The facilitator asked the class, what is it you want from the people on your team? As I considered his question and began to write, the facilitator interrupted my thought process by asking a question that would forever change my leadership mindset; “Don’t you want things FOR your team, not FROM your team?”

My colleagues and I attended the pilot offering of a new John Maxwell Company training course called “Know What You Are FOR.” This new one-day course was being delivered by Jeff Henderson, the course creator and author of the book “Know What You’re FOR: A Growth Strategy for Work, An Even Better Strategy for Life.”

The course is designed to equip leaders with the tools and understanding to grow an organization through purpose and profit. Jeff had learned and shared with us that people expect brands to contribute to our well-being and quality of life. When we find companies that do those two things, those are the companies that earn our business.

Your Reputation as a Leader

What changed my thinking that day as I considered Jeff’s question was the realization that I could be contributing to the well-being and quality of life of the people on my team simply by how I choose to lead.

Consider for a moment the difference in your reputation as a leader if people thought you wanted something FOR them and not just something FROM them. It is just a small twist in the wording with enormous implications for how you lead.

FROM versus FOR

Leaders who want something FOR the people on their team motivate those team members by finding ways to help them be successful in their work. These leaders show they care about the person both professionally and personally. And these leaders develop and maintain trust with their followers through consistently looking for ways to remove obstacles and make things easier.

Leaders who want something FROM the people on their team can be perceived as manipulating others to get what they need to succeed. People could feel less valued, causing them to disengage.

5 Tips to Move Toward Being a FOR Leader

Here are some practical ways we can demonstrate to the people in our circle of influence (Work, Home, Community) that we are FOR them instead of wanting something FROM them:

  1. Don’t lead everyone the same; treat people as the unique individuals they are. We don’t all need the same things. If you know the people on your team, you should know how to lead them in a meaningful way.
  2. Observe individual needs. Invest time observing your teammates in the work environment. Make a note of how they execute their roles. Look for needs they may have and how you can add value to what they are doing.
  3. Invest time in coaching the people on your team. It’s not enough to observe their needs; you need to add value by helping them grow and improve through regular coaching and feedback.
  4. Invest in equipping and developing each member of your team. When you equip someone, you help them with the skills to do their jobs better. When you develop someone, you help them become better people. Developing may include leadership skills, communication skills, or any number of other areas that will help them grow as a person.
  5. Remove obstacles that hinder progress. Nothing says you are FOR me like helping make my job easier. Find ways to clear the path to success for the people on your team.

A key question to ask yourself is, “What do you want to be known FOR as a leader?” When you have a clear view of the answer, you can evaluate what you ARE known for as a leader. If there is a gap between those two answers, then you will know what you need to work on to close that gap.

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.