Adding Value to People

Three years ago I picked up a CD set from the Catalyst 2007 event and listened to a talk that I have been processing through ever since. The talk was given by John Maxwell and is exactly 18 mins & 26 secs long of perfection in my book. I still remember driving down the highway heading to Durham, NC while on vacation in the car alone and hearing it for the first time. Maxwell based the entire talk around the idea of VALUE and laid it out in four simple but powerful points. And the one thing that Maxwell asks everyone to take away from the conversation was:

Intentionally add VALUE to people every day.

And before I get to the four points we must remember the following statement as well:

The greatest way to add value to people is to find your ‘strength zone’ and then leverage those strengths for others.

To keep it short and sweet, your ‘strength zone’ is your spiritual gift as a leader, your sweet spot. To be the most effective leader you must find out what you are good at and focus your leadership around that particular spiritual gift. Once you find out your ‘strength zone’ you can lead from a very focused position within the following four points:

Value People

Before you can add value to people, you must first value people. You CANNOT add value to people, if you do not value people. You see, it took me a long time to learn how to truly develop people in my early days of leading people because I did not actually value people. You have to love people. You have to want to see people succeed. You have to put others first.Before you continue to the next three points ask yourself one very important question:

Why do you want to be a leader?

Do you want an office? Do you want more money? Do you want control?

Make Yourself More Valuable

Next you must add value to yourself before you can add value to others. You must keep developing as a leader, keep learning, keep reading, keep listening. This may sound like a selfish point, but think of it like this. How can you lead people and give things away if you have nothing to give away. You can never start coasting as a leader. Never stop seeking wisdom and never quit reading.

Know What Others Value

You need to know and relate to what others value. As a leader you must first LISTEN and then learn. If you do things in that order you will become a great leader.  You must walk the hallways at work and peak your head in others offices. You need to follow volunteers on Twitter and interact. You see, that is how you will find out what people value. Its hard work and takes time, but is necessary to becoming a true people developing leader.

Know What God Values

If you really want to add value to people, you must know what God values. The world we live in has so many different ways of how to show value. Some are great ways and some not so much. So to truly know how to value people you must be in tuned with God and scripture to know what He values. This is the part where most business leaders would check out, but this has to be your foundation leaders.

I hope that this helps you grow in your leadership abilities. Also, I want to point out that this is for everyone who has a heartbeat and can interact with people. I believe that EVERYONE is a leader and you lead people daily whether you like it or not. If someone looks up to you or asks you for advice and models you, then you are leading them. So I pray that this is thought about with great focus and zeal. Why you may ask, because it has completely changed the way I lead my wife, volunteers, family, friends and strangers walking through a store.

So throughout today begin to ask yourself, “Am I adding or subtracting from someone today?”

What’s In the Bag (Part 1/3)

I’ve seen this type of post on a lot of blogs and decided to do a quick update on “what’s in my bag”. I am actually in the middle of looking for a new office/work bag to use on a daily basis. I currently use a wonderful Swiss backpack that carries everything plus more, but is quite heavy just by itself. So I’m looking for a bag that will hold the following items plus one hardcopy book. Also this is part one of a three part series and you can now read part two, “What’s on the laptop“.

  • Apple MacBook Pro Retina 2.4 GHz – Light and the screen is gorgeous.
  • Apple iPhone 5 64 GB – My wife gifted me w/the 64 GB which is paying off big time with the offline Rdio library!
  • Evernote Classis Moleskin, Large Ruled – LOVE this new journal/notebook. Lays nice and flat and has a great Evernote feel and design to it. (still have not tried the smart stickers)
  • Evernote 15” Laptop Sleeve – I just got this a few days ago and love the texture and feel of this sleeve. Starting to leave my backpack at work and only using this now.
  • Pilot Hi-Tec-C Gel Ink Pen with Grip – 0.4 mm – Best pen in the world! This is the one area where I am a diva. I will only write with this 0.4 pen or its sister the 0.3. Must order from company in Japan though.
  • Kero Lighting Nomad Cable – Great little key chain iPhone cable for charging. I bought it from a small company who created it from a Kickstarter program.
  • Klipsch S4i In-Ear Headphones – Another piece of gear I can’t go anywhere without. The best sounding headphones I have ever listened to. I also own a pair of Image One Klipsch full size headphones not pictured here.

And other than a good book this is my main tools I use daily.

I would love to see what you may have tucked away in your backpack. Share with us below in the comments section below or on Twitter/Instagram what you may be using that we should be checking out.

Five Things Not to Do During Annual Reviews

Over the last two weeks I have had the honor of sitting down with some of my staff to conduct annual reviews. This is always a good time because it gives us a chance to look into the future and not so much the past. And to most this unfortunately sounds wrong because they spend the time informing their staff members of how they have not met expectations and how they can improve on that.

Now I have only been in the position to conduct annual reviews for two years now, but I feel like I have learned a lot in these two years. I am still learning and pushing to get better, but there are a few things I have learned.

Here 5 things that may be causing you problems in your annual review:

1. You Don’t Prepare

Be sure to have some type of structure or review/evaluation sheet to use as you prep for the review. Usually your organization has some form of evaluation form, but if not be sure to create your own. Take the evaluation form and be sure to fill it out completely and spend a decent amount of time thinking back over the past year. This is your moment to “officially” pour into your staff. Do not forget to prep.

2. You Don’t Share Your Expectations Throughout the Year

If you do not share your expectations throughout the year, don’t expect the review to go very well. It’s your job as a leader to lead your staff throughout the entire year by sharing with them when they are meeting expectations/job requirements or not. Believe me, your staff would rather you tell them when they begin to move off course and not at the end the year. Trust that your staff wants to do their best and the way for them to do that is by having one-on-one time throughout the year. Do not forget to share your expectations during the year.

3. You Don’t Let Them Respond

I once sat in a review at an old job while in my early years of college and I was not given one moment to respond and ask questions during my review. The review went for the most part real well, but I did have questions about some of the expectations that I was not meeting. Unfortunately I was not able to get much clarity on the topics and left with not much vision or motivation. Be sure as you share both the strengths and the weakness (aka: opportunities for improvement) you let your staff respond, ask questions, disagree, agree, etc. The point here is to be sure there is a conversation happening during the review. Do not forget to let them respond.

4. You Don’t Let Them Share their Thoughts

This I guess could be part 2 of the above point. At the end of each review I have with my staff I now allow for 30–45 mins of time to be theirs. After we go through my thoughts and structure I open up the time for them to share how they feel. It’s their time to let me know how they feel I am doing & our organization. This may seem backwards during a review session, but believe me this is one of the best times you can have to walk out of your office on the same page. Your staff most likely are very passionate and smart people. They are also the people with their so-called “boots on the ground” in their specific areas. So listen when they show signs of worry, stress, hesitation, etc. What I have learned is just because I am higher up the org chart and been around longer does not mean I have the best idea in the room nor the real-time data like someone who works in the trenches each day. This does not mean you automatically take their ideas and run with them. Just be sure to give their thoughts the weight they deserve. They are most likely carrying out the work you will be putting into play. So do not forget to let them share their thoughts.

5. You Don’t Lose the Desk

This is a simple one. Get out from behind your desk. Move to a coffee table, couches, booth, picnic table, etc. Anything will work other than putting a desk in between you and your staff member. I learned this from my boss/mentor Chris Kuhne. The boss’ desk has some type of stigma with it and it’s best to tear down that barrier. Do not forget to find that coffee table.


This is my first time back at writing, so I apologize for the grammar (which I am terrible at), but I did want to start sharing my thoughts. My favorite author John Maxwell says Leadership is influence, and I want to share what I have learned throughout the years with others. I hope you find this article helpful and if so, feel free to share it with a friend.