In John C. Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (2007), John shares the law of addition. While leaders often receive the accolades for success, great leaders understand that success results from the collective effort of a team. Using those successes to bolster one’s own position at the exclusion of the team eventually erodes the loyalty of followers to that leader and the ability of the leader to inspire those that follow. Many view leadership and success in a similar way – climb the ladder as fast and far as possible. The law of addition focuses on advancing others, not ourselves.
Leadership is an act of service to others. The best place to serve is not always at the top. The best place to serve is where you add the most value to others. Leaders add value to others but valuing others, adding value to others, and relating to what others value.
Great leadership is based on establishing relationships and relationships require that you truly value people. I discussed this topic with a manager at Motorola whom I respect for his leadership ability and managerial skill. He stated, “It’s not about me, it’s about the people.” That attitude, when exhibited in daily interactions, instills loyalty in the team.
Great leadership requires that you add value to others. Adding value to others necessitates that you build skills and experience then share that learning with others. This points us back to an important trait of the leader. The leader is dedicated to life-long learning, as ceasing to learn begins the erosion of the value that you can offer to other people.
Great leadership requires that you relate to what other people value. We expect to receive great service but often fail to give great service. Great service requires that you understand those you serve, which comes through listening to and learning about the people you interact with.
Leadership greatness begins by adding value through service to other people. Do you truly value the people with whom you interact? Do you add value to others by sharing your knowledge, skill, and experience? Do you understand and appreciate what other people value?
Links to other posts in this discussion on the laws of leadership.
Mind map of the 21 laws of leadership.
Introduction to the leadership laws
1 – The Law of the Lid
2 – The Law of Influence
3 – The Law of Process
4 – The Law of Navigation
Maxwell, John. (2007). The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.