I recently read a great little book on evangelism by TEDxUniversityofNevada 2014 speaker Harvey Turner. I was struck by the similarities between effective evangelism and effective leadership, something I had not expected.
Paraphrasing Harvey, evangelism simply means “applying good news to people’s lives.” The best leaders do something similar on a daily basis with the people they’ve been given the privilege to lead. Good news that indicates progress, supports the work we do, or supports the people doing the work acts as a catalyst to enhance positive inner work life. Leaders change how people think and behave at work by showing them “together, we can make this a better place to work for everyone.” That’s good news indeed!
Harvey offers three suggestions for effective evangelism that I believe are also foundational principles of effective leadership:
- Prepare yourself
- Be yourself
- Forget yourself
To prepare yourself means you must build and maintain a reputation for mastering the domain of your profession. We simply don’t trust people who don’t know what they are talking about or don’t fully understand the work we do.
To be yourself means others believe you are authentic. To earn a reputation for authenticity in the eyes of those you lead, you have to do the following:
- Seek feedback to improve your interactions with others
- Accurately describe how others view you (don’t try to hide your weaknesses or exaggerate your strengths)
- Say exactly what you mean
- Admit mistakes when they are made
- State your core beliefs, then make decisions and take action consistent with those beliefs
- Solicit views that challenge your deeply held positions
- Listen carefully to different points of view before coming to conclusions
To forget yourself means to be purposeful rather than egocentric. Purpose is the currency of leadership because purpose lives in the hearts and minds of those who serve the purpose. See yourself as a resource, not “the source”. Purposeful leadership liberates others by enabling them to find meaning and full responsibility in their roles. If you insist on trying to be an oracle of leadership, your folks will never reach their full potential, which means you will never reach your full potential and your organization will be mired in mediocrity.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!