Whether you are an entrepreneur, educator, pastor or business executive, influence begins when you start serving others and serving others begins with gratitude. Never underestimate the power that being thankful has on framing our perception of others. It opens us up to the things in life that matter. When you call someone by name, ask them about their children, or share in the emotion of their experiences, you transcend being a boss and become a mentor. In an age where the pressure to perform has never been higher, you have a choice to make. Will you drive people to accomplish your goals, or will you inspire them to achieve their dreams? The result is the same, but the path to getting there is very different.

Your influence will multiply when the people you lead believe that you want the best for them, that you appreciate who they are, their contributions, and that you need them to get where you’re going. If people are just resources to you, then you’ll never be able to tap into the genius within them, and you’ll limit the potential impact of your organization.

What does serving others look like?

•   Serving others starts with a thankful heart and gratitude leads to serving. Serving others requires you to place the needs of others above your own. It’s not about what you want; it’s about how you can help them grow.

•   Serving others means you are willing to be inconvenienced. Make time to invest in others. You’ll consistently be surprised by the ROI.

•   Serving others means you step out of the office and onto the production floor. Don’t stay in the ivory tower. Roll up your sleeves and sweat with the people you lead. You’ll earn their respect.

•   Serving others eliminates your need to be the source of all the answers, solutions and ideas. Invite advice, insights and solutions from the people on the frontlines of the problem you are trying to solve or barrier you are trying to overcome. They’ve likely thought about the situation way more than you have, and their ideas are likely to be very practical and tangible.

If you want to know the secret to exponential influence, the kind that will take you, the people you lead, and your organization to the next level, I’ll tell you. At the heart of influence is the willingness to serve others.