An Unusual Leadership Tool

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November 20, 2017

An Unusual Leadership Tool

shoe brushWhat is your goal for your organization…your ministry? Most leaders would quickly say, “To be the best ___(name your type of media)_____ in the world…for the glory of God.”

I agree that is a great goal. But what is it going to take to make that goal become reality? If you came up with an answer to that question, maybe that should be your goal. Let me explain.

A recent speaker at our MEDIAlliance Leadership Summit is the founder of a very successful architectural firm. Raymond Harris told me that early on his goal was to be the best architectural firm in the world. With that as his goal, he did some things that moved his firm toward that goal…but at a price. Harris told me that after ten years, he made a radical change in his goal. His new goal?

Be the best employer he could be.

The difference was profound. If we have a goal for our organization, we would expect to go all out to achieve that goal. We might achieve a level of success…but at a price. And that price might be the people in our organization.

Dan Cathy heads up Chic-fil-A, the iconic fast food organization. He is the son of founder Truitt Cathy. John Maxwell writes about an unusual leadership tool that Dan Cathy gave him and other executives at a gathering. It was a shoe brush.

A nine-inch, 100% horsehair shoe brush!

After passing the brushes out to the group, Cathy called Maxwell to the front to show everyone how to use this leadership tool. Maxwell writes, “Dan sat me down, kneeled at my feet, then began cleaning my shoes with the brush.”

Cathy explained that it didn’t matter what type of shoes the person was wearing…even tennis shoes…you used the brush to clean them. Dan Cathy concluded, “Then…when you are done…you stand up and give them a big hug.”

OK…you’re not going to read that in most leadership books. The point he was making…and the thing Raymond Harris came to understand…is that those who work with us are the most valuable element in our organization, and the best thing we can do is serve them, help them, love them.

Maxwell wraps up his thoughts by saying that if you add value to those who work with you, you will become a better leader.

Isn’t this what Jesus taught his disciples? The first should be last. Take care of others. Put others first. Treat them the way you would like to be treated. Wash their feet. Jesus led by example.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Matthew 20:28 NLT

And Peter, passing along instructions, put it this way.

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

1 Peter 4:10 NLT

So… grab that brush, and let’s get busy serving others.

Ron Harris
Ron Harris

I assist Christian broadcasters and communicators around the world. Through training, consulting, mentoring, encouraging and praying, I hope “…to further the promise of life in Christ Jesus….”

2 Timothy 1:1 (NET)