Leadership is all about people; always has been, always will be.
If you’re like me, you love to get things done. Maybe you tend to be task driven and action oriented. As I’ve traveled around the world with John Maxwell I’ve observed many leaders who share these characteristics. Which makes the most difficult thing about leadership the one thing we can’t remove from leadership:
Here’s the truth: You can’t lead if you can’t deal with people. Building relationships will always be the foundation of effective leadership.
Earlier this month on the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast, John taught a lesson on Why The Best Are The Best. I encourage you to go back and listen to this episode if you haven’t already. John shared two prevailing thoughts about why the best are the best: 1) Leaders give their best to their people, and 2) Leaders get the best from their people.
I have been thinking about this lesson ever since we recorded it, especially the second thought that John shared. It’s such an important question to be asking as a leader of anything: How do I get the best from my people?
I want to share a few things I’m learning that I think will really help you get the best from your people.
1. Slow down to connect.
If you don’t slow down long enough to connect with your people, you’ll eventually find yourself alone. And if you’re alone, you’re not leading. Leaders understand that you might be able to go faster alone, but you can go further with others.
Howard Schultz said, “Victory is much more meaningful when it comes not just from one person, but from the joint achievements of many. The euphoria is lasting when all participants lead with their hearts, winning not just for themselves but for one another.”
2. Prove that you care.
Just as John teaches, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. But this doesn’t happen overnight. As a leader, you have to take interest in your people, both professionally and personally. Professional interest shows that you want to help them; personal interest takes it a step deeper and shows your heart.
Remember, the people that follow you desire a personal touch. Try sending a handwritten note to their home address. This is a great way to show that you value them as a human being and not just as a worker to get things done for you. It will take a little extra time, but it will be worth it in the end.
3. Model what you want to see.
Show me a disconnected leader that stands at a distance and gives orders, and I will show you a tyrant who will never get the best from his or her people. It is not enough to tell your people what to do; you must also show them. Because people do what people see. Are you willing to do what you’re asking your people to do?
There is an old story about Mahatma Gandhi being approached by a woman and her son. The woman asked, “Please tell my little boy to stop eating sugar.”
Gandhi replied, “Come back in three days.”
So, the woman did as he said and returned three days later with her son. When they arrived, Gandhi said to the boy, “Young boy, stop eating sugar. It’s not good for you.”
The woman was confused and asked, “Why did you ask us to leave and come back in three days?”
Gandhi replied, “Because three days ago, I, too, was eating sugar. I could not ask him to stop eating sugar so long as I had not stopped eating sugar.”
In order to get the best from your people, make them your top priority by slowing down to connect, by proving that you care, and by modeling what you want to see.
John Maxwell said it best, “Leaders who tend only to business often end up losing the people and the business. But leaders who tend to the people usually build up the people, and the business.”
It’s all about people!