By Mark Cole
My dad was the first influence in my life to teach me the importance of relationships.
In his words, “The only thing that will last is what you invest in people.”
Acquisitions and possessions will all fade away, but what you place inside of the people around you will remain long after you are gone.
Our team hosts an annual personal growth event in Atlanta called Live2Lead. During one of the sessions last year, John Maxwell and I were on stage together for an interview about the importance of mentoring and leaving a legacy of lasting impact.
This is an exciting topic for me because I get energized by the potential of building something greater than anything I can accomplish in one lifetime.
That’s what legacy is all about. Living a life of significance—adding value to people that multiply value to others.
In the interview, John and I talked about the most memorable question that John has ever asked me.
I’ll never forget this. I remember exactly where we were. I remember the hotel. I remember the color of the chair I was sitting in.
John asked, “Mark, do you want to be loved or do you want to lead?”
I have to admit, this was very difficult for me to wrestle with. I have always been a people pleaser to my core; always driven to make people happy and keep the camaraderie alive. And John asked me this question at a time in my leadership when I needed it the most.
Every leader has to face this crossroads at some point in his or her journey:
Do you want to be loved or do you want to lead?
The truth is, we want both! But it’s rarely possible, and certainly not possible over an extended period of time to have both.
After John asked me this question, we spent the next 18 months working it out and wrestling it to the ground before I was really able to truly learn this lesson. Everything changed after he helped me realize this:
The purpose of relationships is not to sing “kumbaya” around the campfire while we get to know each other better. The best relationships are the ones where both parties are intentional about what they are bringing to the table. These are the relationships that lead to lasting impact.
So how do you build intentionality into your relationships?
Here are three of my favorite questions to ask that have proven to build relationships that produce lasting impact.
- What do you think?
This question will do more for the person you are leading than anything you can imagine. Here’s why: when you ask for their skills, you get their strengths. When you ask for their passions, you get their heart. When you ask for their ideas, you get their mind. But when you ask for their answers, you get their strengths, heart and mind!
- How can I serve you?
I remember being at dinner with our team several years ago and Linda Eggers, John’s assistant for over 30 years, shared something so inspiring to me. She said, “I can’t remember a day that John didn’t ask me if there was anything I needed to help me move forward.” If you are a leader, it is your responsibility to make sure that your people have what they need to succeed.
- What did you learn?
When you ask someone this question it prompts critical thinking about the experience, which leads to the best opportunity for growth. As John says, “Experience isn’t the best teacher—evaluated experience is.” Your sharpest people will always shine with this question, and they will teach you something as well!
We all want to be loved, but the purpose of leadership is not popularity. The best leaders have a greater purpose in mind: lasting impact.
You can get there too! John and I will be having more authentic conversations like the one I mentioned above at Live2Lead LIVE in Atlanta, GA on October 11, 2019.
I don’t want you to miss out on this growth opportunity! I guarantee you will walk away with a new action plan to build a legacy of lasting impact.