Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t! – Margaret Thatcher
I remember working with a fellow once who would tell anyone that would listen, that he was a leader. In fact he would say that he had been called to be a “leader of leaders.” But anyone who knew him for any amount of time realized that it was all in his head. You see a leader is someone who has followers. And even though he always had an excuse for why he couldn’t get people to follow him, his every attempt at leadership failed. It was because for him leadership was all about him and his position.
He had apparently never heard the saying, ‘If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk.” But you can’t influence people just by telling them that you are their leader. True leaders know that is isn’t about them, it is all about their followers.
The fifth law of John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is the Law of Addition –Leaders Add Value by Serving Others.
Every relationship, and in fact every interaction either adds to, or subtracts from our lives. The question is; Are you adding or subtracting from the lives of your followers? Are you having a positive or a negative impact on them?
How do you know whether you are adding or subtracting from your followers? It’s actually pretty easy. If you can’t give some evidence of making things better for your people, then you are probably subtracting. 90 percent of people who subtract are not doing it on purpose. On the other hand 90 percent of people who add value do so on purpose.
The bottom line in leadership is not how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.
And it is not dependent on position. You can add value at any position. Take my friend Carey Lauder as an example. He has no employees. He is not in a position of power. And yet he has added value to so many people, in so many ways, that he has gained tremendous influence.
He adds value to others intentionally. He doesn’t do it to gain influence. He just loves to add value to others. Most people don’t add value to others because they are naturally selfish. Most of us are. Carey is not selfish. And he adds value to so many people that he not only adds, he multiplies his influence. He is also one of the greatest action photographers in the world. He photographs many sports teams, both professional and amateur. In fact, he is my photographer and his pictures are all over my website.
Telling someone that you are a leader will not make it happen. Adding value to others will.
This leaves us with two critical questions:
Are you making things better for the people who follow you?
Can you show evidence of that?