Thursday, June 03, 2004

The Leader's Echo

When you listen close you can hear the echo.

I’m hearing it a lot more often these days and in a lot more places. Sometimes it’s an inspiring echo that reminds me of ‘why’ I serve among Teenagers. Other times I hear it from my beautiful wife as she reminds me why we’ve made certain family and business decisions. And sometimes it’s in beautiful words of love and laughter shared between my kids.

I hear it sometimes at the dinner table and sometimes at the conference table. Sometimes on the ball field or on the drive to school in the morning. I even hear it through email from distant places like Brazil and Poland where I’ve traveled.

And, then, there are the haunting echoes of angry conversations and hard words spoken in mean ways that bounce around the canyon walls of my life for a long, long time.

It’s the ‘Leader’s Echo’ and all of us lead something. We are leaders of families, little league teams, work teams, businesses, people, churches, governments...chances are that you wear several leadership hats. The more hats, the more echoes. The more people you lead the more exciting the echo can be.

My words and your words have a life of their own and they echo and bounce and when they come back to us we realize this at a very deep level. I’m learning more than ever that as a leader that I’ve got to ‘watch my mouth’ because as the writer of the book of James in the Bible says…’behold what a great fire the tongue starts’. The fires that leaders start ought to bring heat and light and inspiration for the team they lead.

Sadly, sometimes the fires my tongue starts are damaging – the equivalent of ‘verbal arson’. When the echo comes back I can always tell if the words were good or bad.

Here’s a few realities about the ‘Leader’s Echo’ …
1. Your words get multiplied by the team you lead
2. Your words get bounced around in the heads of those you lead
3. Your words come back to you for better or for worse
4. Your words can reverberate through the canyons of time for a very long time
5. You will one day hear your words come back to you – choose them wisely
6. Your words will feed your team or your words will tear your team apart

So, leader, choose your words wisely. Choose to use them to build your team and to feed your team. Choose them to convey love and compassion and concern and mercy. Choose them to help people grow. Choose them so that one day when they come back it will be a sweet sound in your ears, because they will come back.

Listen close. Can you hear it? It’s the ‘leader’s echo.’

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