Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in the concept of leadership that we begin to mystify it. It’s very easy to think that developing leadership skills is for somebody else. But in reality, each of us uses the tools of leadership every day. The things that make better leaders also make better husbands, wives, parents, co-workers, students or citizens. More importantly, the things that make better leaders also make us better Christians and church members.
Topping the list of leadership skills that everybody needs to master is communication. Anybody that has been married more than five minutes understands the importance of communication. Parents understand the importance of communication. Leaders need to understand communication as well.
There are four keys to mastering clear communication. Today we’re going to look at the first two, which are from the perspective of the communicator. Later this week, we will look at it from the perspective of the receiver.
Be the right kind of sender
It’s easy to blame others when we can’t seem to get our message across. As a leader, you can never start there. Good leaders always need to start with a self-assessment.
- Are you prayed up before you attempt to
Before we talk to others about the direction we feel that God is leading us to go, it’s a good idea to talk to Him about it.
- Are you prepared to communicate?
“Winging it” rarely engenders the confidence of a listener—and if you think they can’t tell you’re not prepared, you’re wrong. If you don’t really know what you’re going to say before you say it, it’s probably a good idea to keep your mouth shut. You need to figure it out before you ask your listeners to.
- Are you burdened with your message?
Many of the biblical prophets introduced their messages with, “The burden of the Lord for….” We communicate all kinds of things with varying levels of importance. But the crucial messages of leadership need to be communicated out of a clear sense of calling. You can tell when a salesman cares little about the product he is pitching. In the same way, people can see right through a leader who doesn’t have a burden for the message he’s communicating.
- Do you have credibility?
There is an inherent amount of gravitas with a person who has “been there, done that”. But understand that personal experience doesn’t necessarily equate to credibility. Faithfulness to Scripture builds credibility. Consistency builds credibility. Humility builds credibility. Coming alongside those you’re communicating to and living life with them builds credibility. Credibility is earned over the long haul.
Have the right message
To be a good communicator, your message must be worth communicating. You can be smooth and entertaining in front of an audience, but a good performance rarely equates to clear communication. The difference is the message.
- Is your message clear?
One of the difficulties of leadership is remembering how far ahead of your people you are. If you are as prepared as you should be, you have a crystal clear understanding of your message. But in order to make it clear to your listeners, you need to remember that they aren’t there yet. Make your message clear by starting at the beginning. Repeat often. Use illustrations. Repeat often. Clearly define your terms. Repeat often.
- Is your message specific?
Make sure you are talking to the audience who is in front of you. Continually referring to the ubiquitous “they” separates your listeners from the message instead of drawing them in. This message is for you. It speaks into your life. Show them specific ways that it does.
- Is your message purposeful?
Tell your listeners what the point is. If they don’t understand what the point is, they won’t have any need to invest in responding. Whether through the internet, books, television or talk radio, people are inundated with words. Let them know that your words have a purpose for their lives.
- Is your message meaningful?
A NASA engineer briefing can be clear, specific and have a very important purpose. But since I’m not involved in the space program, it wouldn’t be meaningful to me—at all. That’s one of the wonders of communicating the Gospel to people—it is the most meaningful message in the world.
Communication is a two-way street. In the next post we will look at the final two keys to clear communication—from the receiver’s perspective.