Orrin Woodward LIFE Leadership Team

Winner of the 2011 Independent Association of Business Top Leader Award; Orrin Woodward shares his leadership secrets.

Leaders Make Others Feel Important – Not Themselves

Posted by Orrin Woodward on January 29, 2008

I loved this post by Matt Franks so much that I have decided to make it an article for all to see!  I think I will take my favorite comment of the week
and generate an entire post from it.  Please keep the great thoughts coming!
Today’s post is on treating others with dignity and respect.  I have experienced some egotistical managers on life’s journey and am disgusted by the way they view and treat people.  We all must serve and encourage others like Matt is displaying wherever he goes.  I will save the full treatment for a future post, but let me give you a preview to open Matt’s servant based leadership behavior. 

Let me share a story I wrote about two great Prime Ministers of Victorian England.  The general facts of the personalities of Gladstone and Disraeli are true, but I have taken artistic liberty to add other characters for suspense and development of the points.  

There is a 19th century story told about and older British woman who had the rare opportunity to have separate lunches with the two most famous living Englishmen of the era: William Gladstone and Benjamin Disraeli.  Both had been Prime Ministers of England several times.  Both were men of strong character, convictions and decisive leaders.  A young reporter tracked down the fortunate Victorian lady and requested an interview.  The reporter asked her questions about her lunches to determine what the two legendary PM’s were like as persons.  After asking questions like: “What did you discuss?”, “What did he eat?”, and “What were his thoughts on the political scene?” the reporter was wrapping up his interview and contemplating his story in tomorrow’s paper.  He had only one more question for the patient woman, “Which Prime Minister did you enjoy lunch with more?”  She thought for a moment and then a bright smile covered her face.  “When I went to lunch with William Gladstone,” she shared, “I was convinced that I was dining with the greatest living Englishmen!”  The reporter quickly scribbled down his thoughts and thinking the lady had finished was getting up to leave—not wanting to make her feel uncomfortable that she had chosen William Gladstone over Benjamin Disraeli.  As he was thanking her for her time, she politely told him she was not finished.  “When I went to lunch with Benjamin Disraeli,” she enthused, “I was convinced that he was dining with the greatest living Englishwoman!”   As the reporter was leaving, he vowed to never forget the beaming smile that had transformed the elderly ladies presence.  “Yes,” he thought, “it is nice to feel important and capable of impressing others by discussing eloquently on the many subjects of your choice.  But others will remember you on how nice it was to feel important to you and capable of impressing you by your attentive listening on the many subjects of their

Quote: “You can tell how “big” the person is by the way they treat the “little” person.


I love your 2 quotes! Very thought provoking! Hey I hope the book
signing went well in Michigan! This weekend I had an interesting
experience that I thought might fit into the title of your lesson especially
around responsibilities. It was an experience that I will never forget and
something I couldn’t wait to share with everyone! It reminded me about my
responsibility, as a growing leader, to always be a lifter for other people. 

For me, as I described in a few posts back, I have a responsibility to develop my God given potential and practice my personal “daily dozen” everyday. Why? I believe that my gifts and abilities are God’s gift to me and what I do with those gifts is my gift back to God! One of the practices I try to do daily is add value to people I have never met before. Whether it is opening up doors for others, saying hi, or striking up a conversation to learn about them I just want to add value to others. In other words I just follow the Golden Rule that is taught to all of us in the Bible: “Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.”

Of all places, my experience happened at a Wal-Mart with a 70 year old lady who was a cashier. 🙂 I was checking out in line and just struck up a conversation with this cashier and she worked there because her husband passed away and she needed to earn an income since her retirement was not very good. Anyways to make a long story short one of the items I purchased was 2 packages of Extra chewing gum. When she was done tallying up what I owed her she said “I charged you for 3 packages of gum instead of 2.” Then she burst into tears! I said “What is wrong? Is there anything I can help you with?” She said “about 5 minutes ago I did the same thing to someone else and he told me I was so ignorant that I shouldn’t even work at Wal-Mart. I am sorry if I made you upset.” I told her “ma’am I have shopped at many Wal-Mart’s during my lifetime, but I have never met someone as kind as you. You are a person of worth! I have watched you serve the previous 2 customers and I wish every store I went into had someone like you working the register!” I was in awe that a $1.99 mistake made this experience happen! She
said “the only person that ever said that to me was my husband, but since he
died no one has paid me a compliment like that before.” Can you believe that
someone made this woman feel so low for a $1.99 package of gum?!!!!! Anyways I went and got another package of gum off the shelf since I paid for it and then came back to show this wonderful cashier that it was OK. She held my bags and gave them back to me before I walked out the door. Then she said something to me that I will never forget. She gave me a hug and said “I know God has great things in store for you. Thank you for valuing me as a person and not seeing me as “just a cashier.” Like I said earlier this was at a Wal-Mart! I went out to my car and just sat stunned because I couldn’t believe that experience just happened. It was something I will never forget and know now how important it is to carry out the responsibility of treating everyone with love and respect.

That is why the stakes of leadership are so high! You see when opportunity comes, as we all know, it is too late to prepare. I am very thankful because of my continued leadership learning through TEAM and other leadership organizations I was prepared to add value to someone that just got de-valued by someone else. This experience teaches me that no matter who we ever talk to or run into, God brings us to that moment for a specific reason, but it is our responsibility to be lifters to all people not just a select few! However in order to be a lifter in other people’s lives we have got to check our EGO at the door! Back off and stop taking yourself too seriously, because you can’t help anyone if you are only concerned with helping yourself! I must say though if I would have seen that man treat the cashier the way he did I might have been asking for forgiveness! 🙂

There are so many people that everyday are de-valued or de-edified by Egotistical and our jobs as leaders is to see others not as they are, but see them as they could become. It is our responsibility to see the good in other people and tell them how those great qualities will serve others well.

Thanks Orrin!




Assignment:  Are you making others feel important?  In what specific
ways do you make others feel accepted, approved and appreciated?

One Response to “Leaders Make Others Feel Important – Not Themselves”

  1. […] is a great story I found on Orrin Woodward’s leadership blog, […]

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