Learning From a Different Place – Part 5
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Reflecting on when I first started studying John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, The Law of Addition was perhaps the law I thought I most understood a decade ago. Now I realize that when I would read the subtitle, “Leaders add value by serving others,” I was not fully appreciating it for what it meant. Back then, I was practicing leadership as what I like to call “a benevolent autocrat”—someone who was well-meaning, kind, and of absolute authority. Yes, I wanted to be a servant leader who helped other people succeed, but I never really wanted to give up the authority. It was all about me, and I was stuck at level one leadership, Positional Leadership.

Since leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less, those who are most influential have the greatest opportunities. If I want to live the Law of Addition, I need to give up the authority and focus on building up others. Maxwell said it best, “The bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves, but how far we advance others.” Here are four key takeaways from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership that will help us advance others.

  • We add value to others when we truly value others. When we think of others, we need to view everyone as a 10 on a scale of 1-10. We may not know what they are a 10 at, but we need to believe that they are. When we do, our entire mindset shifts. This doesn’t mean that they may be a 10 at something our organization needs, so we may need to coach them to go somewhere else where they can reach their full potential.
  • We add value to others when we make ourselves more valuable to others. Since you can’t give what you don’t have, you can’t add value to others when you stop growing.
  • We add value to others when we know and relate to what others value. Some years ago, I was asked to think of two people that I work with and know the best. Then I was asked what their hopes, dreams, and beliefs were. I couldn’t answer the question. The lesson for me that day was that if I don’t know someone’s hopes, dreams, and beliefs, I don’t really know them, and I can’t lead them.
  • We add value to others when we do things that God values. (I realize that this is a faith-based takeaway, so if it doesn’t resonate with you, feel free to skip it.) When I view people the way God does, I not only respect them but have a desire to serve them.

The Law of Addition is all about serving others and never about having authority over them. When we serve others, we lift them up and help them achieve greater success. When we help others achieve their hopes and dreams, our hopes and dreams seem to take care of themselves.

How are you living the Law of Addition?