At some point or another, we’ve all had to follow a leader. Following is part of life and ministry. I’m sure sometimes we’ve followed willingly, and other times we’ve followed begrudgingly because we had to. Sometimes following was easy, and other times it was likely challenging. Sometimes those leaders were great, and other times… well, not so much. If you’re anything like me, you’ve experienced all of the above. So what would I say to someone who’s in a position of leadership? If I could craft the perfect words to communicate what I want from a leader, what would that look like?
Communicate with me.
I don’t want to oversimplify, but I’d be willing to argue that at least 75% of issues that arise in leadership are as a result of poor communication. I know you’ve got a lot on your plate. I do too. But it can save us both a lot of stress if you take the extra time to communicate with me. Tell me what’s going on. Communicate your expectations for me. Share feedback. Even if you’re not sure I would want to know, tell me anyways. Over-communicate what’s happening around us so that I can be informed too. Respect me enough to be intentional in your communication.
Help me grow.
There’s something to be said for just throwing me into the deep end and letting me swim, sure. Sometimes that’s appropriate. But don’t leave me there forever. Walk with me. Look at me as an investment. Share what you know, what you’ve figured out along the way, and what you’re learning now. Provide me with resources. Whether that’s a book or a podcast or a conference, do everything in your power to get those things to me. You’re helping me improve, and when I’m improving, you are too. We’re improving together. Your ministry will benefit from that.
If you’ve communicated well and you’re actively helping me grow, step back and give me space to get the job done. Don’t be afraid to make big asks of me. I might fail, but there’s value in that too. Nevertheless, there’s a good chance I might succeed. Either way, I need to know that you trust me, no matter the outcome. I want to work hard and do well, but I need you to have faith in my abilities and trust that I’m capable.
Fight for me.
Not everyone is going to like me. Not everyone will believe in me the way that you do. So please stand up for me. Talk well about me behind my back. Be willing to step into the line of fire if my character or my work comes under attack unnecessarily. Take that feedback and share it with me, help me learn from it, but don’t actively participate in negativity against me. Inevitably parts of those conversations make it back to me, and not only does that hurt my feelings, but that makes me feel like I can’t trust you. Be my biggest cheerleader.
Encourage me when I’m doing well, and when I’m not. When I’m having a good day, and when I’m having a bad day, when I’m knocking it out of the park, and when I’m having an off-season. Encouragement is going to fuel me forward, especially coming from you. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. Simple words of affirmation or a text every once-in-a-while are going to go a long way. The fact that you notice how I’m doing—personally and professionally—and are going out of your way to encourage me says a lot about your character and it makes me proud to be a part of your team. Don’t forget this.
I can only do so much without you. I know you’ve got expectations placed in front of you as well. Leading others is a big job. But that can’t be an excuse. Step up and lead me well. We’ll both be better for it.