Value-Added Leadership

Few things increase the credibility of leaders more than adding value to the people around them. – John Maxwell

American artist James Whistler, who was never known to be bashful about his talent, was once advised that a shipment of blank canvases he had ordered had been lost in the mail. When asked if the canvases were of any great value, Whistler remarked, “not yet, not yet.”

Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. While it’s not too hard to spot beauty when we see it, the search for value might be a bit more challenging.

I came across an article in Inc. magazine ( by John Brandon in which he reveals the results of one survey that should grab the attention of every leader who has anything to do with his or her employees. Citing a survey by O.C. Tanner that surveyed 2,363 office workers it “found that, for those who feel appreciated, a whopping 89% feel satisfied in their jobs. That number drops to only 51% for those who said they don’t feel appreciated.”

In the same control group, 85 percent of the “appreciated” employees also said they were satisfied with life while 61 percent of the under-appreciated employees were not happy with life in general. The data creates a stark contrast in other areas as well, revealing that those who feel appreciated tend to be less stressed, have a better sense of belonging, and feel like they have better control over their life.”

In theory we know that employee engagement is a good thing. We intuitively know that we should be engaged and taking a proactive posture towards building relationships that make a difference. As a leader, the value that you add to your organization is like one of those blank canvases. The value is yet to be determined. So what can you do as a leader to make a difference and create a masterpiece? Here are four practical ways.

Add value with your words

You can add value to those in your sphere of influence simply by the words you speak. Be generous with praise, be passionate with vision, be patient in confrontation. But understand that the words you use set the tone for the way in which your employees react and how together you move forward as a team. When they feel valued they will perform like it.

Add value with your actions

In as much as your team likes to hear from you, what carries the day is not your words but your deeds. Talk is just that – talk. Value is added when you back it up with actions that move the team in the right direction. If you want to see morale soar in your organization be a leader that backs up the talk with action.

Add value with your


Your attitude is the thermostat for the morale of your organization. It’s most unrealistic for you to expect strong morale from those you lead if your attitude stinks. Can you blame them? You add value to those you lead with a strong attitude that knows how to celebrate accomplishments, is steady in times of testing, and sets the bar high with a winning attitude.

Add value with your


The findings in the above mentioned survey found that the quality of life not only at work but outside of it was much improved simply because the employees felt appreciated. What one, two, or three actions could you do today that would add value to those you lead? It’s not about righting the ship overnight, but it is about taking steps today that can begin to change the culture of your organization. And you don’t have to fly off to some fancy conference to learn or do this.

Adding value to those you lead should be utmost in your mind, your heart, and the focal point of the decisions you make. Are you a value-added leader?

©2016 Doug Dickerson

Doug Dickerson is an internationally recognized leadership speaker, columnists, and author. A Lowcountry resident, Doug is available to speak for your civic, business, or church group. To learn more visit or email him at

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