run with it. I’ve been very privileged to work with amazing folks that inspire me on a daily basis. And I can only hope that I’ve given just an iota of that back to them. 

And that’s, for me, that’s when I know I’ve done my job, right is when I see them taking that baton and running with it and growing and learning. And for me, as a leader, it helps to strengthen our team. If we have individuals in our team that are growing and learning, and embracing new ideas and new concepts and trying new things and thriving, then we as a team can do so much more for the larger institution. And we can provide an inspiration for other teams. This is the way things can be. 

And that’s what I see as servant leadership. I want to do that. I end every one on one meeting that I have with my team members asking what can I do for you, because that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to try and create that safe space and remove barriers if need be. If nothing else, just create the space that if it’s a barrier that I can’t move that they can.

Nicole: I love what you’re saying. I have heard that many times, and I’ve never heard it since and it just rolled right out of your mouth. I totally agree. This is so important. He just said the leader’s job is to remove barriers for people. I mean, if you, if you’ve got people on your team, and they can’t get their work done, the leader has to jump in there and help them. And I just love that. So creating that bridge for them. 

And you know what you’re saying about empowering them. And don’t miss this everybody. He says he sits down and he has this thing called one on ones with people. And, you know, I think sometimes I’m not sure why Jerry, but sometimes people think, you know, my people don’t want to meet with me. I’m like, no, they’re dying to meet with you. They want to know, first of all, how do you get as far as you’ve gotten your career, number one. 

And number two, they need somebody to run their thoughts past and you need to be the person they do that with. So how do you conduct your one on ones? Tell me a little bit about how that might look. Because I love this idea of doing that and removing barriers and creating a safe space.

Jerry: And so for me, it really is trying to get to know the individual. And, you know, we hear about different communication styles and trying to know, not only your own style, but being able to identify that with team members. And so we have done, I haven’t had a chance to do it with my current team, but with previous teams, we have had team building exercises where we’re able to learn together our social styles or our communication styles. 

And that’s information that’s pivotal to a leader. You want to know with your team what’s the most effective way to communicate with them? What are their needs? What do they need in order to truly receive the message that you’re giving them? And sometimes with some folks, they want that direct communication, just tell me straight. What do you need from me, what do I need to do A, B, C period? 

But then there are other folks that maybe need to ask questions. And it may be that they’re not immediately asking questions. They need a minute to process and then the questions come. And so getting to know your team members and responding in kind, making sure that their needs are fulfilled through working with them. 

So that they in turn can do what they need to do in their respective roles. Make sure that they feel that they have been heard, that you’ve actually listened, that you’re getting them, and that you value them, and that they’re, they can be fulfilled. And it takes time. It takes time to get to know, folks. And one of the things that I always tell folks who are considering going into a leadership role, whether that’s volunteer leadership, or a more formal role, or whatever. 

I think that leaders have to be prepared to say three things. Please, I don’t know, and I’m sorry. And those can be difficult, each in their own way. But for me, that encompasses leadership. It’s saying, you know, I can order you to do something all day long. Can I really get you to do it without your buy-in?

Nicole: The answer is no, you cannot.

Jerry: No. You can’t. I mean, you know, even if, and that’s why I’ve never leaned into being a micromanager. Because I know that’s not going to, that’s not going to get that motivation. I need a team to buy into things. And thus I’ve got to, I’ve got to invite them to the table to be a part of the solution, instead of just saying, this is the Jerry solution. And, you know, you’re going to do exactly what I say. It’s not going to work that way. 

But then also being able to admit, you know, I’m not going to have all the answers, none of us do. You know, I am going to have times that I’m going to say, I just, I don’t know. I may be able to find the answer, I may never have the answer, I don’t know. It may also be an answer that we come up with together as a team. I don’t know. And then I’m sorry. 

You know, we all make mistakes, including leaders, we are people just like anybody else. Also, sometimes just being there with folks who are just going through a hard time and saying, I’m sorry, this is a tough time for you. It’s that human element. And to me, in all I do and even working with technology education, people think of it as just software and systems and tech. 

It’s ultimately about people because the systems, the technology is a tool, but it’s only a tool when somebody takes it up to use it. And so again, that’s all about people. And for me, that’s where all this comes into. It’s the human element. And it’s exciting, and it’s beautiful and magic things can happen. It can also be challenging and frustrating, and, you know, complex and messy. And that’s all part of being a leader.

Nicole: Yeah, I agree. That’s one of my favorite things. You know, I tell people don’t try to be perfect as a leader, everything gets to be messy if it needs to be. That’s one of my little lines. I love that. But when you were talking about you know, there’s software, there’s systems, all this stuff in tech. But really, it’s the user experience, isn’t it? It’s the employee experience. Yeah. That’s fantastic. That’s fantastic. All right. So please don’t miss what he said. Three things leaders got to be prepared to do, or say. 

First one is, please. I just had a whole conversation today, Jerry, with people about how important manners are, you know. A thank you, and a please, and you’re welcome. It’s not a problem. You know, we all go to the Chick-fil-A and love, “my pleasure”. So you know, just a little bit of that goes a very long way. And then he said, being able to be humble enough to say, I don’t know, and humble enough to say, I am sorry, because we all make mistakes. 

So I think those are all beautiful skills of leaders. Well, let me let me flip the script just a minute. And I want to showcase your genius about our first four presidents. So would you kind of take us through what skills did George Washington have? And then take, you know, kind of take us through what leadership skills do you see in our first four presidents? What can we learn from them?

Jerry: Absolutely. And it’s interesting because these are four individuals and especially with the founding father generation, they can often be kind of lumped together and these monoliths, you know these figures on a pedestal, but in each of them, you see different leadership styles. You see different strengths and you see different flaws. 

So Washington starting with him. Washington was one who understood that he didn’t know everything. He realized, you know, yes, there are certain areas that he brings certain strengths to the table. Also, he understood his gravitas by the time he became president. He for years had already been referred to as His Excellency. He was he already he was, if we had a superstar in those days, it was George Washington. 

He was the guy that everybody knew, and would rally around. But he realized that in terms of governance, in terms of actually making the government run, he was going to need some folks who were better than him at certain skills. And so he pulled together a team, and especially like his first cabinet, where this was just an amazing dream team of folks that he relied on. 

He relied on their expertise, he wanted to hear their opinions, before he would make a choice. He really wanted them to have that seat at the table to be able to help to craft policy. Now, as time went on, it didn’t go so well. You know, folks started leaving. He ended up with some second-tier folks, because the top-tier folks were not wanting to be involved in politics at that point. It was getting pretty precarious. 

And so then you get to John Adams, who inherited this second-rate cabinet from Washington. And John Adams was not so much of a collaborator. He was more, he was a brilliant individual, he knew so much about so many different things, that he didn’t really feel like he needed that input. And so he ended up at times, at odds with his cabinet. They would end up, you know, going rogue and doing things behind his back. 

And then he found out about it, and he ended up and he stuck with this cabinet for too long. He didn’t make the tough call to just say, you know what, I need to get rid of them because he didn’t feel like he was in a position. And it was a tough act to follow. You know, when you’re following George Washington as president, anybody’s going to be intimidated. 

But especially John Adams, who was somebody who he admitted that he had a certain vanity. He had a certain weakness in that respect. When he finally got to the point that he felt comfortable enough as President to get rid of this cabinet, these challenging folks, he brought in great folks. But by that point, the damage had been done. He was voted out after one term. 

And so then you end up with Thomas Jefferson, who Jefferson was very much an image person. He liked to have things a certain way and have folks think of him in a certain way. And he, with that he would have people who would do things for him. You know, he didn’t want to get into the muck and the dirty details. He would have folks, you know, write articles in his defense, do things on his behalf. But he also had a certain amount of control. He liked that certain amount of control. And that even came to the social sphere. 

So he liked having these small dinners where he could kind of help to control the conversation. He knew everybody at the table, you knew what they were talking about. And he could maintain a place at the center of it and help to guide things along. And that would help both socially but also he had a political element to that. Now he was able to get things done. 

However, he also didn’t necessarily invite in as much perspective as he should have. And case in point with his policy towards the Navy. He ended up, he wanted this gunboat Navy, which was basically it was set up for coastal defense. These weren’t like seagoing vessels, ocean-going vessels. It was intended he just wanted the Navy to be there for defense. And so then you get to James Madison, who was his chosen successor, he wanted Madison to take his place. 

But again, like Adams with Washington, Madison had some big shoes to fill. He wasn’t Thomas Jefferson and people didn’t see him as Thomas Jefferson. In fact, some folks saw him as leading Jefferson astray. Kind of how folks thought that Alexander Hamilton led Washington astray from his ideals and principles. But you end up with Madison as president. 

And as I’ve been going along with the Madison presidency series, it’s just been fascinating to learn more about him, because typical portrayals of Madison is that he was just, he was kind of bumbling, he didn’t really know what was going on. He was, you know, he was out of control. You know, there were other forces at work, other politicians, other factions that were really controlling things. 

And as you study Madison, you get to know he had a little more control than people give him credit for. And he also had a way of kind of making things happen behind the scenes. You know, and case in point, one of his, he had quite a few attorneys general. But there’s this one who ended up, he was going more towards the opposition, and Madison had never really been close to him. And so he sets up the situation. 

So at that point, with the Supreme Court, each seat was designated for a certain geographic region. And so the seat came up for the geographic region of the attorney general at that point, who was a man named Cesar Rodney. And instead of, and you think the Attorney General, and even at that point, it was the, you know, this person who’s considered like a legal expert. This is a person on the national scale, who is a renowned legal expert. Instead of choosing Rodney, Madison chose the comptroller of the Treasury. 

This guy, Gabriel Duvall, who folks in Washington knew, but he wasn’t really well known outside of the circles. And he really hadn’t been in the law. For a number of years, he had been working in the Treasury Department. And Rodney took this as an affront and resigned. And it was, he has, it’s an amazing draft letter, which is just going off about how, you know, mistreated he’s been. 

But then he puts that aside and thankfully saved it for scholars to be able to look at 200 years plus in the future. But the letter that he actually sent Madison was I hereby resign as Attorney General of the United States, it was this very cold and curt letter. My theory is that Madison pushed him to resign, because the very next day, he was writing to the person who was going to be his successor. 

So it didn’t, it wasn’t out of the out of the blue, that Rodney was going to resign. And I haven’t been able to find anything that, you know, there was really any indication that he was going to resign, but he had somebody lined up the next day. And that was unusual at that point. They didn’t necessarily plan for, you know, okay, well, somebody’s leaving, here’s the next name, unless they knew they wanted them out, or they were about to resign or whatever. 

So in there are a couple of instances of that in Madison’s tenure, that you get a sense that he was a little more of a political player an under the table political player, than folks really give him credit for. And that’s been fascinating to study. And to kind of help to reshape the narrative of the Madison presidency. That’s one of the things that I love about the podcast is just being able to find these hidden gems. These stories that folks don’t always hear about, and be able to share those with a wider audience.

Nicole: I love it. And so tell us the name of your podcast and where we can find it.

Jerry: Absolutely. So it’s the Presidencies of the United States, so that’s presidencies, plural. And you can go to my website at I’m on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all you know, Presidencies podcasts. I’m on all the major platforms. So any, wherever find podcasts can be found. I should be there.

Nicole: I know. That’s right. That’s fantastic. Yeah. And Jerry was celebrating with me that he’s at a really pivotal point where with his podcast where it’s gonna probably, it’s gonna go nationwide, right? You’re gonna be epic around the world. That’s fantastic. But so go check that out and listen to more I know you were just like hanging on every word just now because I was, and listen to more what he has to say about our presidents. 

But if we go back to our subject at hand, which is, you know, how do we build a vibrant culture, we got to have great leadership is the number one thing. And you said that Washington had this amazing gravitas. And so just in case those of you out there that are like, what in the world is a gravitas? 

Okay, so gravitas actually it means seriousness and importance. And some people have an authority or a presence that is called gravitas. It’s an importance of manner, it causes feelings of respect, and trust in others. When these people walk in the room people take notice. When they speak others listen. So it’s just kind of like this natural, I don’t know, magnetism or something that they have. 

So I gotta ask, because everybody loves the Hamilton musical. How accurate is our Hamilton musical? In terms of portraying Hamilton and Washington? What do you think? It doesn’t really matter to me because I love it no matter what. But what are your thoughts on the Hamilton musical?

Jerry: There are some liberties taken but also, and especially because it’s based around Ron Chernow’s Hamilton, which is an amazing biography. Ron Chernow, I love all the biographies that he’s written thus far that I’ve read. He did one about Washington after the Hamilton one, but it takes some liberties in order to, you know, you’ve got to have that spice, that verve whenever you’re doing a musical. But by and large, it, it does really get to the story. 

And, you know, it’s an amazing musical. Constantly having folks sending clips and everything of the anytime Hamilton comes up. So I just loved that it was a new approach in helping to reintroduce to new generations, this history. Getting them excited about history, you know, that’s something that I hope I do on my podcast. I don’t think I’m ever going to get to the level of Lin-Manuel Miranda but, you know, one of these days, who knows?

Nicole: We just don’t know, you’re gonna come at it from a different perspective. Because I mean, gosh, those lyrics are just beyond genius. All right. So Washington had gravitas. And then what I heard you say, because again, one of the questions I often ask and you know, is that, you know, certain leaders have skills that serve them hugely. Like Washington’s ability to, you know, you said he didn’t understand everything. 

But he had this wonderful gravitas And he had superstar people on his team, which just goes back to you know, it’s all about recruiting the right people. And then you said with John Adams that you saw, like, really a challenge or a weakness, which he wasn’t a collaborator. But then the next breath, you said, he was brilliant. Isn’t that crazy that he could not see he needed to be a collaborator? I mean, people have this thing called a blind spot, right?

Jerry: Oh, yes. And anytime you study leadership, and, you know, case studies of leadership, everybody’s got a blind spot. It’s just, if you have an awareness of it, and do something to minimize it, or if it becomes the shadow that you never get out from.

Nicole: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. So, you know, here’s this, here’s this guy, John Adams, you know, and he, and also, I love the fact that you said that he took way too long to get the right people on the bus.

Jerry: Yes. And that’s important. And that’s part of the, that was part of the premise of going into the podcast was, you know, it’s not just about one person. No one person can do everything. And it’s important to understand the people around them. The people that they either choose to have around them or you know, if they inherit a team, and what they do with that. And how they interact with those folks. 

If it becomes a situation where they create a team that is thriving and successful, or it’s a team that’s divided and just lost. That’s the key to leadership is making sure that team, no matter who’s on the team, you bring them together, you try and find what their strengths are, you try and engage with those strengths and connect them to a larger mission of the team. 

And, you know, there’s so many things that are outside of our control. But when we can make that happen when we get the right folks in place or connect the right strings. You just never know what innovation is going to happen. That’s just that’s so exciting about being able to lead a team, is seeing that in play.

Nicole: Yeah. And then we bet we’re back at the, you know, Jerry’s favorite word for leadership is innovation. That’s absolutely true. I love what you’re saying. And, and let’s just look at both Thomas and James for a minute. So you said, and listen, Jerry, I was just recently up at Monticello, I went on a tour with my daughter. 

And so, you know, in your little girl mind is going to be this huge, huge house. And then when I got there, it wasn’t quite as enormous as I thought. Plenty big, but it wasn’t like this giant mansion. But I had such a great time going through the house. And we when you said he was very much an image person, I was brought right back to his dining room that you were talking about with the goldenrod yellow walls that we were in. 

And then I could just see him in there. And I love what you said that he was trying to control the conversation. He was trying to control things. And I think that, you know, could we say that Thomas Jefferson was a bit of a control freak? Would that be overstated?

Jerry: I think that’s very much, you know, he was all about control. And you see that with Monticello with the entire estate. It was designed around him and around his life and his image. And he liked that. There is a reason why he went back to Monticello after he left the presidency. And by and large, that’s where he stayed, because that was where he felt comfortable. He felt like he was in charge. And that included the people, the individuals that he enslaved on the plantation. It was all about his little bubble of the world.

Nicole: Yeah, and, and I think that some of us have, you know, worked for somebody that was like wicked crazy smart. Like the guy with writing, right. Like, how he could write. What a genius in that he could put together, you know, the whole system up there at Monticello. Like my favorite thing was when you walk in the front, he’s got all kinds of like, these different things hanging on the wall. And they all have a meaning. 

And he’s messaging through all of it. It was just really quite brilliant. So if you haven’t been there, everybody, you gotta get up there and go check it out. It was really, really cool. But then they have this total side of them where it’s like, oh, my gosh, he’s brilliant. But he’s like a complete control freak. 

So again, it’s that leader that has that blind spot, and you know, he kind of had the world, he set this world around him. So he could be at the center, like the sun, I guess. So now I’m having a whole thing. We went in January, and we went to France, and we went to Versailles. And so it’s, have you been to Versailles, Jerry? 

Jerry: We have. Yes. 

Nicole: Yes. And so it’s just like, whoa, you know, so again, talking about people making themselves the center of the universe. That guy trumped them all. But anyway, okay, so Thomas Jefferson, and then we have James Adams, or excuse me, James Madison. And James Madison, I love what you said. He wasn’t Jefferson. But he had some big shoes to fill. And he became ultimately a very good political player. 

Now, as you listen to Jerry talk about that, I do think, to be a good leader, you do need to be able to play a little bit of politics. I’m not sure about running people out of office. But I do think being able to understand the politics in your organization is a huge skill.

Jerry: Absolutely. And that’s the thing. You know, folks say, oh, well, I’m not political, and I don’t like politics. Politics is, it’s just another word for how humans interact for that, that culture that’s created. And sometimes that can work very well, and sometimes not so much. It’s all about those interactions, and those alliances that form and how folks work within a group. 

And it’s important to know and understand and, you know, knowing your role in it, as well, and understanding how all that works together. And it gets back to that part of leadership that is understanding the individuals or understanding the small scale, but then also the larger scale and how it all fits in together.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So gosh, listen, everybody, you gotta go over and listen to Jerry Landry’s podcast. You’ve got to definitely do some more of that. But I’ve got one more question for you, which is, you know, we’re talking about these leaders in the past. We’ve talked a little bit about, but as you kind of like flip the script for yourself, like instead of looking into the past, and you look out to the future, what are the big challenges that you see leaders are facing today? And maybe tell us a little bit how you’re handling them?

Jerry: Absolutely. So I think that one of the things that is most difficult for leaders to deal with are the things that we don’t have control over. It’s important to know what those things are, to recognize them, to understand them as best we can. And then once we have those identified, then we can identify the things that we do have control over. And sometimes, in working towards those, we can either mitigate or work away those things that we don’t have control over. 

But it’s important to know that, you know, as a leader, we just we don’t control everything. And knowing that scope, knowing that helps you to avoid being fixated on things that we can’t control. And really focusing in on what needs doing, and helping your team to focus in on what needs doing. That can be challenging, and it’s so easy to go off on those tangents or to have team members go off on those tangents. 

But as a leader, it’s about that inspiration. Making sure that everybody understands what the clear goal or goals are. And working towards those, doing what you can, with what you have an impact on. I think for me, that’s one of the key struggles as a leader. It’s also so important to understand and to make sure that you’re fulfilling as a leader.

Nicole: Yeah, I love what you’re saying, because I think a lot of people are still, you know, a little bit derailed by COVID. I mean, who wouldn’t be? Aren’t we all. But you know, I love what you just said, so please listen to, I’m going to repeat back what he said is, you know, control what you can control, make a list of the things that you can control and the things you can’t control. And knowing that difference is huge. You know, so it actually goes back to I can’t is his name begins with an R. You know, this, this the, it’s a prayer. Is his last name Niebuhr. You know, having the wisdom.

Jerry: Yeah, having the wisdom to know what you can change and what you can’t something along those lines.

Nicole: Yeah, and the wisdom to know the difference or something like that, right? And I think that’s what you’re saying, yeah. And it is so easy to say, we can’t get anything done, because of this big, horrific thing over here. But it’s like, if you do sit down as a leader and do this thing, and I’ve said this many times on the podcast, Jerry, and reflect. You know, like, what needs doing that we can do? And then let’s not worry about the things that we can’t do. My my mentor, Ann Starrette says, do what you can not what you can’t.

Jerry: Absolutely. And it goes back to something I try and remember, it’s my mantra every day. Patience and persistence. We can’t do everything all at once. We just got to keep trying.

Nicole: That’s absolutely right. Okay, awesome. Well, you know, we’re at the top of the hour, we’ve got to bring this session to a close, which is sad. I know that there’s some people out there going wait, wait, I know Jerry Landry has one more nugget for me. I know he will, he would download something. So if we had like a special single listener listening right now and you wanted to give them one more piece of leadership advice. What would you leave that special listener with?

Jerry: I would say be open to learning and be open to people. That’s one of the joys over the years of working and of being a leader in different capacities. I’ve learned as much from other folks as, and probably more than they’ve learned from me. So be open to that experience and share that knowledge, share what you learn and share your skills with others. 

You know, that’s what makes life so beautiful. And so I just, I encourage folks to just keep being open and being a lifelong learner. You know, we all have room to grow. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in a leadership role, or just any role, we’ve still got so much to learn. And that’s, that’s the joy. That’s what keeps us going is that there’s still more that we can do.

Nicole: Yeah. And there’s a lot of things out in this messy world that we live in. And we need people to step up and do it. And I’m so grateful that Jerry Landry is in the world. Everybody, you can find him on LinkedIn and we spell Jerry’s name, J E R R Y. And the last name is Landry L A N D R Y. You can find him on LinkedIn. 

And then of course, will you tell everybody one more time when they can come listen to your research and your insights about our first four presidents? He’s going to do them all. He’ll be doing this until he’s 112. Anyway. Tell them where they can find that because I know they want to get that and get subscribed to that for sure.

Jerry: Absolutely. It is

Nicole: Awesome. Awesome. All right, well, hey, everybody. If you enjoyed this episode, if you would like this episode, and you would subscribe, I would be so grateful. And I am also grateful for Jerry Landry for being on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast.

Voiceover: Ready to build your vibrant culture? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference or organization to help them with her strategies, systems and smarts to increase clarity, accountability, energy and results. Your organization will get lit from within. Email And be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at

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