The most successful leaders are true servant leaders. These are the people who recognize the key to their success will be found in those who work for them. If someone wants people who are committed to the task and focused on the success of the company that person must be focused on their success. One of the most important things a servant leader can do is to ensure that his or her key employees have everything they need to be successful themselves. This may mean that the leader must be willing to work longer hours than anyone else. It might require the leader to sacrifice part, or even all, of his or her salary at times. If the leader isn’t willing to sacrifice for the good of the organization, why should anyone else?
In John Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (10th Anniversary Edition) he writes about the Law of Sacrifice. This law teaches that you have to be willing to give up to go up. Successful athletes do not get that way purely on their talents. They spend a lot of their lives on the practice fields or courts before they enjoy success. Musicians spend a lot of time practicing their instruments before they become proficient. Anyone, in any endeavor, who becomes successful sacrifices far more than the average person realizes. While others are playing, they are working or practicing or learning. There is no success without sacrifice. There is no going up without first giving up some things.
One important question that must be asked is what are you willing to give up? When I owned a small business our primary vendor brought in one of their largest and most successful dealers to motivate us to enjoy the success he had earned. It all sounded good until he jokingly mentioned his third wife. To me, he had given up too much of the wrong things. At that point I lost interest in anything else he had to say.
Some are willing to give up their health, their families, their integrity, their moral principles to be successful. That is too great a cost. For me, a person is not successful if they lose who they are. There are many things I’m willing to give up in order to go up, but I cannot give up the person God created me to be.
One of the things about success is the more successful you become, the more you are asked to give up. When I worked in a factory my job was protected by our union. When someone left the factory floor to become a foreman they gave up that protection. I believe the most powerful leader in the world is the President of the United States, but look at all that person must give up. Every word is scrutinized and criticized. There is absolutely no privacy. Everywhere he goes there is a detail of security. He isn’t even allowed to drive a car. His life, and that of his family, is an open book for all the world to see. While there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of people seeking the position, I am convinced some of the best people refuse to do so because they will have to give up too much if they were to win.
What you are unwilling to give up will often determine how far up you will go. The level of success you will experience is directly related to what you are willing to sacrifice. Be willing to sacrifice, but don’t sacrifice who you are just in order to enjoy a measure of success. It won’t be worth it.