1859 – Embracing Creative Conflict and Leadership with HR Huntsman

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the Founder & President of Leader's Edge, HR Huntsman

HR Huntsman's approach to business growth is both strategic and holistic. He understands that for businesses to scale, they need to develop strong leadership and cohesive teams. One of the key insights HR shared was the critical transition leaders must make from being “time tellers” to “clock builders.” This metaphor encapsulates the idea that leaders should concentrate on creating systems and infrastructures that function independently of their constant oversight. It's about empowering your team and setting up processes that ensure the business can thrive, even when the leader isn't present.

Another fascinating topic we delved into was the concept of creative conflict. HR believes that for a company to grow, it must cultivate an environment where different viewpoints are tolerated and actively encouraged. This culture allows for innovation and problem-solving from various perspectives, leading to more robust and creative solutions.

Leadership development and team building are also at the heart of achieving sustainable growth. HR emphasized the importance of nurturing leaders who can carry the vision and drive the company's growth. The current labor market presents unique challenges, and HR did not shy away from addressing these. He stressed the importance of adapting to employee engagement and retention dynamics. 

In his view, companies should see themselves as training organizations that excel in their fields. This perspective necessitates robust onboarding and training programs that bring employees up to speed, foster their development, and encourage them to stay with the company.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Business growth strategies for small and medium-sized businesses
  • Leadership development and team building
  • Transitioning from “time tellers” to “clock builders”
  • Fostering a culture of creative conflict and diverse perspectives
  • Challenges in the labor market and adapting to changing dynamics
  • Employee engagement and retention
  • Viewing organizations as training companies
  • Effective onboarding and training programs
  • Importance of personal connection and collaboration opportunities

About HR Huntsman:

HR Huntsman, the founder of Leader's Edge, is a seasoned leader with over 30 years of experience. Driven by his journey of overcoming childhood challenges, he has dedicated himself to investing in and empowering young leaders. 

Through Leader's Edge, HR imparts valuable life and leadership principles from his successful endeavors, emphasizing the importance of mindset, principles, and disciplines for sustained success. As a prolific speaker, HR has shared his insights in approximately 4000 talks to a diverse audience of around 400,000 people worldwide. 

His passion for enhancing others' lives remains unwavering, reflecting his commitment to helping individuals and companies thrive. HR's enduring marriage of over thirty years to Gwen and their shared journey of raising two grown children further exemplify his dedication to building lasting connections and making a positive impact.

About Leader's Edge:

Leader's Edge specializes in unleashing potential and propelling organizations beyond operational challenges. With a team of seasoned organizational strategists and business coaches, Leader's Edge employs its patented Leader's Edge Performance Engine to translate visions into tangible success. This proven process is designed to catapult businesses past stagnation, facilitate scalable growth, and instill the desired time and financial freedom. By attentively listening to each client's story and aspirations, Leader's Edge ensures a personalized approach for a diverse clientele, ranging from CEOs of large corporations to entrepreneurial startups. 

The firm is dedicated to creating a better future for clients by assisting them in defining their goals and achieving them. Whether navigating the complexities of established enterprises or guiding emerging careers, Leader's Edge is committed to helping clients chart a course toward their aspirations.

Tweetable Moments:

13:10 – “At the core of most of this is the ability to have good conversations where people are free to disagree, engage, feel heard, and valued.”

Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Leader's Edge website at

Check out Leader's Edge on LinkedIn at

Check out Leader's Edge on Twitter at

Check out Leader's Edge on Facebook at

Check out HR Huntsman on LinkedIn at

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HJosh (00:00:05) - Hey, thoughtful listener, before we get going. Did you know that my company up my influence? Com has launched more than 200 business podcasts. The host of our shows are amazing leaders and collaborators. Folks, I want to connect you with. Maybe you deserve your moment in the spotlight as a guest of one of these amazing shows. Just go to up my influence. Com where you can see more than 50 shows that are actively seeking business leader guests like you to celebrate right now in front of their high caliber audiences. Just click on the podcast tab and up my influence. Com where you'll see shows like the Optics in Action podcast hosted by the visionary Ryan Weiss, president of EPS. This daily podcast is a treasure trove of insights for anyone in the manufacturing and construction world. Are you a business leader or innovator in these industries? Then Optics in Action is your go to source for stories that inspire and strategies that really work. Ryan and his guests dive deep into the journeys of successful founders, uncovering the secrets to scaling up in today's fast paced business environment.

Josh (00:01:23) - But that's not all if you are at the helm of a thriving company. Optics in Action is actively seeking guests like you in those industries, leaders who are shaping the future of manufacturing and construction. Share your story, your challenges, and your triumphs with a senior leadership level audience who are eager to learn from your experience. Don't miss this chance to be a part of a community of visionaries. Visit up my influence. Com click on the podcast tab and look for optics in action. Whether you're tuning in as a listener or stepping up as a guest. Join us in driving the conversation forward. In the world of manufacturing and construction. Your voice matters and we can't wait to amplify it. With us. Right now it's H.R. Huntsman hr. You are a business growth strategist and you are the founder and president of Leaders Edge. You're found on the web at your leaders Edgecomb HR. Thank you so much for joining us.

HR Huntsman (00:02:31) - Josh, it's a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me, my friend.

Josh (00:02:34) - Absolutely. And, you know, I just share the lame joke one more time here because I'm sure you hear it all the time. I'm so delighted I get to chat with HR today. Yeah.

HR Huntsman (00:02:44) - I never hear that about once a day.

Josh (00:02:47) - , I'm sorry about that. All right, well, HR, let's kind of focus on the good. You know, what you do in the world. You're impacting who you serve. And then kind of the, you know, the outcomes you helped create for your clients and audiences sounds great.

HR Huntsman (00:02:59) - Josh, I'm privileged to work with small, medium sized business owners, business leaders. They normally come to us when they're two different kinds of companies. Come to us. They're they've hit a ceiling a little bit, and they're wanting to break through and scale, or they're growing rapidly and they're outgrowing their systems and processes and leadership infrastructure. And so we get to go in and help them fix all those things, document all that, and help them scale and grow.

Josh (00:03:25) - Yeah. So what's your background? How did you get into this?

Speaker 3 (00:03:29) - Well.

HR Huntsman (00:03:30) - The longer I'll make short is a group in a really broken, dysfunctional home. And all this pain and death and alcoholism and abuse and what I wanted to do, I had really good influences in my life, in the, in the military. And they challenged me to make good use of all that. So I started my first company at 28. Back when I knew everything, and I launched this nonprofit humanitarian organization. And my goal, it sounds sappy, was just to change the world. And we ended up working in five countries around the world. I had 200 staff and I retired a few years ago. And the key to this story is, as much as I love the projects we did, orphanages and water projects and all kinds of stuff around the world is Josh. I fell in love with leadership and team development, and as we scaled and grew from scratch to very large, I learned that that's the key to growth is building great leaders and building great teams and great systems.

HR Huntsman (00:04:26) - Otherwise you can't grow and you're stuck. What Maxwell calls the law of the lid. When I retired from that a few years ago, I knew I wanted to invest in young leaders and pass on that same knowledge and experience. And so now I get to do just that.

Josh (00:04:41) - Yeah., you know, you bring up some really just looking at your LinkedIn profile, you kind of talk about some really key things. I listen, I think you've kind of laid out my interview right here because there's a lot of things I'd love to kind of pick your brain on. Sure., let's illustrate some very common problems that leaders may be facing within their organizations., and one of those might be kind of just exhaustion or tiredness from maybe having to be a little bit too engaged. You know, you call it a, you know, a hand-holding or whatever., if there's underperforming team leaders or just feeling like, oh, man, I just, I feel like we've covered this and it just it seems like, you know, this department or this, you know, manager or director that, you know, is reporting to me.

Josh (00:05:30) - I just I'm really struggling to pass the baton here., is that something that you see and if so, like, how do you kind of create a maybe a structure to evaluate and improve that system? Yeah.

HR Huntsman (00:05:42) - It is the most felt need that we hear all the time. Now. There are underlying factors that we always get at eventually. But the strongest felt need when people come to us is this right here accountability. Burnout. Overwhelmed. Putting out fires every day, hand holding. That's the felt need. And there's two sides to it. Josh. And you know this very well. Side number one is getting those leaders to actually release and empower. So release delegate empower other people to carry those things. And the other side of course, is developing that leadership infrastructure that can pick up the baton that is being handed off, building that trust, those trust levels, the good communication. It may be skill development. So there's the two sides that we face. So pulling the white knuckle grip of the leaders off of those things, teaching them how to empower.

HR Huntsman (00:06:38) - And then of course working with their leadership team on and growing their skills as well.

Josh (00:06:44) - Yeah. And so, you know, I would imagine again, that's a thing that probably, you know, encounter a lot also too,, you know, in working with leaders, how often when you start engaging with someone, do you come or help them come to a conclusion they're doing way too much, or they are doing stuff that they really shouldn't be doing, right? It's it's like, I think this is a topic we we as in leadership development, like we talk about this so frequently and I think so many of us are aware that that is a known problem, a very, very common problem. But yet it's still happens. Yeah.

HR Huntsman (00:07:24) - This is so great. So what? Here's the normal pattern H can you come help us? We need higher accountability and engagement with our team. It's always about the team. The team's not stepping up. Can you help me step up the team. And eventually I put the mirror up to them and I say, ma'am, sir, you have to look in the mirror because a big part of the root is you right here, not having developed this culture, not having trained well.

HR Huntsman (00:07:51) - So we do have to have the eye opening, sometimes stinging conversation that the root of this, my friend, my leader, friend, it comes back to you and teaching you how to delegate, teaching you how to empower, teaching you how to have these conversations. It's not your team, my friend. I'm afraid it starts with you. And those can be challenging conversations.

Josh (00:08:15) - Yeah. The decision making process to engage you or kind of, you know, your sales process that were, you know, just kind of discovery, that sort of thing. Yeah., that's got to be interesting because, you know, there's there's kind of this and I'm just curious about this, you know, your observations of you sell them what they want, you give them what they need. Right? There's some aspect of that. But I'm just curious about your own personal user journey. You know, how quick are you to get blunt about. Yeah. Okay. You can hire me and we're going to work on you.

Josh (00:08:47) - Yeah. Whereas what they say is, like, they might be complaining about lack of engagement., you know, maybe there's personality things that are going on, and it could be really easy to say, great, bring me in. We're going to we're going to fix those things. Yeah. How are we going to fix them? I don't worry about it.

HR Huntsman (00:09:03) - No I won't I won't begin a project with the person without having this upfront conversation. That great authenticity, the humility to look at oneself, the vulnerability to say I may not be where I need to be. I wouldn't even begin a project without having that upfront conversation that you realize you own a lot of this. We have to have that conversation. I mean, if you're the leader, whatever culture you have has begun with you. So we have that up front.

Josh (00:09:36) - That's great. Yeah. H.R., how do you work with your clients? Like what does that look like? Like, it's very specifically like how does engagement, how long do you work? How do you structure that that work together? Yeah.

HR Huntsman (00:09:49) - Yeah. We have different levels of programs for wherever the company is. And it could start with just your basic executive level coaching, which is monthly executive coaching, a lot of interrogation dreams, hopes. How do you get in your own way? Pain points, imposter syndrome all the way up to our big six figure. Full deep dive. What we call performance engine. It's our own developed system to look at the six systems of any business, and we go in and work with the executive team, the leadership team, sometimes the whole staff. And we do deep dives, very, very deep level looks at their foundation system, all their accountability systems, all their processes, organizations, how they run team meetings, KPIs, marketing strategy, value proposition, the whole value chain from start to finish, everything. We look at everything and really help them scale. We document the whole deal, train their team on how to do it. You know, that's a that's a monthly half day session with the team and then it follow coaching with their executive team or executive group.

Josh (00:10:56) - Sure., and do you work with any particular industries or like are there some industries. You just have a oh, you're kind of dominating right now or, you know, industries that you have a lot of experience with in particular?

HR Huntsman (00:11:09) - Yeah, we're certainly not industry specific. Our belief is that if you work with people, we can help you. It doesn't matter if we know how to make your kind of widgets. The principles of making widgets are the same. But we are very strong in construction, all kind of flavors of construction and law and and medical groups. We have, for whatever reason, we've been very attracted to those groups and we do very well with those. But we have all kinds of industries across the board.

Speaker 4 (00:11:38) - .

Josh (00:11:39) - So HR I'm curious, you know, just because this is what you've been doing for quite some time. Obviously you see trends right in, in your world and you see things maybe coming up a lot more than maybe they didn't before. What are some of the biggest challenges that you're hearing, let's say over the past year that that seemed to be a more common refrain.

HR Huntsman (00:12:00) - Yeah, this will be shocking to you and all of your leaders. The number one challenge today is the labor market by far, far and away. It used to be back in the day accountability. And and now it's h. Can you help us engage better learn how to lead the new labor culture better. So, you know, the labor market has more power than it's ever had before. Wanting flexibility, hybrid work schedules, all these things, and teaching leaders and teams how to adjust and pivot with each other with these new supply and demand with the labor market is by far the biggest challenge that we are asked about on a almost daily basis.

Josh (00:12:42) - Yeah. So if you were to kind of look in your crystal ball and you were to kind of give an urgent message to business leaders everywhere rather on that topic, which again, very, very common or others, what would you say? You know, you probably need to be working on this a lot more. What would that prescription be?

HR Huntsman (00:13:02) - Absolutely, 100%.

HR Huntsman (00:13:04) - Today's leaders need to be working on creative conflict.

Speaker 3 (00:13:10) - .

HR Huntsman (00:13:10) - At the core of most of this, Josh, is the ability to have good conversations where people are free to disagree, engage, feel heard and valued. I don't care if we're talking about rolling out the next widget our employee retention program, onboarding hybrid work schedules. The leader that's going to succeed in the next decade is the leader that has built into his or her culture this culture of creative conflict, being able to have good, hard conversations where people can respectfully disagree. The leader that can do that is going to win.

Josh (00:13:47) - Yeah. Let's see, someone's listening to us right now. Their leadership at their organization or the founder of a company. And like if we were to give them a to do, like, here's a couple things. I want you to take this back in your organization. Or maybe this is something that they need to kind of work on themselves first and kind of do some planning around here. But what's something that someone could do today that might be a very helpful exercise to improve some aspect of their culture or organization, or maybe challenges that may or may not be incredibly well known.

Speaker 3 (00:14:18) - Yeah.

HR Huntsman (00:14:20) - I guess the first thing I'd ask him to do is interrogate your schedule and see how much time you're doing, time tilling, and how much time you're doing clock building. And my guess. Most certainly, small and mid-sized business leaders spend most of their day time telling and not clock building. So take a take a look at how you use your energy. And I bet 95% of their time is going to be in telling the time, answering the questions, solving the problems, putting out the fires, holding the hands, setting themselves up as the genius in the room. And I'm going to challenge, if you're listening, to begin to transition and navigate toward being the clock builder who designs and orchestrates this infrastructure that can carry on without your daily presence, you're building the leadership infrastructure. You're building the systems, the communication protocols, all the accountability feedback loops, all those things are part of clock building. So there's my challenge. Less time telling, more clock building.

Speaker 4 (00:15:22) - .

Josh (00:15:22) - I love it I love it.

Josh (00:15:23) - are you. I just like curiosity., have you seen any kind of AI enabled technology being used by leaders maybe to solve problems or, you know, enhance things? You know, just I'm just curious what you've been seeing or maybe what you've been advising on.

HR Huntsman (00:15:42) - Yeah. So we are big on training. One of our, one of our hot button topic is onboarding and training. Because 80% of retention is linked back to onboarding and training. So turnover is incredibly expensive. Anywhere from 50 to 200% of a person's salary is going to. That's what it's going to cost you to turn over a position. So retention is critical to your bottom line as well as, you know, your your IP. So the way we see it working and the way we've been encouraging people to use AI to help develop your onboarding and training systems, all those programs and a lot of the companies that we're working with, they're using it well, and there's some brand names for AI doesn't really matter, I guess, but that's where we're seeing it.

HR Huntsman (00:16:31) - Use really effectively is in the onboarding and training. programs.

Speaker 4 (00:16:37) - .

Josh (00:16:37) - Yeah yeah I agree. And just maybe setting structure SOPs you know things like that to really kind of documenting processes. I mean that is something that we've been working on just kind of formalizing a lot of these things that, you know, which I've got a pretty strong opinions on this. Right? It's like if something is being done within the organization, it needs to be documented,, because, well, I'll let you explain. Yeah. Tell me more about that.

HR Huntsman (00:17:03) - Yes, yes. Amen, brother. Absolutely. Because that's part of scalability. Right. So the average turnover in America right now in every company is about 47% annually. So if we're going to maintain momentum and traction keeping those things documented. So we have just a much easier system to onboard train and get people up and running quickly. And I mean the phrase I use now with most of my companies is you're not a let's make up something, you're not a construction company, you're a training company that does construction very well.

HR Huntsman (00:17:39) - And so if I can get people to think of themselves as a training organization that does, you know, whatever their thing is, the companies that buy into that have a much they have a huge advantage over the companies that don't train well at all. So, yes, document everything. Document, document, document because it it helps that training and onboarding process so well. And it maintains a high standard of performance across the board all those things. So Josh I applaud you for sure.

Josh (00:18:10) - Oh well you know and you're just like that's a huge paradigm shift. What you just said right there. Like about the example with the construction company, you're a training company. We think about like what that means, right? It's like, listen, we we're a training company that also does this, but we make the best, you know, in our case, you know, the best consultants in the world internally or coaches in the world, you know, so that we can make a bigger impact in the world.

Josh (00:18:35) - But it's like shifting that focus to being the best of the world because of our people, like who we are and the systems and processes that we create. That's really cool.

HR Huntsman (00:18:45) - Well, I stole the idea from college sports. I look at these high level programs, they turn over their staff every 2 or 3 years, if you can think about it that way. They turn over their their labor every 2 or 3 years, and yet they're still competing for national championships all the time. So if they're turning over their staff every three years, it's because their system and their program is so well crafted. So if they can compete for national championships on a regular basis while they're getting new staff all the time, so can we. So I just and again, the labor market is what's radically changed since Covid. So if we're having higher turnover than. Over. All these leaders had come to me and said, H, nobody wants to work anymore and turn over all the time. And people are coming in and out and they're shopping for jobs like we used to shop for restaurants.

HR Huntsman (00:19:38) - And I said, okay, stop. Stop complaining about it and address how we need to pivot and change. And that's when I begin using this. We're no longer a widget company. We're training company that makes the best widgets in our area. And I love it.

Josh (00:19:53) - I love it.

HR Huntsman (00:19:54) - The leaders that I can get to buy into that they just have a leg up on their competitors. They're going to they're going to win. And I tell them, you're not trying to win the widget market. You got to win the labor market. You win the labor market, you'll win the widget market.

Josh (00:20:07) - Yeah. Well HR I'm bought in.

Speaker 4 (00:20:11) - Nice.

Josh (00:20:12) - I love it I love it okay. So getting back to like how you work with your clients, your website is your leaders Edgecomb, who should be reaching out. And you know, how might they know they should have a conversation with you or kind of what what's that process for kind of figuring out if it makes sense to work together in some way? Sure.

HR Huntsman (00:20:37) - Yeah. I mean, if you have pain points around growth in any way, either stagnate, you feel like there's more there. You're leaving the potential on the table. Reach out if you're growing rapidly, and you need a really good infrastructure and architecture to scale that growth, reach out. I mean, these are the companies we want to work with. They have the humility to say, I want to gather a great rope team around me, or a great team around me have that kind of authenticity and humility. You want to grow, you want to treat people well. You want to build something for the future that's a great fit for us.

Josh (00:21:10) - Excellent. And so when they go to your website, what do they do?

HR Huntsman (00:21:14) - , the best thing to do is actually reach out to me on my email., you can go to the website. I love personal connection, so don't hesitate to email me. HR at Your Leaders Edgecomb on the website. There's buttons there getting started and I'll just link to my calendar.

HR Huntsman (00:21:28) - Connect with me personally and we'll have a chat. I'm a pretty informal guy. I'm old school. I love personal connection. So reach out to me in that way and we'll get started.

Josh (00:21:38) - Well, you and me both. HR Huntsman again., your website is your leaders, Edgecomb HR, your business growth strategist, and of course, the,, the founder president of Leaders Edge. So again, thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 3 (00:21:54) - Josh.

HR Huntsman (00:21:54) - Thanks for having me. Keep doing the fantastic work you're doing, my friend.

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