Let’s talk about… COMMUNICATION! Now, I know I am a woman, and the stereotype about women is we like to talk, but fair warning, this is not a post about talking and filling up dead space with words. Although I love a good conversation, don’t get me wrong, let’s discuss what it truly means to lead through communication.

Growing up, I was raised in a family that had a very tough time communicating. I watched my parents struggle to understand each other, and some of the reasons why the “struggle was real” were because of their lack of understanding of one another, their inability to listen, and their words/promises not matching up to their actions. Thankfully, my parents (and myself) have learned and grown a lot over the years, but their relationship did end in divorce.

I’ve seen friendships deteriorate based off of bad communication. I’ve seen ministry leaders offend others even with the best intentions in mind. I’ve experienced my own sticky situations, because of my failure to communicate well with others.

you see, communication is key to leading others well and encouraging growth in the right direction.

When done ineffectively, it can break a situation, friendship, decision, and the potential of a person. On the bright side, when done right, it can MAKE a situation, friendship, decision, and the potential of a person. I’m a glass half-full person, so let’s strive for the positive! If you ever want to influence people and guide them to their God-potential, you need to strengthen your communication skills.

The truth is, you might not fall into a “communication” role or category, but leaders are always communicating something. Whatever comes out of your mouth should have purpose and should be life-giving. When your words hit the atmosphere, they should be like a breath of fresh air. I’m even convicted by that!

Communication is critical, but it is also Biblical. Check out these few passages that speak to communication:

Proverbs 18:2 unfolds, “a fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

Colossians 4:6 speaks, “let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

Proverbs 15:2 tells us, “the tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.” I don’t want to belch in general, nonetheless belch foolishness!

The Bible is littered with scriptures that teach us that our words, and the delivery of our words, matter.

jesus, our number one example of how we should live our lives, communicated with clarity, understanding, and truth, and he communicated his message well with all kinds of people.

The way Jesus interacted with the crowds was different than his one-on-ones. The way Jesus communicated with the religious leaders was different than how he spoke with his disciples. The way Jesus spoke with a Roman officer was different from the woman caught in adultery. He always had the same message and same truth, but not always the same delivery. Jesus never sacrificed truth while communicating.

God created us differently, which means we receive and decode communication differently. To be a great leader, we continually need to learn how to shape our language, words, tone, non- verbals, etc., to reach people with truth, love, encouragement, and correction to take them higher on their journey.

nine communication steps for leaders to practice

Genuine Care. I think Aretha Franklin had it right. If you want people to care, listen and receive what you have to say, there needs to be R-E-S-P-E-C-T. But, here’s the thing. As a leader, you need to initiate that respect first. You need to care! If you are not willing to care about the needs of those you are leading, they are not going to be open to what you have to say.

Listen Up. The best communicators actually listen more than they speak! I know, crazy right? Some people get so focused on sharing their own opinion, they forget to hear the other party’s concern or perspective. People will only listen to someone who they know will listen to them.

Transparency. No one wants a fake leader and, quite frankly, people can see right through it. It’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay not to know everything. When you can level with others, and be honest about yourself and the matter at hand, you open the door for progress. It’s your humanness that connects people to you. It’s your godliness that inspires them to grow to another level.

Your Words. It’s not productive if you deliver a speech well, but your words and content don’t make sense. Speak with clarity and use the wisdom that God gives you. Speak with purpose and focus. When you communicate, there should be a reason why, right? Keep the main thing, the main thing. Guide people in the right direction. What you say, matters.

Your Non-Verbals. In the same regard, you can have a killer speech and, if your delivery stinks, that will effect the way people receive your message. Your non-verbals need to match up with those words that actually come out of your mouth. Non-verbals are silent messages. Make sure you are sending the right ones. If you’re trying to inspire me, please don’t have your arms crossed and speak in a monotone voice. Get me excited about what you’re excited about! Or don’t say, “Gina, tell me about your recent job promotion,” and then look off into outer space. Geez, thanks for caring. Shouldn’t you be giving me a high-five instead of looking at your phone? Non-verbals: eye-contact, posture, paying attention to someone, smiling, etc., all confirm what you are speaking.

Timing Counts. Ever have a “bad timing” moment in life? I can think of a few for myself. Let’s be real, it was never good timing for me to tell my mom about my speeding tickets. We need to be wise when it comes to choosing the moments we communicate. If you find out that someone on your team just lost a loved one, that’s probably not the time to let them know you put them on schedule every Sunday for the next month. Sometimes, we need to be wise and take people’s life situations into consideration. When you say something, is just as important as what you are saying.

Intentional Delivery. When you learn how others receive communication, you can deliver what you want to say the right way. What works for me, might not work for you. What works for one co-worker, might not be received well by another. What goes over well with one family member, might be seen differently be another. See how that works? Learn the people you are communicating with, and, by doing so, what you have to say will be heard much better

Call Out The Best. Leaders bring healthy correction by healthy communication. If you are willing to correct someone, make sure you can call out the best in them. If you are willing to call out the best in someone, be willing to correct them. You don’t have to water down correction, if you come from the right heart and communicate the right way. Many people ONLY like to point out the negative. My pastor always says, “don’t accept criticism or correction from those who are never willing to encourage you.” I couldn’t agree more. That’s good leadership.

Never Stop Learning. Can’t stop, won’t stop! If you want to be a great leader, continually push the limits on what you learn and put into practice. Read a communication book, take a few courses, get feedback from people you trust. Never stop learning.

Whether you’re on the job, having coffee with a friend, talking with your parents, serving at church, overseeing ministries or a huge company, raising your kids, leading a community group or a staff meeting (the list could go on), remember, you are a leader! Communicate well. Lead well.