3 Effortless Ways Leaders Bring Value

I don’t really like boats.  Well, I take that back. Big boats freak me out.  I grew up in Oklahoma and the biggest boat that I was ever on growing up was a 20’ pontoon boat.  Little Big Town’s song “Pontoon” was pretty much my experience growing up on lakes in Oklahoma. I loved going skiing and fishing as a kid. I have great memories of getting pulled around the lake on an innertube.  

Moving out to California was a different story though.

I don’t know why, but the big boats scared me and in San Diego, you get to see some really big ones.  My friend and I were having lunch in San Diego, and in the distance we could see the Disney Cruise ship in the harbor.  It was huge, like a building on the water, which freaked me out a little. I could probably get on one and walk around on it if it were just sitting in the water, but out in the ocean on a cruise ship, or deep sea fishing?  No way dude. I’m out.

One cool thing about big boats though, is the effect they have on all the other boats.  When a big boat pulls into the harbor, it affects all the others. It raises them up, makes them sit a little higher on the dock.  

That’s a lot like what good leaders do.  They raise everyone else around them up a little bit.

Of course, I’m not just writing about boats, but as leaders, we can learn a thing or two from them.  Have you ever thought about the effect you have on those around you, even when you aren’t looking or intending to?  That’s a mark of a true leader. Leaders raise the level of everyone around them.

I woke up this morning with the word “value” on my mind.  What’s my value? What’s your value? Not in the “worth” sense of the definition, but in the “extra” sense of the word.  Like a good infomercial, you can watch the whole infomercial, but it doesn’t matter what that guy is pitching, he’s eventually going to get to the “but wait!” portion of the commercial.  That’s what I’m talking about; what’s your “but wait”? What’s your “there’s more”? What’s the extra that you are giving for the price people pay for your services? What makes you a “deal” to have around?

I think there are three things we can do to increase our value to those around us as leaders.

  1. Be an expert.  There is no reason you can’t be an expert at what you do.  The thing that makes an expert different from you is 100% controllable.  It’s not talent. It’s everything else beyond talent. All talent does is give you a head start.  If I were given a choice between talent and effort, I’ll always choose effort. Talent and persistence?  Persistence. Talent and discipline? Discipline. All of those things are controllable and available to everyone.  If you want to become an expert, just increase your effort, persistence and discipline. You’ll become one soon enough.
  2. Leave it better than you left it.  Your mom probably taught you this one, but I’m not just talking about something that you borrow from a friend.  I’m talking about everything. Everything from the break room to the relationship you have with the people around you.  Always leave things and people better than you left them.  Always try to leave a conversation with someone having given more than they gave.  Have a generous mindset. Be intentional about the words you say and leave behind words that make people better.  Any good leader can do that, and your people are looking for that from you as well. This should be a slam dunk. One of my partners and I were with a dealer just the other day and we were sharing what we do as a company, and how we could help this dealership become more intentional about their culture in their store.  As we were finishing, Chris, my partner, said, “we always like to leave something of value with people, something free that can help you right now,” and he proceeded to give a great practice that this store could immediately do that would make a huge difference in their employee engagement.  Free of charge. We definitely left the room better than we found it.
  3. Act like you own the place.  I had a joke that I would always share with the guys closest to me at North County Kia.  At times, certain employees would come into my office who would want to tell me how loyal they were to me and to my store.  My joke was, “start counting the days.”  It was uncanny.  Any time someone would come in and tell me how loyal they were to me and how much they loved me or loved the company, they were on their way out.  I would tell my guys, “don’t tell me you’re loyal, just show me.” In other words, “act like you own the place.” People who own the place never have to tell you that they are loyal to it.  You never wonder if they are “all in.” You never have to worry if they are going to arrive on time or if they will stay late if needed. They are all-in. And I can’t tell you how valuable that makes you.  When you show up because you have an equal stake in what’s going on as I do, that makes you one of the most valuable people in the building, and a heck of a leader.

There’s really only one way to know for sure if you are a leader, and that’s to simply look behind you and see if anyone’s following.  If you look back and see a line forming behind you, then be intentional about being a value to your followers. These three things will make you incredibly valuable as a leader, and by putting these things in practice today, everyone around you will feel a little taller.

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