Are You Nurturing “Others First” Skills with Your Team?

Third in a series excerpted from his book FOSTERING CULTURE, A Leader’s Guide to Purposefully Shaping Culture

by Shane Jackson

Three values have become the standard for how we at Jackson Healthcare strive to behave in any situation: Others First, Wisdom, and Growth. If you are working in our company, it is important that you know what these values are, so you understand how we make decisions.

In the next three months, we’ll be spending time deeply considering each.

“Others Before Self” is first on the list for a reason.

If we could only choose one value to represent what we believe, it would be this one—think about the needs of others before your own. The very reason for the existence of our company is summarized and derived from this value—to improve the lives of other people. I believe this value drives the primary reason people come to work here—a desire to make money and make a difference by serving others.

Others First serves double duty for us as both a value and a belief about how to do business. It drives our behavior toward others and our business philosophy. For example, thinking about your customers’ needs before your own tends to lead to incredibly loyal customers. Want to attract and retain really high-quality people on your team? Think about how to serve their needs, wants, and desires.

The famous sales trainer Zig Ziglar said, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” If you can really understand what is in the best interest of someone else, you then have a path to provide them something truly valuable. Ironically, Others First is the ultimate strategy to achieve your totally selfish goals.

However, I would submit that there is nothing more rewarding than truly helping someone else.

An Others First mentality starts with Respect for the Individual. 

Each person has been uniquely created with specific traits, skills, and gifts. Personal value is not determined by a bank account, a position on an organization chart, or membership in a group.

In our company, respect is lost, not won. I respect you because you are intrinsically valuable and able to uniquely contribute in a way that no other person could. The quickest way to lose my respect is to show that you consider yourself more valuable than others.

The importance of this value has deep roots for my family. My father’s childhood was spent in the squalor of poverty as he lived with an alcoholic single mother. He was eventually pulled out of this situation and into the foster care system, living in an orphanage, and then ultimately, with a family of foster parents.

If there is any value that I inherited from my parents, it was this one—that every person is valuable and worthy of our respect. For if a poor kid from the streets is valuable, then so is everyone else.

It’s not called the Golden Rule for nothing, so treat others as you want to be treated.

As kids, we were told that if we want people to be nice to us, we should be nice to them. As adults, the applications are a bit more complex.

For example, when you face a difficult conversation with someone, ask yourself how you would reallywant to be treated in that situation.

If you were getting fired, what would you want the person firing you to say? Would you want them to just give you platitudes designed to minimize conflict, or would you really want to know what happened and why you were being let go—which would ultimately help you in the long run? And yet, what did you tell the last person you fired? Or even worse, what did you tell that person in their last performance review? Were you forthcoming with them?

When you really consider how you want to be treated, it means that you want people to communicate with you using your preferred style. Therefore, to follow the Golden Rule, you should use others’ preferred style to communicate with them. Not exactly what your grade school teacher taught you, huh?

There is a lot of power in author Stephen Covey’s adage, “Seek first to understand before being understood.” If you can crack that, you will communicate and build relationships like never before.

Esteem the Team

Great players make those around them better. And great coaches certainly do the same. Notice what the best coaches say —the ones who lead teams that win games andgenerate players’ loyalty and respect. If they lose, it is the coach’s fault. If they win, their players really played well.

Great teams know there are going to be ups and downs during the season. They know there will be some games when a player really plays well and some games when she is just off. But as teammates, they support and encourage each other through it. And they play harder for each other because of it.

The reality is that it doesn’t matter how good the star player is; in team sports everyone must do their job, or the team cannot win. In business, and certainly in a service business like ours, every person must do the job the right way for the customer to have the experience we desire. No person on the team is more important than any other.

We value teams not just because each person on the team has inherent worth, but because teams can accomplish what no one person can do alone. So, whether you are the coach, the star player, or the role player, if you want to be successful, you need the whole team to be successful. Figure out how to support and encourage your teammates, and you drastically increase the chances of that happening.

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