Jesus on Leading: Listening 2: Be an Advocate

Beginning with an earlier post about Authentic Leadership, or Taking our Cues on Leading from Jesus, I am doing a series of posts about some of the heart qualities of leadership that Jesus exhibited and exhorted us to. 

Today’s post is part two on Listening.

Vision and Mission are buzz words today.  Whether it’s a company or business, a ministry, a church, a family or a person, vision and mission are essential guides.

Rosa at “Lifehack” defines them this way:  Your mission is what you do best every day, and your vision is what the future looks like because you do that mission so exceedingly well.

One of a leader’s main responsibilities is to ensure that vision and mission are known, understood and pursued—relentlessly.

A leader has another great responsibility:  to be a good steward of the people who keep the vision and do the mission.  Sometimes this brings conflict.  What seems best to accomplish the vision and mission may not be what seems best for the people who must do the work.Which brings me to LISTENING.  I believe one of the most important responsibilities I have as a leader is to listen to the people and to be an ADVOCATE for them.

As a company or ministry pursues the desired outcomes, as major decisions are made, as needed changes are identified and implemented, leaders must keep in mind—and ask—questions like these:

*What are the facts?  Why is this action needed?  What benefits will come from this—for the organization, for reaching vision and mission, for the people affected.

*What impact does this decision have on our people?  What are they thinking, and what are they feeling?  Will this improve their ability to contribute to our mission, or will it make life harder on them?Then, as leaders gather both head and heart realities about the needed actions and the possible repercussions for staff, their listening role should lead to advocacy.  The leader must consider questions like these:

*How do we frame this decision to positively reflect both the needs and the benefits?

*How do we include our people in this conversation?  What concerns do they have—real and imagined?  If we take a survey, will we actually pay attention to the needs, questions, desires, fears expressed in the answers given?

*Are there staff who could be part of the team to implement this decision?

This is not an exhaustive list, but just a few beginning thoughts.  There are professionals who can provide much more and better guidance on this.

My point is this:  Human resources are our most valuable resources.  Our people matter, and so their perceptions, feelings and needs matter.

Jesus demonstrated this tension and His response repeatedly.  Task and people are not exclusive—both can be priority.

Jesus always knew where He was going.  His vision and mission kept him steadfastly moving toward the Cross and our reconciliation to God.  But He always cared about the people along the way.  He listened.  And He was an advocate—He spoke up on their behalf.

So if a leader will take his or her cues on leading from our Lord, listening to people becomes a high priority.  And good listening will lead to strong advocacy for the people we serve.

What about you?  Are you listening?

C2013 Judy Douglass

Related posts:

Listening 1: 10 Questions I Love to Ask

Jesus on Leading: Wise Steward