An Easy Fix to a Leader’s Most Common Communication Challenge

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Leadership is all about communication.

Moving a group of people, or an entire church, to a preferred future requires the ability to leverage effective communication to stir people to action.

This is why leaders can become easily frustrated when their persuasive words don’t seem to ignite the desired change in behavior. “Surely,” a leader will say, “the power of my words should have catalyzed greater response from our people…”

But when little or no action has resulted, usually the problem doesn’t lie with the message, but with the medium. Using the appropriate platform is critical when it comes to leveraging your words for maximum impact.

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I tend to group communication media into four “buckets”, each designed to correspond with a particular level of urgency.

Bucket #1: No urgency

Use Social Communication

When stirring appropriate action is of virtually no consequence you can get away with a notice on the staff bulletin board or an “all staff email”. Most social media falls into this bucket.

Your Sunday morning announcements fall into this bucket. Never over-estimate the potential for impact from a church-wide announcement.

Bucket #2: Minor urgency

Use Impersonal Communication

When stirring appropriate action is of relatively minor importance your communication can be impersonal, such as an email or a note left on someone’s desk.

Bucket #3: Moderate urgency

Use Verbal Communication

If it’s somewhat important that you generate a particular response, up your game to verbal communication, such as a telephone call.

Note that leaving voicemail doesn’t count; that’s the same as Bucket #2 (Impersonal Communication)

Bucket #4: High urgency

Use Face-to-Face Communication

When it’s absolutely imperative that you receive an appropriate response, ALWAYS use face-to-face, one-on-one communication.

There is a time and place for each of these buckets, but the critical principle to remember is that if it’s genuine, lasting change you are looking for do not think that a memo, voice message or email equates to “mission accomplished”.

The great Canadian communication thinker Marshall McLuhan famously observed, “The medium IS the message.”

If you’ve been called to move a church to a preferred future, getting the medium right can make all the difference in the world.

Which form of communication do you use for greatest impact?


the author

Scott Cochrane


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