“Everything rises and falls on leadership.”John C. Maxwell
Over the past 5 years, I have had the privilege of being poured into by great leaders around me. The growth I have experienced in the arena of leadership has been profound. I am always learning and trying to do better. Here are three vital principles I have learned and have greatly contributed to my development as a leader.
1. Leaders Give Back
“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.”Bill Bradley
I love to mentor people. Some part of me always wanted to be a teacher. There is something about watching someone’s face light up when it finally “clicks”. The ‘Ah-ha!’ moment is an amazing reaction to witness. We all know what it feels like. You might be focusing on an ‘ah-ha’ moment you or someone you know has had. I thrive on that when I’m mentoring someone. I feel as though we entered a grand battlefield and after much turmoil the outcome is victorious. It’s not a sense of pride, it’s something deeper. Accomplishment.
Another way I try to give back is by writing blog posts (like this). I was once told (or heard somewhere, I can’t remember), take everything you learn and give it away. I enjoy sharing my thoughts and stories with everyone. I hope that my successes and failures can help someone on their own journey.
2. Leaders Lead by Example
“You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow, too.”Sam Rayburn
I am fortunate to be the team lead for one of the volunteer groups at my church. The purpose of our team is to identify and engage with first-time guests and provide them with a comfortable, personalized experience. We spend anywhere from 5-15 minutes showing our new guests around and answering any questions they may have. This requires my team to be attentive to who is entering and be willing to put themselves out there (even if it is uncomfortable) to connect with first-time guests.
I have a stellar team, but we can all fall victim to not paying attention. I am no exception to this. To combat this and train my team, I will purposely engage in conversation with them – especially when I know that a new guest is coming. I will stop mid-sentence, walk over, and help the new guest. This tactic can be a bit off-putting and down-right rude if you are new to the team. For those who have served for a while, leaving the conversation abruptly is the correct response. When I started serving, this was difficult and uncomfortable to do. Over time, it has become second nature and everyone around me knows when I’m serving, first-time guests are my number one priority and I mean no disrespect when I bolt from a chat. My team does the same thing. They have watched my example long enough to know what it means to serve our guests.
Side note: If I or anyone on my team is engaged in a serious conversation with someone we will do our best to communicate to the rest of the team we need to step away for a bit. People matter to us.
3. Leaders Love People
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.”Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Plain and simple, leaders love people. That might not sound simple or appealing. As a leader, you must learn to love people as best as you can. Leaders care about the people around them.
Because leaders love people, they put people first. They invest time and energy in the people around them. They learn the strengths and weaknesses of the people they lead. Leaders build relationships with those around them and learn how to serve them better. I try to engage with everyone I meet daily. I greet them by name. I do my best to ask them specific questions about their day, week, life, hobby, job, spouse, kids and more. It takes time to learn people and engage with them on a deeper level. As John Maxwell says, “everything worthwhile is uphill.” Meaning as a leader, I MUST put in the effort to love those around me if I want to have any influence in their life.
One thing I do not do is straight up ask anyone what they do – as a job / for work. This question typically is one of the first two or three asked of someone. For me, I let that come up naturally in conversation. I do not want to give the impression that the only reason I’m engaging in the conversation is that I want to know if that person can benefit me or not. Leaders do not desire to use those around them for personal gain. This is my own personal conviction and it helps keep me in check when I’m talking to someone.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”Jack Welch
People matter to leaders. Take a moment and think about those who you consider a leader in your life – either by title or influence. How would you define them (good or bad leaders)? Why? I would not be surprised if the good leaders exhibit all three of the principles I’ve expressed plus many more. Leaders walk the talk and love those who are around them. I hope you can use these ideas to better yourself as a leader.
Below is a small part of leadership reading material that I have used over the past 5 years.