What does it mean to add value to others?
A servant leader is compelled by an unshakable desire to enrich the lives of others. This is a state of “being” for a leader (“they are compelled by an unshakable desire”), as well as a state of “doing” (“to enrich the lives of others”). This compelling desire is manifested by a mindset that “Thinks Others First.” In every situation, a servant leader actively seeks the win for family, friends, team, organization—all whom their lives touch.
In order to act upon this mindset, servant leaders seek to ”Add Value” to those they influence. Think for a moment of a leader who added value to you. What did they do? A thousand examples of various forms could make the list; a few of them are listed below.
- Are great listeners
- Encourage and draw out the best in others
- Offer perspectives that help others grow
- Take time to mentor
- Affirm the gifting and talents of others
- Freely express gratitude to others
- Smile often
Ultimately, adding value to others occurs at the intersection of someone’s need and our ability to meet the need. Even seemingly insignificant moments of encouragement or affirmation can have a drastic effect on others. As S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, said, “You know the best way to tell if someone needs encouragement? If they are breathing!”
How can you add value to others?
When a co-worker is under a tight deadline and does not have the needed resources, a servant leader can add great value. Come alongside, provide additional resources, or coach and mentor from personal experience whenever a team member experiences a pressing need.
Adding value also occurs when leaders maximize their talents for the purpose of enriching others. Consider this: what if Gandhi had remained a lawyer in South Africa, rather than use his talents to address the needs of his people in India?
These four questions will help you focus on adding value to others:
- Who should I be serving, really? (What are the needs I see around me?)
- What are we (or they) trying to accomplish?
- What talent, skill, or knowledge do I hold that can add value, as we try to reach that objective?
- What steps can I take to help add that value?
Ask yourself these questions each morning and allow them to shape your work throughout the day. As you practice identifying the greatest needs and applying your effort to meeting those needs (of co-workers, clients, family and friends), you will find that, as they are enriched, you are as well.
Take action! Here is a chance to practice adding value to someone else right now:
- Think of a person in your office who would benefit from some encouragement (this can be anyone).
- Identify three ways this person adds value to you or the community. Focus on who they are as a person—their character traits, talents, and personality—not on what they do
- Write a brief note that expresses your appreciation for him/her, stressing the value they add through the three traits you identified. Drop the note on his/her desk or office mailbox. Feel free to sign the note; you may decide to remain anonymous. Either way, remember the ultimate purpose is to add value and affirm the person, not to receive personal credit.
Try this once a day for the next week and see what happens!