You don’t have to be in the leadership world very long before you realize relationships with people are paramount. Sometimes, however, that realization leads to manipulating the process, trying to figure out ways to appear to be people focused. Relationships simply become a business tool, an inauthentic success strategy.It is important to be genuine in the building of relationships, both personally and professionally. Demonstrating respect, showing compassion and loving people, loving what I do, loving the process and not being afraid to live my passion will all strengthen me as a leader.We often make life more complicated than it needs to be. Simple is powerful. The closer we get to truth, the simpler and more powerful the principles and lessons become. There are three verbs that characterize the best kind of leadership in action. I don’t know anything simpler or more powerful than loving, serving, and caring. These actions seem so simple we overlook them. We turn to complicated educational programs and expensive success strategies when the truth is back to the basics. Jon Gordon in his leadership book The Carpenter inspired me and caused me to summarize these thoughts. Let’s take a look.LOVE—this is the place it starts. Steve Jobs proclaimed, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle.”When you love what you do, it changes you and the way you attack life. You will not resent obstacles, but you will embrace all the challenges, adversity and rejection to keep doing what you love. When you don’t persevere, it goes back to a simple fact: you don’t love what you do enough to persevere and become great at it. The key is to do what you love and love what you do. If the job you currently have doesn’t give that to you, love for specific things within your job you love until you find something else.Love is the first and most important separator between good and great. Good coaches know their strategy, but great coaches know and love their players. Great bosses know their company, but great bosses know and love their team. Good leaders know the vision and purpose, but great leaders know and love their people. Love is the greatest leadership and teambuilding principle, customer service strategy and sales technique on the planet. Regardless of the title we hold or the profession we follow, to be human is to love and want to be loved. It’s simple. Greatness is built with love.SERVE-- Serving is love in action. There is no real love without it. Service is not defined in one way—it takes many shapes and forms. You can wash feet, march for civil rights, serve sandwiches, help the needy, feed the poor, build schools and wells in Africa, assist the elderly, serve your customers, patients, and students, and coach others to greatness. There are so many diverse things you can do, but all acts of service have one thing in common: it always puts the needs of others before your own.The truly great always serve. Wherever you find a great company, you will find they serve their clients well. Hospitals known for greatness serve their patients’ interest first and foremost. Great leaders serve the people they lead. Great schools are clear on the fact that they exist to serve the growth and development of their students. Coaches achieve greatness by serving their players. “Great leaders don’t succeed because they’re great. They succeed because they bring out the greatness in others.” (Jon Gordon)You don’t have to be great to serve, but you DO have to serve to be great. There’s a great side benefit of serving as well. When you love and serve people, you help them improve and grow. Then YOU improve and grow in that process. The wise words of Jesus long ago tell us that when we lose our lives we find them. This is true in the area of serving. When you lose your ego and lay down your life to serve others, you will find greatness you didn’t know you had.CARE--When you love and serve you find ways to show that you care. Because you love and value people, they feel important because you let them know that they matter. You focus on the details because everyone and everything matters.Caring does you much good as well as a leader. When you care you stand out in a world where so many don’t seem to care. A person who cares does more, gives more, becomes more, and creates more. People flock to a person who cares. A caring person attracts and inspires people.Gordon says, “When you care you become a craftsman/craftswoman instead of a carpenter. A carpenter builds things, but a craftsman/craftswoman puts their heart, soul, spirit and passion into their craft. Instead of creating something ordinary a craftsman/craftswoman creates and builds something great.” What a wonderful legacy to leave—creating something extraordinary. Many people say to focus on growing your business, developing your skill, or gaining knowledge... But a person who focuses on loving, serving, and caring is guaranteed to grow. One person at a time, people will be drawn to you and will support what you do. It is simple, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.It’s not complicated but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s easy to be demanding. It’s easy to focus on the outcome instead of the process. It’s easy to focus on the numbers instead of people. It’s easy to work and walk on people. The path to greatness isn’t easy but it is simple. Do what you love. Serve others. Show you care. You will do more than grow a business—you will grow people, and as they become great, your greatness grows.Gordon points out a great example of this kind of leadership. He says, “A great example of this is Ken Crenshaw, the head athletic trainer for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Most people outside the building wouldn't know who he is but if you asked the team who's one of the most influential people in the building they would say Ken Crenshaw. He helps players recover from injuries, listens to their personal and professional challenges, shares advice and frequently hands out inspirational books (some of mine) to encourage his players. He's part trainer, part psychologist, part librarian and 100% leader.I saw his influence first hand while visiting him at the Diamondbacks spring training facility the other day. As he showed me around, I met player after player who had read The Carpenter or Training Camp because Ken gave them a copy and encouraged them to read it. They didn't know me from Adam. But they knew Ken and trusted him because he loves, serves and cares. I wasn't supposed to speak to the team but that happened too because Ken recommended it to the new manager, and even though he had never heard of me, he trusted Ken's suggestion.”See, you don’t need a title to be a leader. You don’t need any of the things we commonly think are required. You simply need to love, serve, and care to influence the people around you and your influence will grow.One more thing I would add. Great leaders also add accountability. When a leader loves his or her people, he is committed to making them better. Because of that, he will hold you accountable to the team and the high standards and values of the culture. If you have love without accountability, you’ll be a loving family but not a great team. Accountability without love leads to disengagement, burn-out and dysfunction. When you add accountability to loving, serving, and caring, greatness as a leader and a team is just a matter of time.
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