Add value by serving others

Published 9:50 pm Thursday, August 24, 2017

By Elaine Lankford

There’s a lot to be said about the old adage “A house divided cannot stand.”

In today’s market, where competition is sometimes steep, businesses sometimes fall apart from the inside out.


Email newsletter signup

What causes such destruction? At first glance, it may appear that factors such as issues with supply and demand or corporate debt are to blame. But let’s dig a little deeper, realizing that these problems are most likely symptoms of an unspoken, underlying leadership issue.

The Law of Addition has little to do with calculating numbers and everything to do with how business owners value their best asset — their people.

The Law of Addition states “Leaders add value by serving others.” Does that sound a little counterintuitive? If so, hang in there as we explore this concept.

In his book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” John Maxwell states: “I believe the bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others. That is achieved by serving others and adding value to their lives.”

Regardless of where we find ourselves on the leadership ladder, we did not get there without being in relationship with others. So are you adding to or subtracting from the lives of those you lead?

Want a more loyal, creative, satisfied workforce that achieves beyond the company’s expectations? Then regularly serve your employees. You’ll soon see those additions you are making in people’s lives are starting to multiply.

Not interested in what others think or feel? Still believe your climb up is a one-person show? You’ll soon be confronted with the fact that subtraction only leads to division, and that it happens almost automatically.

How do we cultivate and reflect The Law of Addition? Maxwell provides four principles.

First, we add value to others when we truly value others. Nothing says, “I value you” like serving someone in a genuine and meaningful way.

If I took to Twitter and constantly asked for likes and retweets alone, my followers would soon abandon me. But when I take the time to respond to their direct messages, answer their questions and offer them meaningful advice or tips, I demonstrate that I value them.

Second, we add value to others when we make ourselves more valuable to others. If I want to serve someone by mentoring them in a certain area, I must first make sure that I am educated, skilled, and/or talented enough to provide them with something they don’t already possess.

Nothing is worse than engaging another person for the sole purpose of gaining knowledge and then realizing they don’t really have anything to offer.

Third, we add value to others when we know and relate to what others value. How do we discover what others value? We listen to them. We take the time to sit and hear them out, while we simultaneously resist the urge to interrupt.

Seems simple enough, until you try it. With time, however, this simple act can become the doorway to great feedback and idea creation.

And lastly, for those of faith, we add value to others when we do things that God values. For us, Jesus is our greatest example of a leader who constantly served others. Matthew 20:16 reminds us that in God’s economy, “The last will be first, and the first last” (ESV).

Today, let’s find a way to add value and be of service to those we lead and watch the return on investment start adding up.

Elaine Lankford is a John Maxwell certified coach, teacher, trainer, and speaker. She is the founder of Transforming Love Ministries LLC and a board member of the Christian Business Coalition of Hampton Roads. Email her at