The first and most important choice a leader makes is the choice to serve, without which one’s capacity to lead is severely limited. – Robert Greenleaf
As leaders, we sometimes forget the difference between “have to” and “get to.” Simply reminding ourselves how this change in perspective impacts our happiness, success and influence is pivotal.
Recently I had the opportunity to serve my team in a way that I do not often have: I got to do the dishes and clean the office kitchen after we had a very important client meeting. I can feel the eye rolls and the head shakes from a lot of readers, but you heard me right. This is not a task that was ever beneath me; however, on that day, the highest level of service I could deliver to my team and organization was with my arms elbow deep in suds. As I scrubbed plates, it reminded me that regardless of our position or title, sometimes we need a perspective change from “have to” to “get to” in order lead into our highest calling.
There is a perception, especially among emerging leaders, that once you arrive at a certain level of leadership or success you will no longer have to do anything you don’t want. Of course, we all learn that is just not the case; in fact, the only thing that changes is our perspective and attitude toward the work.
Leaders understand that they get to do the big things in their organization as the reward for being able to do the little things. I saw this lesson lived out with my friend Reid Ryan, who is now the President of the Houston Astros. Back when he was the President of the Round Rock Express Minor League Baseball team, we walked around Dell Diamond and Reid spent the time greeting the stadium’s ticket takers, vendors and housekeeping team members, all by name, while also stopping to pick up trash wherever he saw it.
It was at that moment that I knew who he was as a leader and a human being. When we later talked about his responsibilities to the team, investors, fans and players, he never mentioned picking up trash as part of those roles. When I probed him on it, his answer was concise and exactly what you expect from a high-performance leader. He said, “I get to come to the greatest ballpark in the country, hang out with amazing people and lead a tremendous team; the least I can do is be kind to people and clean up where I can.”
As leaders, our responsibility is to ensure our teammates and organizations are taken care of, whatever that takes. Each day, confident, balanced leaders take time to remind themselves of the difference between “get to” and “have to,” and in that change of perspective is the intersection of happiness and success.
Question: In what areas can you shift your perspective and better serve your team?