The culture and direction of entire organizations, churches, ministries, and institutions is driven, in part, by whom the leader listens to. These people impact much of the leader’s decision-making, direction, and perception of reality—both challenges and opportunities. As I recently shared, wise leaders ensure they are hearing the right voices and listening to people who display humility, wisdom, and commitment.
But where should the voices come from? Where should leaders look to find the people who will speak into the direction of the organization? Where should leaders find people who will influence them? As you evaluate the voices you listen to and the feedback you elicit, consider the following four spheres of influence.
1. Those Alongside You
Those who serve alongside you have a good view of your leadership, as they interact with you frequently as peers. They may see blind spots or missed opportunities but are reticent to share as they feel they lack the authority to speak into your area or leadership. Choose someone you serve alongside, whom you deeply respect, and develop a listening posture, seeking to gain another perspective.
2. Those Above You
It is wise to ask for insight and direction from your leader, even if your leader trusts you implicitly and has delegated the decision-making to you. They often, by nature of their roles, have a broader lens from which they view your area as it relates to the whole.
3. Those You Lead
There are people on your team with keen insight into the opportunities and challenges. While the senior leader often has the breadth of insight, those on the team often have depth of insight into specific areas of the organization. To not listen to those you lead is to not lead well.
4. Those On the Outside
On hiring, John Kotter once stated that “if you want to keep the culture, hire from within. If you want to change the culture, hire from the outside.” The truth applies to more than just hiring. A strategic outsider who loves your organization/ministry and believes in the mission can provide great insight via a fresh set of eyes.
Those you listen to closely will influence you as a leader. Choose wisely.
Eric Geiger is a Vice President at Lifeway, leading the Resources Division. He has authored several books including the bestselling church leadership book, Simple Church.