In most cases, leaders possess “Word Gifts,” and lead by the use of words as they cast vision, make decisions, train additional leaders, motivate the troops and confront difficult issues and people. Here are six things leaders need to say regularly that will improve their leadership immensely:
1. Forgive Me
There is something healing and team-building about asking for forgiveness. Better to err on the side of asking rather than making excuses and conjuring up reasons that it was not really your fault. Good leaders take a little less of the credit and a little more of the blame with their teams.
2. You’re Right
Give credit where credit is due. When a team member has a good idea or a solution to a perplexing problem, publically acknowledge and affirm them. I have never met a person who felt they were encouraged too much. The rule of thumb is to praise publically and confront privately.
3. You’re Wrong
We need to function as both Jonathans (encourage) and Nathans (confront) with team members. Don’t shy away from the tough conversations. When people have sinned and are clearly out of line, be bold to tell them so in private. Don’t wimp out. Be a courageous leader and trust God to handle the results and the relationships.
4. Jesus Loves You
The phrase “Jesus loves you and so do I” has run its course and is not taken seriously anymore when uttered by a leader. It is nevertheless still true that Jesus loves us and we need to regularly remind our people of the Gospel’s central message that they are loved by Jesus Christ, and that amazing and incredible love is demonstrated by a bloody cross and an empty tomb. “What the world needs now is love” is still true for everybody; but, as the song says, “We are looking for love in all the wrong places.” A deeply-held belief that we are loved by Jesus can get us through difficult times and circumstances. When life is tough at home, in the church or in the work place, we need to return to the simple biblical fact that we are loved. Say it often and say it with sincerity.
5. Me Too
Pastors and spiritual leaders are human, like everybody else. We sin, we doubt, we struggle, we get angry, we get envious and we repent. People need to know we can identify with them, whatever they are going through. It doesn’t decrease but, rather, increases your credibility as a leader when you admit to and own your sin and folly. Better to say “me too” than “not me,” insinuating that you are a leader who is above or beyond what others are experiencing.
6. You Can Do This
People tend to underestimate what they can do and have all kinds of doubts about their ability to execute well. They need encouraging words from their leader. They need to hear that you believe in them and have confidence that they can accomplish what they have been given to do. They need to hear that Jesus will accomplish his purposes through them and that they can do all things through him as he strengthens them. (Philippians 4:13)