Leading in the Right Role

Before you step up to speak, before you have a developmental conversation, and before you cast vision, there’s one thing you have to do first.

You need to clearly define the purpose.

There are three important things to consider to define your purpose:

• What you want people to know. Too often a leader starts a meeting without thinking specifically about what they want to communicate.

• What you want them to feel. Emotions drive action. If people don’t feel something, they won’t move into action. We may want them to feel motivated, to feel concerned, to feel hopeful, or even to feel sad or righteously angry.

• What you want them to do. If there isn’t a desired action then there isn’t a defined purpose. For example, if you’re doing announcements at your church on the weekend, you’re not just doing announcements. You’re leading people toward the specific purpose. We don’t announce–we lead toward a purpose.

Now, what does leading in the right role have to do with this?

Think for a minute about all the specific roles you play or the hats you wear.

Here are a few of mine. I’m a dad. I’m a husband. I’m a pastor. I’m a leader. I’m a friend. I’m a mentor. I can be a counselor. I’m a fellow struggler. I’m a sinner saved by grace. I’m someone who still battles with temptation just like anybody else. I’m a Jesus-follower. These are just a few of the roles that I play.

So when I’m leading, I want to make sure the role that I play matches the purpose of the communication. Let’s say I’m promoting a class on Wednesday night for parents. I can have several different hats I wear as I cast vision for this. Let me just give you three, and you’ll see how different they feel.

Pastor: One role I could play is pastor. So I might say, “As your pastor, I believe this could be a very important spiritual step for the growth of your family. And as your pastor, I would love to see every family there on Wednesday night.”

Parent: Or I could say, “From one parent to another, how many of you would agree that raising kids is incredibly tough? Especially if we’re parenting on our own.” Now I’m talking from one parent to another. This is a different role, a different emotion, and it will lead to a different place.

Student: I could also take on the role of student and say, “I don’t know about you, but I have a lot to learn to be a better parent. That’s why my wife Amy and I will be at this event on Wednesday night. And if you have a lot to learn like we do, I’d love to see you there.”

Same conversation, three different hats. So which role creates the emotion that leads to the desired outcome?

Whether you’re announcing, leading, or meeting, plan ahead to define the purpose. Then, match your role to the desired outcome. If we don’t have a clearly defined purpose and role, we’re just wasting our time.

What we've learned:

Leadership is never one-size-fits-all. Role flexibility is a key trait for effective leaders, so the next time you’re communicating, think ahead and make sure the hat you’re wearing matches the purpose of your communication.

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