Connecting Increases Your Influence

In February, King’s Grant is taking a bold step toward developing leaders and securing potential leaders. For three consecutive Wednesday evenings at 6:00, beginning February 2, I will have the opportunity to guide the student and adult leadership in the art and science of connecting with other people. As a text, I will use John Maxwell’s book called, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People do Differently.

Connecting Can Make You or Break You: People cannot succeed in life without communicating effectively. It is not just about working harder. It’s not enough to just do a great job, to be successful you need to learn how to really communicate with others.

Connecting is the Key: Good communication and leadership is all about connecting. If you connect with others, you will have stronger relationships, improved community, increased teamwork, increased influence and your effectiveness will grow.

Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.

Connecting is Critical for Leaders: The best leaders are always the best connectors. The Harvard Business Review stated that the number one criteria for advancement and promotion for professionals is the ability to communicate effectively.

Presidential historian Robert Dallek says there are five qualities that enable them to achieve things that others don’t: vision, pragmatism, consensus building, charisma and trustworthiness. Four of these are related to the ability to communicate on multiple levels.

  1. Vision is the ability to describe what they are doing.
  2. Consensus is the ability to persuade others to come along with them.
  3. Charisma is the ability to connect on a personal level.
  4. Trust is the ability to demonstrate credibility, doing what they say they will do.

The Courage to Change: Reinhold Nieburh is famous for making popular the Serenity Prayer; “God grant me the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

  1. There are things that we can change, but often don’t know how to change.
  2. Often our coping skills are greater than our connecting skills.
  3. We need to make a difference, not just know how to make a difference.
  4. We need courage to change things rather than simply accept the status quo.

It Starts with Your Attitude: The ability to connect with others begins with understanding the value of people.

High Achievers:

  1. Care about people as well as profits.
  2. View subordinates optimistically.
  3. Seek advice from those under them.
  4. Listen well to others.

Average Achievers:

  1. Concentrate on production.
  2. Focus more on their own status.
  3. Are reluctant to seek advice from those under them.
  4. Listen only to superiors.

Low Achievers:

  1. Are preoccupied with their own security.
  2. Show a basic distrust of subordinates.
  3. Don’t seek advice.
  4. Avoid communication and rely on policy manuals.

To Be Effective, We Must Connect: We can always learn to get better at what we do, and to do this we must connect better.

Principles of Connecting:

  1. Focus on others.
  2. Expand your connecting vocabulary beyond just words.
  3. Develop your energy for connecting.
  4. Gain insight on how great communicators connected.

Practical Skills of Connection:

  1. Finding common ground.
  2. Making your communication simple.
  3. Capturing the interest of people.
  4. Inspiring people.
  5. Being authentic.

Connecting Principle – Connecting increases your influence in every situation.
Key Concept – The smaller the group, the more important it is to connect.

Practical Steps:

  1. Talk more about other people and less about yourself.
  2. Look for ways to be of service to others.
  3. Look for ways to compliment others.
  4. Look for ways to add value to others.
  5. Don’t take credit when the group succeeds; don’t cast blame when it doesn’t.
  6. Find ways to celebrate together.

Let others know that your time with them is your highest priority that day.

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Leaders are Encouragers

I received word today that our new Director of Children’s Ministries went to visit a newborn and her family, taking a gift and making a timely visit to the whole family. I am reminded of the ministry of the church, to be involved in the lives of others; that’s called fellowship. There are days and weeks where we all have so much on our plates, and these types of opportunities for encouragement often fall through the cracks.

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. (Philippians 2:1, 2)

John Maxwell once wrote that there is a difference between being a leader and being a manager. He often points out that management focuses on maintaining systems and processes, while leadership is about “influencing people to follow.” One way to cultivate such influence is quite simple: Influence involves sincerely caring about other people.

I sent hand written notes to two men who just returned from military deployments. Last week I was able to send an e-mail to someone at work who was having a birthday. Can you send a card at an appropriate time? A kind word can mean a lot. If somebody is struggling with an issue (or with life in general), simply sitting and listening can be worth more than any words that may come to mind. And don’t forget prayer, for “the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16).

Encouragement isn’t just for those who know Christ; all people need to hear positive words, especially the words that tell of One who died for us so that we can have eternal life. Let’s strive to be an encouragement to all we come in contact with daily. How will you influence someone else today?

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How to Build and Maintain Integrity

This week I was thinking about Craig’s comments about the honor code at the medical college and it made me consider the quality of integrity. People always talk about it but we can’t always get a handle on just what it is. John Maxwell has some wise words on the topic:

Integrity is important in building relationships: It is the foundation upon which success is built, along with respect, dignity and trust. If integrity is weak, success is impossible. I believe integrity is about the small things, often when no one is watching. Sort of like king David talking about the kind of shepherd he was when no one was looking (1 Samuel 17:34-37). We would not even have this story had David not revealed it! He was alone, and his true character was shining. It might have been too easy to say, “It’s only one sheep, why risk my life over one stinkin’ sheep?” David had integrity.

Consider these thoughts on integrity:

  1. Integrity is not determined by circumstance: like your household or your upbringing. Circumstances are as responsible for your character as a mirror is for your looks… who you see only reflects who you are.
  2. Integrity is not based on credentials: some people want to be judged not on who they really are but on some status they have achieved. These guys want to lead out of their credentials rather than the strength of their character. No title, degree, award or license can be a substitute for one’s character.
  3. Integrity is not to be confused with reputation: Solomon once said that a good name is more desirable than great riches (Proverbs 22:1). D. L Moody once said that if I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself. We will struggle with maintaining our integrity if we do all the right things from the outside (without a changed inner strength).

Questions to help measure your integrity:

  1. How well do I treat people if I gain nothing?
  2. Am I transparent to others?
  3. Do I role-play based on the person I’m with?
  4. Am I the same person in the spotlight as I am when I’m alone?
  5. Do I quickly admit to wrongdoing without being forced to do so?
  6. Do I put people ahead of my personal agenda?
  7. Do I have an unchanging standard for moral decisions, or do circumstances determine my choices?
  8. Do I make difficult decisions, even when they have a personal cost attached to them?
  9. When I have something to say about people, do I talk to them or about them?
  10. Am I accountable to at least one other person for what I think, say or do?

Do what you should before you do what you want: Zig Ziglar once said, “When you do the things you have to do when you have to do them, the day will come when you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them.” If you know what you stand for and act accordingly, people will trust you! Great advice from a visionary leader.

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