It’s ironic I’m writing about relationships and it was Valentines’ Day week. But honestly, when I first started writing, I really wasn’t thinking about it. Anyway, I hope you had a day full of love and were able to invest in those relationships that have meaning to you. So Happy Valentines’ Day.
Valentine’s Day kind of relates to my topic this week. Last week I had the chance to travel down to the Caribbean and visit the Bahamas with two of my sisters. It’s not often I get to travel with my family, so I took the opportunity to invest in my relationships with them and I’m glad I did. If you should know anything about me, I value family and I’m extremely thankful for them, especially mine and how connected we are and have been. So many people we met complimented us and mentioned how nice it was we were traveling as a family. It made me wonder, do people still take family vacations?
These kinds of experiences certainly require effort and being intentional about investing in them. Other than my relationship with Jesus Christ, the relationship with my family are some the most meaningful relationships in my life.
Being intentional about investing not only in family relationships, but in others is something I believe makes a significant difference in a leader. Servant leadership, particularly is something I’m especially passionate about because I believe it’s most effective. People want to be valued and by knowing how to best serve your followers allows that value to be felt. In a world that’s filled in chaos and people searching for authentic and genuine relationships, serving others and investing in them is something people value and are looking for. However, when it’s seen, it’s can very unfamiliar and even foreign to some people.
So let me ask you, how important is it for you to invest in those around you? What does serving others even look like to you? How can you begin to serve and invest in those you are leading?
As a leader, how you invest in others is dependent upon how you’re willing to serve them. I’m intentional about adding value and investing in the relationships I’ve formed and continue to form because I’ve experienced the results of maintaining them. As a man of faith, I know it’s my example that others notice. I once heard, the people you are called to lead either need to be watered or need a seed to be planted inside of them to bring about their highest potential. And its your job to do that. If we are called to be salt and light on Earth, then it’s a leader’s job to determine what their example tastes like or how brightly it’s shining for others to see.
This philosophy isn’t something I’ve seen much of in the military, their are a few and when you seen it, it’s an awesome sight and even better when you get to follow in their footsteps. I’ve served in the U.S. Coast Guard for nearly 18 years and it seems this style of leadership is something that is becoming less and less seen despite how much it’s talked about or written in our core values. I don’t mean this as a jab to the military or Coast Guard leaders because it’s something our culture has created and continues to support. People don’t know how to get out of their own way and truly serve others, but the ones who do are making a significant difference in the lives of those they lead.
For those of you who are leaders or who wants to learn how to best serve those around you – first, learn to be intentional about showing up – it’s the one thing people notice first. Don’t have an agenda. Make them look and feel good and they’ll reciprocate it. Leadership is not managing. It’s not about rank or title or how successful you are or what kind of car or home you own. My friend and mentor, John C. Maxwell once told me, if you have to tell people you’re a leader, you’re not and if think you’re a leader but no one is following you, you’re really just taking a walk.
I say all of this to encourage you as a leader. If you’re unsure where to start. Take an assessment of your leadership style and don’t be afraid to answer some tough questions. Even better, ask those around you for some feedback or take a 360 personal assessment. Gaining awareness as a leader can be incredibly valuable for your growth and effectiveness as a leader.