Because a leader’s work is largely influencing others, a leader’s (or “his or her”) ability to relate to and to work with others is very important. No matter whose definition of leadership you use, the word ‘influence’ almost ways shows up. What does that mean? Building relationships and leadership are inseparable. What often hinders people in their leadership development is failure to develop healthy relationships.
“To lead well is to love well”.
We are created for relationships, to be in relationship with others.
Community - Human beings were never intended to live or function in isolation (Gen. 2:18). The foundation - Healthy relationships with others are built on the foundation of intimacy with God. (heart of the leader)
We know this intellectually and yet many leaders still live and work in isolation. Isolation is one of the greatest risks for a leader.
Ask audience: How do leaders become isolated? How do YOU become isolated?
Ask how they can prioritize sufficient time and energy for relationships. Have them share with a partner, in a small group, or reflectively and write down any changes they might make…
Agape love combats isolation and builds true community. Agape love - - In Matt 22:37-40, Jesus clarifies which trait of the heart should most characterize our relationship with the Lord and others. Ask yourself how deeply and consistently do you depend on the Holy Spirit’s power to love others like this. None of us can do this on our own, but when we’re truly conscious of His agape love for us, this deepens our resolve to pray that He would empower us to love likewise.
(If God leads, consider taking time to pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit.)
Ask the audience: How does true agape love look? (look up relationship passages for help) (selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love) Identify 1-2 traits that you would like to further develop. Share these and why have you chosen these traits? Pray for each other.
Ephesians 4 Philippians 2 Colossians 3 Hebrews 12: 6-8 discipline and chastise 1Thes 5:14 admonish, encourage, help Rev 3:19
Faithfully applying the gospel: confessing sin, repenting, forgiving, and pursuing restoration. None of us loves God and others perfectly, so we all need God’s grace. We sin against others when we fail to love them as God calls us to. Thankfully the power of the gospel offers hope and directs us in fully restoring broken relationships.
Discuss some of the tensions that exist between love and results. Possible answers:
Grace vs License Wanting to “love” means no feedback or accountability for results
Ministry leaders are no different in terms of their need for both mentors and friends. Every person needs at least a few relationships in which they are truly known and loved. A friend who truly knows us doesn’t require us to wear any mask, including the “ministry” mask. Deep friendships like this are so life-giving!
It is more challenging for ministry leaders to develop close peer relationships. Why do you think it’s more challenging for ministry leaders to develop close peer relationships?
Ask group or have discussion in pairs/small groups: Who are some of your close mentors and/or friends? How have you been able to cultivate relationships in which you’re less tempted to wear a “ministry” mask? What are root issues that make authentic relationships difficult?
Have people/small groups share their answers.
Possible Answers: It is common to deny our need for these close relationships. If we believe that we don’t really need close relationships, we will re-direct our relational needs into unhealthy alternatives to fill the void. Unhealthy alternatives may appear “fine” on the surface (i.e., working extra hours in ministry), but are often attempts to escape some form of pain. If this process continues, addictive behaviors or burnout can easily result.
Spiritual battle Satan easily deceives believers, especially ministry leaders, into thinking that we cannot risk the exposure of sharing our needs or problems with someone else. What are the potential consequences if we believe Satan’s lie?
(Relate to Heart of a Leader PPT/material) For a spiritual leader, every encounter with another person is an encounter with the heart of that person.
Some people believe that leadership is about having a title or position. John Maxwell in the from 360 Leader (p.5) suggests that leading by position is the lowest level of leadership. He would suggest the following levels of leadership: (see also http://www.success.com/articles/1569-john-c-maxwell-leadership-ladder)
1. Position : job title → People follow because they “have to” 2. Permission: Relationships → People follow because they “want to”; they like you 3. Production: competence → You gain credibility by modeling production
4. People Development: you help people grow→ They follow because they feel valued and developed. 5. Pinnacle: Respect → People follow because of who you are, your personal character, integrity, and influence.
Influence is relational.
Some successful leaders never have a title or position.
The following is from the Executive book summaries on the 360 Degree Leader:
The Influence Myth Those who believe the influence myth might say, “If I were on top, then people would follow me.” People who have no leadership experience have a tendency to overestimate the importance of a leadership title. You may be able to grant someone a position, but you cannot grant him or her real leadership. Influence must be earned. A position gives you a chance. It gives you the opportunity to try out your leadership. It asks people to give you the benefit of the doubt for a while. But given some time, you will earn your level of influence — for better or worse. Good leaders will gain in influence behind their stated position. Remember, a position doesn’t make a leader, but a leader can make a position.
Influence is built as we know those we lead. Ephesians 4:29 instructs us to speak words that are good for edification according to the need of the moment, [so that they] may give grace to those who hear.
In order to do this it is important that we: a) know those we lead; and b) lead them accordingly.
Ask group to identify what kinds of things they want to know about those they lead. (Could be fun interactively if you have time and space… make two lines… move to appropriate side based on two options) For example:
Are they an introvert or extrovert? “Leaper” (risk taker) or “Looker” (cautious)? Outliner (vision) or Detailer? Do they work better alone, in small groups or in a large collaborative group? Do they respond better to frank and direct communication or do I need explanations [and] discussion? Do they thrive in meetings or need as few large group meetings as possible? Planner or Do they operate best with definite rules and procedures or do they need freedom from close control? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Dreamer or Worker? Collector or Tosser? How are they best encouraged? Do they prefer thinking and dreaming for long periods of time or do they need decisions and closures?
You will not be able to accommodate every person you lead 100% of the time but: a) knowing each person well and b) leading them accordingly will increase your influence and, therefore, your leadership capacity.
There are FOUR Skills for relating to those we lead. The first is listening.
Listening and responding well are two essential skills for relating to others. Breakdowns in relationships often occur when we assume that we know what others are thinking, or saying. At some level, we can all relate to the complexity that Norman Wright has described regarding communication. One message may be interpreted in several different ways. For any message communicated, what you meant to say, what you actually said, what the other person heard, what the other person thought he or she heard, and how you interpreted their response to your original message, could possibly be misunderstood.
Bill Myers has outlined the following cycles for effective listening.
1. Attend- stop and follow the conversation; look at non-verbals, listen for emotions and content with the intent to understand 2. Acknowledge- nod, acknowledge, watch response for accuracy. Look interested! Be interested! (Ask the Lord to minister to your teammate through you) 3. Invite- encourage more information or response 4. Summarize- capture the essential points
Questions can follow once you understand what is being said. Good listening is crucial to good relationships.
If you have time, practice with a listening exercise - participants practice listening to each other while trying to focus totally on the other person’s words without being distracted. Have participants break up into pairs and take turns being the communicator and listener. Instruct each communicator to speak for about two to three minutes while their partner ONLY listens. NO QUESTIONS or INTERRUPTIONS. (Suggestion: describe their job duties to each other.)
Listening beyond words is the second of the four skills for relating to those we lead.
When listening to someone, actual words make up a small part of the communication process because the conversation also involves emotions.
Three basic levels of listening: Passive: While one person is talking, the other is thinking of his/her own experience or multitasking. He/She is hearing the words but may not be giving them full attention. A person checking my e-mail or iPhone texts while the another is talking is an example of passive listening. Active: I can paraphrase back to you what you said. Contextual: I am paying attention to everything. The words plus body language (for example, is the person speaking stiff and rigid or relaxed?), tone of voice (is the person speaking harshly or calmly?), speed of words (is the person speaking quickly or slowly?), facial expressions (does the person’s expression indicate excitement, frustration, sadness….?) The question is “What is really said beyond the words?” Contextual listening is far superior to other levels of listening but it takes time, patience, and the power of the Holy Spirit to give someone our undivided attention and listen beyond words.
Communication is complex and requires effective listening. According to Dr. Tim Irwin and Margaret Browning the top ten reasons why we don’t listen are:
(See if the group can come up with some of these…)
Being preoccupied with other things (not being fully present with someone) Being in a hurry (focusing in a task or agenda, not a person’s heart) Being judgmental (not offering our teammate the same grace we have received from the Lord) Misunderstanding the other person’s intentions (potentially not believing the best about our teammate) A lack of trust (which indicates the need to work through conflict and pursue reconciliation) Focusing on how the person’s experience applies to us (not loving our neighbors as ourselves) Thinking about the solution before we’ve really heard the problem (failing to connect with our teammate’s heart) Focusing on minor details (fearing the need to address core issues; not truly owning sin; not speaking the truth in love) Thinking about what we want to say next (not being fully present) Difficulty understanding the person’s experience because we have never “been there” (needing to depend on God’s grace to connect)
Third Skill for relating to those we lead: Responding Well. Here are ten common pitfalls in responding well (also Irwin and Browning).
(If you have time, have the group brainstorm the common pitfalls before using this list.)
1. Evaluating “That was a bad decision.” 2. Offering advice “I think you should fire him.” 3. Giving pat answers “We all have our ups and downs.” 4. Questioning their feelings “Why are you so depressed?” 5. Making premature interpretations “You’re feeling that way, because you’ve had a long day.” 6. Changing the subject “By the way, what do you think about . . .?” 7. Being impatient “Uh-huh…uh-huh….uh-huh!” 8. Scolding “you’re always complaining!” 9. Responding inadequately “Yeah.” “I understand.” Or silence. 10. Laughing/ not taking the person seriously “Oh come on. It can’t be that bad.”
Any of these sound familiar? Think about how you would feel if you were the person being responded to in this way. These pitfalls have a way of shutting people down in participation. Sometimes people are more tempted to speak than to listen. Feeling that urgency, we can forget that others are trying to communicate their thoughts as well. Our own need to talk can tempt us to quickly dismiss someone else’s idea.
When responding to others, it is important to communicate two things back to them: The content of what they are saying (their thoughts or experience) The feelings of what they are experiencing.
These responses, often referred to as listening checks, serve two purposes. They assure the other person that you have, in fact, been listening, and they confirm to you and the other person that you understand what’s being said. This is a great way to communicate love and respect. Once again, we’re reminded that the Lord gives us the capacity to love and respect others in these ways.
Fourth Skill for relating to those we lead: Giving and Receiving Feedback
As a leader we must be able to effectively give and to humbly receive feedback.
Many people shy away from giving and receiving feedback. Usually this is because they believe one of the many myths about feedback. They may believe that feedback is: 1) only negative, 2) a monologue, 3) an opportunity for a personal attack, or 4) an opportunity to criticize. Deeper, heart-related reasons may include: 1) not having many people in his life who faithfully speak the truth in love (i.e., it is foreign to him), 2) broken trust with those who are giving feedback, and 3) not feeling secure in the love and grace of our Lord.
As a group, reflect on James 3:5, 9-11 (the danger of the tongue) and Matthew 15:18. What do these passages indicate about a leader’s heart impacting his communication?
Ephesians 4:15 – According to this passage, what should characterize our speech? What is the fruit of such communication?
Possible Answers: Healthy, honest feedback is critical for personal and spiritual growth. It is a dialogue that balances the positive and negative, makes observations, and provides important, potentially unknown information.
The Bible is full of examples and scriptures about giving and receiving feedback (2 Timothy 4:2, 1 Thess. 5:11 , 1 Thess. 5:14, Proverbs 12:15, Proverbs 15:31, Proverbs 19:20, Proverbs 19:27, Proverbs 25:12, Proverbs 27:5-6 are a few) Feedback can be given formally (360 review, Position Focus Review) or informally. Research has shown that informal feedback given in the moment is the most effective feedback. When we withhold feedback we risk losing an opportunity for growth, giving back door messages, engaging in gossip, and eroding trust. Feedback is most effective when it is: FAST (Frequent, Accurate, Specific and Timely) (2) given with the proper heart motivation (speaking truth in love, desiring the best for the person receiving the feedback, given with honor, encouragement, with humility, patience, forgiveness).
Giving positive feedback is powerful for life change, sends a message that “I am for you” and builds a foundation for a safe environment. Give feedback often, but be sure to be specific and targeted in your comments. When giving feedback that may be difficult to hear, be thoughtful. Focus on behavior and actions. Be supportive and sensitive. Be clear and specific. Be balanced. Stay solution focused. Before talking to the person, plan what you are going to say, then deliver the feedback as stated above, and strive to reach an understanding.
When it comes to receiving feedback, take the initiative to seek it out. Listen carefully. Check your understanding. Think and consider before responding. Thank the giver for the gift of feedback. Reflect on how this feedback could promote your personal growth.
Quote from Mike Myatt, Chief Executive Officer, N2growth
“Have you ever wondered why some people have more influence than others? It’s because they invest more “in” others. Those with influence have built into others through some form of consistent direct or indirect contribution. Those with the greatest amount of influence almost always have the strongest relationships.”
- See more at: http://www.n2growth.com/blog/leadership-influence/#sthash.nSQtCp3e.dpuf
“Leadership is a process of influence.
Anytime you seek to influence
the thinking, behavior,
or development of people
in their personal
or professional lives,
you are taking on
the role of a leader.”
Lead Like Jesus
Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges