a little over a month ago I was sitting in my office with my Student Ministry leadership team and we were listening to a podcast by Andy Stanley. In that podcast he talked about two words that are huge for leaders… and everyone around the circle agreed that those two words make all the difference. Andy said that these two words were even more important than giving someone a paycheck. What are these two words?
Wait… WHAT? That’s it?
Yes. But those two words express HUGE leadership. Especially when they are spoken to people who are doing what they are SUPPOSED TO DO.
I’ve seen people give more, and serve longer and harder because someone took the time to say “Thank you” to them.
How would your leadership grow if you just learned the art of saying “thank you” more often?
When I was a younger leader (because 36 is still pretty young in my opinion) I remember being full of great ideas and thinking “All of my ideas are awesome… in fact, they aren’t just A way to do things… they are THE way to do things.” I would often think that senior leaders over me didn’t really know what was going on or that their ideas were old and out of touch with the future. I know… I was young and naive and I was full of ideas and idealism. I was also, though I would have never said it back then, full of pride. I never would have said it because I didn’t recognize what I was doing or feeling as pride. I just chalked it up to being full of the best ideas and being a leader. I was wrong. Here was my discovery. I learned that one little word would take my leadership and GROW IT. One little word, over time, would end up maturing me. This little two-letter word has power both when you learn how to say it… and when you learn how to hear it.
IT’S THE WORD NO!
Now, I know much has been written on the power of learning to say NO that will grow your leadership. I think that is true and important, but that isn’t what I want to talk about. I want to talk about learning to HEAR the word “NO” and accepting the word “NO.”
WHEN “NO” GROWS YOU:
Early on, the word “NO” was a shot to my ego, reputation and leadership. When I would talk about my ideas or present my idea to a senior leader and they would say “NO” or would choose to go in a different direction, I would get mad, upset, and feel like they weren’t seeing it or that they didn’t trust me. (see… pride) I would sit around with other younger leaders and talk about how my ideas were still better in hopes to gain support or rally them to my side or cause. (that proves to be damaging and divisive, by the way… and shows a real character problem.) But I slowly have learned over time that the best thing I could have ever done was to present an idea, only to hear “NO.” Why? Because it taught me that, although my idea may have been good, my ideas aren’t always what is best for everyone. (see, the attitude of “my ideas are always the best and will always be what we default to… that’s PRIDE) It taught me to hold loosely to my ideas and LISTEN to the BEST IDEAS in the room. Leadership isn’t about WHO has the BEST ideas… it’s about who HEARS the best ideas and promotes that person. It’s having enough humility to not be so insecure to think that it has to be YOUR way or NO way. Now, sometimes the leader has to step in and make an unpopular call because an idea, even if it is good, will end up hurting the organization… and I have had to do that from time to time, but BIG leadership isn’t about being a dictator. Leadership is about helping people move from point A to point B. Sometimes it’s our ideas that get them there… often times it is recognizing other’s ideas and boosting them as the best.
So when you have an idea… no matter how great it is, hold it loosely and welcome a “NO.” Fight for your idea, but at the end of the day, be open to the fact that your idea, although good, may not be what is truly BEST for your team or your organization.
It’s a LITTLE word that can have a BIG impact on our maturing leadership.