“Leaders add value by serving others.” John C Maxwell
When was the last time someone did something for you with no expectations of any recognition, no strings attached, no rewards? It’s certainly not a regular occurrence, but it does stand out when it happens, doesn’t it.
Of all the leadership laws taught by John Maxwell, this is probably my most challenging and one that I need to work the hardest on. However much I would love it to be second nature to me in adding value to others, I must admit that I don’t, and must constantly remind myself to do it. My wife Dena, on the other hand, she is absolutely natural at applying this law. She would be constantly thinking many steps in advance as to how to make life easier for me and our two sons. When asked about this, Dena simply responds, “I look at what needs to be done and I just do it”.
I can’t tell you how many times she has saved my butt from embarrassment. I just don’t think about things like what to bring as gifts for the hosts of parties we’re invited to. Leaving it to me would often result in us just bringing yet another bottle of wine from our store room as the simplest option. Not that there is anything wrong with that option. For Dena, if she knows about a party or event we’re both attending, we would rarely go along without something special in hand, be it a gift or a dish we’ve made. Whatever it is, it always took a bit of thought and effort. She does this regardless of any recognition from the recipient. It is a part of her character to be a blessing to others and I can see that it is one of her strengths.
For me, adding value to others does not necessarily come as naturally. Don’t get me wrong. I love adding value to others and always enjoy seeing the faces and expressions of people that I’ve made a difference to. It’s nice when I can do that and expect nothing in return. It just takes more effort and focus for me to do so. This requires me getting over myself and being more mindful of the needs of others.
Some of the greatest leaders in history have been some of the greatest servants of their people. From the likes of Martin Luther King to Nelson Mandela. From Mother Teresa to Jesus Christ. The latter once said, “So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all.” Never has there been truer words spoken that reflect this leadership law.
In the week ahead, choose one person in your personal life and one person in your business. What can you do to show them that you care? Can you do so without expecting anything in return? If you can do it often enough, it will become easier each time. The more you seek to add value to others, the greater a leader you will become. This is perhaps the easiest way to build trust and respect, and we will take a look at how to build trust as a leader next month.