This past week I was fortunate enough to attend a training conference in Las Vegas with my amazing wife and a bunch of friends we made through our Social Marketing Business. While, I’m not going to elaborate on that business in this article, I invite you to reach out to me if you are interested in more information on it. Instead, I want to talk about what I learned about true leadership. (Read to the end and I’ll explain a little more why I think it’s a wonderful business…)
There are two messages about leadership that were consistently presented at this conference, and up until this past week, I hadn’t made the connection between them. The first is often referred to as “Servant Leadership”. You can find a mountain of books and definitions on what this means, so I’ll give you the briefest definition I can write: It’s a leader who puts the team and it’s members needs before their own. The second is expressed as a statement, or affirmation: “Lead from the Front”. What in adult life we know as lead by example. I feel these were combined together long ago and, as kids we were… well I was taught the principle in the form of this wonderful gem: “Do onto others, as you’d have them do onto you.” Am I reaching? Maybe. Let’s break it down, shall we?
First, the concept of servant leadership: You simply cannot do everything by yourself. You must get others to help you, so you can leverage your time and efforts on growing and moving your business forward. You must do this by clearly communicating your goals, then guiding / teaching your people how to do what needs to be done. The best example of this is in the businesses that believe in duplicating the successes of others, and innovating when possible. Time for some sayings to illustrate this…
As a servant leader your roll is to teach people to succeed at what they do. You give them your experiences and skills. You serve them as a guide to success and they in turn increase your success. By the way, this isn’t just a nugget from Network Marketing gurus, it also works in the corporate world. If the least of your team grows, so does the whole team! Put yourself in the service of your people to empower them and the motivational outcome benefits everyone… for a long time! Not sure you agree with me on this, just think of that manager who you branded as a micromanager. How empowered did they make you feel by always telling you what to do, instead of teaching you; always shouting at you for not getting it right, instead of offering help in a safe place to stumble and get up again. A servant leader wants the success of those they serve, because in the end it helps them succeed further as well. It’s called exponential growth. That’s why some awesome companies have policies that expect employees to contribute ideas for improvement and take the time to go through the process of evaluating the benefits of the idea with the employee. Take the time to see how they do it at Southwest Airlines by reading “Nuts”.
Ok, before I ramble too far, after all I’m running on only 3 hours sleep in the last 48 hours! The second concept feels much closer to the first now, don’t you think? Leading by example is a concept taught in management courses and usually to older siblings. And we also hear this in endless self-help books about developing success. It usually comes in the form of some rhetorically absurd question. Such as, if you needed a heart transplant, would you go to your mechanic? Or, if your friend jumps off a bridge, would you jump too? Ok, the last one, not so much, but the sentiment is that if you want to achieve certain results, it is best to learn from someone who has accomplished the results you want! So, how does a follower become a leader? By implementing the success strategies, attitudes, habits, and behaviours of those who are successful. So says… well more thought leaders than I can name within one page.
At this conference we heard from close to twenty leaders. Some came from hardships that might have crippled most of us, others came from places of great success in different fields. All spoke of this being the safest place to fail, and fail, and fail, and always be surrounded by help to learn how to get back up again and grow. Everyone, had a story that ended with a similar statement: “With all of my self-imposed limitations, if I can do it, so can you. We are all here to help you succeed.”
All gravitated to this company for similar reasons that could be summed up as culture. A culture of servant leadership, where the top producers are devoted to growing the success of others, no matter how successful they are or how far they are on their road to success. A culture of leaders who feel the great responsibility of mentoring by always striving for better themselves and sharing that Kaizen attitude. On paper it reads as “do as I do and you will have my success”; It is so very much more. There’s a devotion to listening to the needs of others, offering them all your experience and support, then empowering them to fly on their own. And it still goes beyond that… from these speakers we heard, saw, and felt that their greatest success was in helping others grow to become great leaders, while never mentioning themselves as the reasons for their success.
All this love and admiration may sound a little idilic and maybe it is to some, but the final message we got from all these amazing leaders wasn’t follow me to paradise, but all you need to do is decide to achieve and I will help you get to whatever your vision of success may be.
For myself, this company succeeds on shared values. There’s a commitment to health and wellness with only pure, safe, & beneficial products. There’s a commitment to combining the very best botanicals with the best scientific practices. There’s a commitment to delivering an ever improving infrastructure that continually minimizes adverse impacts on the fauna & flora of our planet. There’s a passionate commitment for sharing they abundance with one of the most amazing charitable organizations imaginable. There’s a deep and wide commitment to empowering others and sharing their successes. I’m kinda gushing right now, but I can tell you I am amazed by this company. With 37 years of continuous growth, and no end in sight, they truly offer one of the best vehicles to personal success I have ever seen. The only question I have is “How may I help you?” or As the inspiring John O’Leary asks: “What more can I do?”