The Leading Edge: In Service of the Team

Amy MontoyaBy: Amy Smith Montoya

Many people want to be THE leader. Prestige, privilege, and popularity, all perceived benefits of some leadership positions, attract rising stars who focus on “what’s in it for me.” What are the rewards of MY hard work? The brass ring!
Yet, in my experience, successful leadership of teams requires a shift in one’s leadership paradigm from privilege and reward to service and sacrifice. And it’s more than just service and sacrifice in actions. It’s a paradigm shift in a leader’s heart.
Fifteen years ago, I took over a team that had been allowed to become pretty dysfunctional. The team was characterized by rumors, distrust, and active undermining of other team members. Up until this role, my experience had been one of managing outside contractors and information. I was quite happy enforcing agreements and manipulating spreadsheets. People seemed to be just a “necessary evil” in the production process and efficiency. In fact, I wasn’t sure I even liked people all that much!
As I moved to a position of people oversight, I quickly realized viewing the team as an entity to serve my goals wasn’t going to work. This particular team had been unappreciated and neglected. Policies were implemented that didn’t take into consideration the impact on those carrying them out. A culture of sharing only “good” information encouraged fear of making mistakes.

John C. Maxwell, in his best-selling book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, asserts that the Law of Buy In requires that people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. As eager as I was to create change in the culture, growing my personal influence had to happen first. This is what I learned:

Set out to know people as individuals. Get personal. Ask about people’s aspirations, what they consider to be their strengths, and what frustrates them most. Listen first; implement changes later. Your team members will come to understand that they have a voice and are valued.

Empower people. Based on what team members consider their gifts, work hard to find specific roles or tasks for each that would give each individual responsibility for the success of the team. These can be specific projects like marketing plans, research, or training. Alternatively, roles of encourager, accountability partner, or mentor can also fold team members into the group. People need to feel personal success.

Don’t do this in secret. Every individual on the team wants to know what their leader appreciates in them and their team mates, as well as how the whole group fits together. This allows teammates to begin to recognize their need for one another and appreciate each other’s strengths. Trust will grow quickly. The team can’t help but move forward.

In my particular experience, I lost some team members who couldn’t adjust to the new culture. However, for those who bought into the vision, we created an environment where people thrived, turnover reduced, and productivity grew.

Being in service to the team no longer allows me to “use” people for my own purposes. Rather, I look for ways to add value to my teams while working toward common goals and shared success…a much more rewarding pursuit.

The Law of Buy In, along with the other 20 Laws, have made leading teams exponentially easier. I couldn’t have a better reference manual on leadership. Investigate them for yourself ,and you’ll find Laws that are applicable to everyone’s career and life. My toolbox of Laws keeps me in service to the teams I lead.

Amy Smith Montoya is a John Maxwell Team certified coach and trainer helping teams and individuals identify leadership gaps and implement plans of growth.

As an entrepreneur in the multifamily real estate management industry, Amy works with many cross-departmental teams. She has held leadership positions in both state and national industry associations, as well as consulted internationally in board and organizational development. She is a graduate of Pepperdine University.

Amy resides in both Arizona and California. For more information visit

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