• Leaders communicate clearly

    There is nothing worse than talking to someone and you walk away not knowing what they really said or meant. It is tough listening to someone who is just not clear in their communication.

    Leaders however must be noted by their clarity of communication.

    If you hang out with a great leader you see they communicate with confidence and with clear direct words. But how do you develop this?

    I have asked leaders and studied them and it seems that they do or are the following:

    Competent in their field – The reason a leader can be clear in their communication is that they know what they are talking about. They have had years in their field and they have thought deeply about what it means to be successful in their field. So when they speak they have a wealth of knowledge backing up their words which in turn makes their communication are clear and direct.

    They are prepared – Leaders are over prepared and this helps them to clearly communicate what they want. They have prepared what they want to say, how they want to say and why they want to say it.  I once sat down with an ex CEO of a multibillion dollar company and asked him about communication and he said that before every meeting whether it be a phone meeting, board meeting or just a meeting over a beer he would write down on a piece of paper what he wants to say and he would rehearse how he wanted to say it so that the best outcomes would be brought about. It is no fluke then that he was a brilliant communicator and leader. As leaders we should be striving for this kind of preparation.

    They are direct – Leaders never want to leave the people they lead thinking “What was I meant to do?” So they are very direct in communicating what they want and what is best for the organisation they lead.  This directness takes time to prepare but when they are prepared, leaders are direct in their speech.

    They have energy – When they communicate leaders have an energy that is infectious. They use words which have energy built into them. They use phrases which push forward in a loving way. They have artful turns of phrase that inspire, energize and encourage. Do you, as a leader, use your words to inspire, energize and build up?

    They love their people- as we have seen in the last post leaders love their people. This love helps the leader shape the way they communicate to each person they talk with.

    Leaders communicate in a way that inspires the people they love. They are direct and clear because they are prepared and competent in their field.


  • Leaders connect with people on an emotional level.

    Think of a leader you would die for? Think of a leader you love? Why do you love them? Why would you die for them? Is it because they have a title or a name? Is it because of their level of skill?

    Generally not.

    See we have all met people with a title (boss, pastor, rev, CEO) who are jerks and yet we have met people with a title who we love. Also, we have all met people who have great skill and knowledge and yet we don’t like to talk to them let alone die for them!

    What is the difference between a leader who you love and leaders who you don’t really care about.

    The difference is the leaders who we love make an effort to connect with us on an emotional level.

    Do you make an effort to connect with the people you lead on an emotional level?

    How do you do that?

    Speak – you need to speak to the people you lead and let them know how much you value them. Tell them that you love them, tell them that they did a good job and be specific and enthusiastic in your praise. Don’t say “hey that was very helpful”  say “Man I loved the way you did X because of these four reasons and I found it encouraging because of Y and man I can’t wait to see you do that again. Great job! Leaders connect with words

    Understanding- we all want to be understood. But do we as leaders go out of our way to understand the people we are leading? Do we seek to ask the question “Why are they thinking this?” or “Why is this an issue for them?” before we launch into a rebuttal of their views?

    Emotional intelligence – I sat down with a woman a few days ago who interviewed a bunch of candidates for a pastoral position. I asked her what she thought of the talent coming out of the local bible college and her response was “They generally lack emotional intelligence!” Emotional intelligence is the ability to discern the where a person or a group of people are at emotionally and to tailor actions and words to the emotional climate. Young men find this extremely hard because we want to fix things and win. Emotional intelligence forces us to slow down and think but also do the hard work of communicating and caring. As leaders we need to work on our emotional intelligence. We need to empathise with the people we lead and we need to laugh and cry with them too.

    Do what you say you will do – A way of loving people is to come through on your promises. If you say you will pray for them do you pray for them? If you say you will do something by this time do you do it? Are you a person who the people you lead can say “He or she loves me because they show it in their actions.”

    Apologize – When leaders who connect screw up they apologize. Not because it is a wise tactical move but because they are genuinely sorry. Who do you have to apologize to?

    Leaders do the hard work of connecting with people. They know that leadership is all about relationships. They love their people and this comes our in everything they do.

  • Leadership boils down to three things

    I have read a lot of books on leadership in my short stay on this earth and I have been amazed at how many different things that leaders need to do or be. John Maxwell thinks there are 21 Laws of Leadership, Kouzes and Posner in the Leadership Challenge thinks there are five practices of exemplary leadership. I dunno about you I can barely remember 5 things let alone 21 and so is there a way we can boil leadership down to just the core essentials?

    I have been watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares lately and seeing learning what he does as a leader. Now some of you are thinking that Gordon Ramsay is that loud mouth pom who drops the F bomb a lot and so he is not to be taken seriously. But what I have noticed when I have been watching Kitchen Nightmares is that he is a great leader. If you have haven’t seen the show, Gordon comes into a restaurant that is usually about to close and has one week to turn it around. The selling point is the conflict but what I am seeing  is leadership.

    It seems that Gordon Ramsay does three things when he comes into a struggling kitchen and these three things are the things that I think all leaders do.

    1. Connect with people
    2. Communicate clearly
    3. Chart the course

    Over the next three days I will be blogging about these three things that all leaders do which will help me clarify my thoughts as I work on them myself.


  • Why you shouldn’t be a tough pastor

    I remember a church planter coming to check out my church. He said he liked my sermon and that he heard a sermon that morning which was so weak he wanted to “Punch the preacher in the frigging neck!” A friend of mine who looks like he could go bear hunting with a twig and come back with seven carcasses and who also does ultimate fighting for fun and fitness (!!!) was listening in on this conversation. After the church planter left I turned to my huge friend who could kill me in an instant and I said “What did you think of that pastor. He is tough eh?” And my friend quietly said “I don’t want a pastor who is going to punch guys in the neck. I want a pastor who loves his people. I don’t want a tough pastor I want a biblical Pastor who loves me.”

    When I look at the biblical qualities of a pastor (1 Timothy 3 etc.) and I look at what Jesus says should define us as Christians (i.e. John 13:35) the word tough doesn’t even get a mention.

    What should define us as pastors or Christians? I think my thickly muscled brother was right. What should define us is Love. We should be loving people. Think of Jesus and Paul, they both loved (e.g. John 15:12-13, 1 Thessalonians 2:7-11). In fact I think we can say their ministry was defined in large part by the fact the loved their people. But here is the most interesting thing, they were extremely tough. Both took beatings (Matthew 27:26, Acts 16:16-24), both were deserted (Mark 14:43-52, 2 Timothy 4:9-18) and people rejected their preaching (John 6:60-70; Acts 17:32-34).

    It seems to me that if we define ourselves by trying to love our people we will be tough.

    It seems as though love produces grit and toughness

    Whereas many pastors and other men who want to be tough lack love

    That is why I don’t want to be a tough pastor I want to be a loving pastor

    I want love to define me as it did with Jesus and Paul


  • Why almost every book on leadership sucks

    I love reading about leadership. I love thinking about how I can be a better leader. I want to know how to motivate people, how to set a clear and compelling vision etc. So I read leadership books. Not as many I used to but I still read a lot of them.

    But increasingly I have felt frustrated with the leadership books I have reads over the years and here is why:

    Leadership books have helped me think about what I am not who I am.

    If I analyse what the leadership books say I am they say that I am a leader and I need to be better at leadership. Therefore I need to work on all the skills that will make me a better leader.


    If I analyse who I am, I realise I am a person who is broken and sinful. A person who needs a great dose of humility, a person who needs to have their skills sharpened, yes. But more importantly I need my character refined.

    That is why I am frustrated with a lot of the leadership books that I have read. They don’t deal with your character. They don’t help you see how stupid it is to be a great leader in the workplace and a terrible leader at home. In fact two of my favourite books on leadership were written by men who had affairs and said that their affairs didn’t affect their ability to lead!

    Most leadership books don’t say that what our followers need are people of character

    How are you working on your character?

    How are you working on being a better person?

    Because that is what your people need you to be most,

    A better person