Michael Rogers is the president of the Teamwork and Leadership Company which is focused on building better teams and leaders. He is the author of the bestselling book, You Are the Team—6 Simple Ways Teammates Can Go from Good to Great and an Inc. Top 100 Leadership Speaker. Michael resides with his wife Terri in Cedar City, UT. They have been married 31 years and have six sons (one-daughter-in-law), two daughters (two sons-in-law) and seven grandchildren. For more information on Michael’s books, products and speaking go to www.MichaelGRogers.com

Enter Michael…

Every Semester I have the privilege of teaching one course at our local University here in town.

The class is on building effective teams and we use my book, You Are the Team—6 Simple Ways Teammates Can Go from Good to Great as one of the required readings.

I had a student come to me a couple of months ago with an “ah ha” moment after reading the first chapter—Be Selfless. She said, “I now know why my parents divorced.”

“Why,” I asked.

She said, “Because my father stopped serving my mother.”

Wow, I thought. She is right.

Service is at the very core of every functional relationship. The more we serve, the more we care and love those we serve. When we take the time to serve others, it is often reciprocated and those who serve us begin to care and love more as well. It becomes what I like to call the “Super Service Effect Ball of Energy.”

Let’s look at marriage for example. I am betting that you never waved a wand and just like that your sweetheart magically fell in love with you.

It wasn’t one thing that you did or even five things that you did that made him or her fall in love with you. Love blossomed because of consistent acts of service then continued over the span of your marriage.

When you woke up in the morning and breakfast needed to be fixed and the kids dressed and fed, you didn’t look over at your sweetheart and roll over back into a slumber hoping that she would notice that the kids were awake and that she would get up and take care of the problem. No, instead, you quietly got up, so as not to wake her, and took care of the kids.

When he came home and he was complaining how his feet hurt from standing on them all day, you didn’t simply say, “I’m sorry” and go back to your tasks for the evening. Instead, you took his feet in your hands and lovingly cared for them.

When you came home after having a terrible day and you can tell she had a terrible day as well and that she wanted to talk, you didn’t say “let me tell you about my day first.” Instead, you said those three magic words every woman likes to hear, “tell me more.” For the remainder of the night, you became more interested in her, instead of trying to be interesting.

Your sweetheart fell in love with you because you put him or her first. And you showed you were putting him or her first by serving.

When we stop serving, we start caring more about our own needs than the needs of others. Selfishness, not selflessness, becomes the unfortunate foundation of our relationship.

Relationships can’t survive very well when rooted in selfishness

Teams at their very core are about relationships and will struggle to survive on the selfish desires and actions of its teammates. Whether that is a ward council, Relief Society presidency, elders quorum presidency or any other type of council, presidency or organization (all teams in some form). When members begin thinking more about themselves than others, dysfunction is likely to take hold.

Selfishness leads to diminishing trust, communication breakdowns, a lack of commitment to goals and the fading of accountability.

The best way to prevent such dysfunction on any team, or any council, presidency, or organization is to simply serve each other regularly. By the way, the only way to start serving regularly is to just start. It only takes one person in a council, presidency or organization who regularly serves to ignite others to action. Like one match when lit in a box of matches, you will soon find others joining in.

I had a client some time ago who shared that he loved everything about his job except the people problems. He said there was so much negativity, backbiting, gossip and complaining about others on his team that he was really tired. He didn’t like coming to work anymore.

However, that all changed when one person on his team made the decision to start asking others on the team what she could do to help them. Because of her example of care and service, others started asking each other what they could do to help them. He said it was unbelievable. As his team started caring and serving each other, the environment in the office became more positive and trust improved greatly.

As a leader or as a thoughtful companion or teammate, the best place to start is with you.

If you see an opportunity to serve, then serve. Don’t wait to be asked, just serve. If someone needs help, volunteer to help. If someone’s shoulders seem to be drooping a bit, ask what you can do to help.

Service is the best and most powerful when it is sought by the one seeking to serve rather than asked by the one seeking service. When one person in any relationship begins regularly asking what they can do, instead of waiting to be told what to do, that’s when relationships; whether it be marriage, councils, presidencies, organizations or any other team, becomes highly functional and magical.

Whether you are wanting to unify your presidency, ward council, quorum or auxiliary, making inspired efforts to sincerely serve its members will have a remarkable unifying effect. It’s simple, but powerful…serve.

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