Leadership…What’s Below The Water Line.


Leadership can be compared to an ICEBERG.  Above the water are skills (SERVE); below the water is character, leadership character.  But what is leadership character?

When we think about character traits like integrity, responsibility, honesty, and hard working come to mind.  But aren’t these traits we expect everyone to have? Yet, we all know that leaders do something in addition to these traits.

If we don’t demonstrate leadership character, our skills and results will be discounted.  People will just see us as talented individual contributors.

In the previous post I introduced Mark Miller’s take on leadership character traits: Hunger for Wisdom, Expect the Best, Accept Responsibility, Respond with Courage, and Think Others First.

Let’s talk about the one that connects them all: Think Others First.

To me thinking others first is more about my motivation and thought process than the activities I perform as a leader.  I like to compare this reasoning to me helping do the dishes to help my wife with the chores against cleaning the dishes because I feel it’s an obligation or I’m on a guilt trip.  The former is about honoring the person (wife); the latter is about avoiding a reprimand or the critique that may come later.

Hence, today I share 2 things I do to “Think Others Firsts”.

  • Look for Ways to Add Value.
    • This can go from a genuine how are you doing today to offering guidance on a specific project.
    • I have noticed that when I challenge myself to find something to add value to others, I’m immediately behave and act with a focus on others.
  • How does it affect others?
    • This question is one I use every time I make a decision.  In order to answer it, I must take a step back and try to understand how my actions will affect the work others do.
    • It’s a simple question that has helped me build relationships with others teams.  Which in turn, improved the effectiveness of the models built.

In what ways do you cultivate a service mentality?

Mark Millers gives more detail on this character trait in his book The Heart of Leadership.  Check it out here. Or check out the sample chapter.



Mark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else.  In his new book, The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow, Mark reveals the H.E.A.R.T. of leadership and provides steps that will help you grow as a leader, no matter what your title or position. From entry-level clerk to CEO, there’s room for everyone to improve when it comes to finding the Heart of a leader.

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