A Servant Mentality…

“The happiest people are those who care more about the happiness of others.” – Father Manuel La Rosa Lopez

“Before you are a leader, success is about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is about growing others.” – Jack Welch

What in the world do these two quotes have to do with each other? One is a clear reference to a personal state of mind, while the other is a reference to a professional mindset. Two completely different topics, so why try and blend them into one message?

In truth, they are exact mirrors of each other. Let me explain…

First, let’s examine the quote on happiness. My daughter recently graduated from high school and was fortunate to be awarded one of the Ronald McDonald House Charity academic achievement scholarships. To recognize the recipients the Houston chapter of the Ronald McDonald House held an awards breakfast in late May of this year. As part of this event, they brought in several speakers to share wisdom on both the importance of education and the necessity of hard work and effort in achieving long term success.

In and among the speakers – all of whom provided fantastic insights to help them attain financial success – was a speaker from one of the local Latino churches – Father Manuel La Rosa Lopez. And not surprising, while the other speakers shared insight on their own personal journey, Father Lopez took a very different path. He spoke of the importance of purpose, balance, and a caring heart. His closing statement summed it up nicely – “The happiest people are those who care more about the happiness of others”. Keep that in mind as we shift focus to the second quote I referenced.

The second quote comes from one of the most renowned and successful business leaders of our time – Jack Welch. Not only was he successful in leading General Electric to all-time highs in revenue growth, market share, and stock price, but his leadership principles have long since been replicated by other business owners/leaders.

What I found most intriguing about his quote is how closely it mirrored that of Father Lopez, albeit in a very different context. In the past I have written about the importance of hard work, dedication, and perseverance as elements in achieving personal success. Jack Welch seems to agree when he says, “Before you are a leader, success is about growing yourself…” It’s the second half of that quote that is the most relevant – “…when you become a leader, success is about growing others.”

Do you see the similarities? Truly happy people tend to be those who focus more on the happiness of others. Truly successful leaders tend to focus more on the success of others. A perfect parallel. The more recent term that has been coined in leadership circles fits this well – A Servant Leader.

In all my years trying to develop leaders, this is likely the most profound point I have ever stumbled across. No amount of strategy, process, or direction can make up for this. If a leader does not have a servant mindset – if their focus is not entirely on making those above, around, and below them successful – ultimately they will not succeed.

And remember, leadership is not an organizational role. It does not require a title, or direct reports. It can be those things, but it can also be a mindset.

So where is your focus? On yourself, or on others. Could you be short-changing your own happiness and success with the wrong focus?

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