Last week I asked several young leaders a simple question: What are the two most essential values you've learned from your grandparents?
Everyone responded quickly and most people gave more than two values. But as I listened to their answers, a theme emerged.
The values that the young people learned from their grandparents that they cherished the most were based on two things: forming strong connections and showing leadership.
One young person told me that his grandparents attended 43 of the 45 hockey games he played while growing up. By being in the audience, his grandparents connected with him in a way that goes beyond support. They participated in his life and that's what connecting is all about.People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Connecting increases your influence in every situation. This is crucial whether you're trying to lead a child or a nation. In his book, “Everyone Communicates and Few Connect”, John Maxwell reminds us that to communicate effectively we must first connect.
The young hockey player also said that his grandfather has a servant's heart.
Both of his grandparents put others first. They were always ready to lend a helping hand and they did it with the biggest smile. That is leadership.
Modelling himself after his grandparents, this young man also has a servant’s heart. He connects with his clients daily and is a leader in his industry. This is what his grandparents have given to him.
Yet his success depends not only on people. It depends on technology too. He uses technology to connect with his family and his clients, which increases his influence in every situation.
And here's what may surprise you. As with people, the two most essential values that make technology successful are forming strong connections and showing leadership. People and technology have something important in common.
A few days after I'd interviewed the young people, I was in a restaurant. Right beside our table, an elderly couple enjoyed a meal with their twenty-something grandchildren. The family members laughed and hugged. It was a common scene.
But they did something new that wouldn't have happened ten years ago. They connected through technology.
While they waited for their meal, the grandchildren taught the older couple how to take a selfie. And they supplemented the experience with text messages. In the process, the grandparents learned how to text and share pictures. While this may seem trivial at first, the results are important.
Because of their willingness to connect with their grandchildren through technology, this couple now has a way to exchange updates with the people they care about.
Everyone at the table experienced connection and leadership. And that experience will continue even when they are apart because they have learned how to leverage technology for a human end.
Whether you interact through technology or in person, what people will remember most about you is how you make them feel.
Have a servant’s heart, value other people, be helpful, and offer a caring spirit. This is how leadership is formed and sustained throughout our lives. Whether you're a grandparent, parent, uncle, aunt, or friend, people will migrate to you if you work hard at forming strong connections and have a servant's heart.
The best is yet to come. It starts with you.