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Leadership in the Workplace

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Tips and Traits for Leaders



Those who are in leadership positions realize that the most important part of leading is their interaction with the people they lead. The "people equation" is the most important calculation in working with people.

The following comments adapted from numerous issues of a publication entitled "The Human Angle" are intended to provoke critical and creative thinking and planning regarding how you work with (and for) others. Scripture references were added by Ch, Lt Col (USAF, Ret.) Warren Dane the IFCA International webservant and Director of Chaplaincy.

THE FIRST STEP... Jas 1:19 dealing with anyone is to appreciate his point of view. Most of the mistakes we make in dealing with people aren't caused by ignorance - - they're caused by lack of tact. The key to being more tactful is to take more interest in other people. You can't show regard for a person's thoughts and feelings unless you know what his thoughts and feelings are. PUT YOURSELF IN HIS SHOES and take a look at the world as he sees it.

Phil 3:17; 2 Thess 3:7-9

Whatever you're trying to accomplish follow through is important. Set REASONABLE GOALS and check on progress EVERY DAY. Be methodical and systematic about it. You can't keep people interested in attaining your objectives unless you stay interested yourself.

NOTHING UP YOUR SLEEVE... 1 Cor 13:6; 2 Cor 7:14

A good leader keeps his people fully and correctly informed. People can't live in an informational vacuum. The minute there is a gap in the flow of information, rumor and speculation rush in to fill it!


When people seem bored and disinterested glance over the following check list. It may give you a clue...

  • Have you shown a keen, continued interest in their work? 2 Tim 1:3
  • Have you done all you can to relieve monotony? 2 Tim 1:1-2
  • Are you delegating responsibility and encouraging people to use their brains? 2 Tim 1:6-7
  • Have you tried dramatizing results so people can see their progress? (use of charts, graphs, tables, etc.) 1 Thess 3:2
  • Have you made a real effort to show people the importance of their job? 2 Tim 1:8-9
  • Have you kept them well informed about problems and progress? Phil 1:12


The best way to do anything is to do it right - THE FIRST TIME. Be more careful with your instructions. Double check to see if people understand you well enough. Concentrate on the positive approach. Spend more of your time seeing that things are done right in the first place.


These temperamental souls often are capable and talented! If the leader knows how to calm them down and smooth over their temperamentality, they can be valuable helpers! The one thing you obviously can't do in dealing with an excitable person is to lose your temper. The most important time, and the hardest time, to control your temper is when the other fellow has lost his. Always watch for danger signals! When the other fellow starts raising his voice lower yours. If he gets excited you STAY CALM. In dealing with hot-headed people, it pays to do a lot of listening. Let them blow off steam, cool down and reconsider. This isn't a sign of shows common sense and human understanding. Temperamental people are usually rather proud. That makes them very susceptible to praise, Use it liberally wherever you can. DON'T be dishonest, though! Praise will usually calm anger quicker than anything else.


Carrying grudges is un-Christian not to mention a sign of a little mind and a stunted personality. Don' t carry grudges and do your best to keep others from nursing grudges against you. When you've had trouble with people don't hesitate to make the first move toward apologizing. Most people are more than willing to let bygones be bygones. More often than not, he'll own up to his share of the blame.


When poor attitudes become evident, don't be too quick to blame the people who have them. You may be as responsible as they are ... If you want good attitudes, you've got to think about encouraging them EVERY DAY. Take pains to explain the things that happen (or don't happen to those who work with you. Show how their interests have been considered.


People are different. Some of thme require a lot more supervision than others. A good leader changes his tactics to fit the individual. When you deal with people who slack off, take pains to:

  • Help them to thoroughly understand their responsibility.
  • Show interest by frequently checking on their progress.
  • If they aren't fulfilling their jobs, work with them to find out.
  • When they do turn in a reasonably good performance, praise them for it.

DON'T ORDER, ASK! Col 4:6; Eph 4:29

Which do you prefer - to be ordered to do something? or, to be asked to do it? Obviously, if you are dealing with a military environment where direct orders are required you expect an order. However, in a normal working relationship, a good leader will not order people to do things, but will ask. When you ask people to do something, explain why. Assume that they are interested and intelligent. Show how the job is important. Build up the feeling of importance and satisfaction they'll get out of doing it well.


Griping is hard to take, especially when the complaints are directed at you, and the way you handle things. Nevertheless a good leader learns to take it in stride and come up smiling... Some people actually love to gripe. They feel a psychological need to criticize. It is a safety valve for letting off steam, and it!s better to let it out than have it build up inside. The best way to handle gripes is simply to listen patiently and attentively. Sometimes that's all that's necessary... the griper really doesn't want action; all they want is to get something off their chest. Be receptive and appreciative. Being a good leader takes a rugged constitution. One comes face to face with some pretty discouraging facts about human nature. You can waste a lot of time fuming about these but it doesn't help a bit. Learn to allow for these things, and don't discourage easily.

A CHEERFUL ATTITUDE... 1 Thess 5:16; 1 Cor 13:6

Sure you've got problems.. .big ones, too. But why let them turn you into a sour-puss? A smile relaxes you and the people you're dealing with. A smile is contagious. It makes things go easier and faster.


Nobody ever proved anything in an argument except that he was just as bullheaded as his opponent. You can't convince a man against his will and it's foolish to try. The formula for avoiding arguments is don't!

Jas 1:19; 3:2; Prov 13:3

Give the other fellow the first chance to express his ideas.

  • Show him that you understand his point of view
  • Stress the points on which you agree
  • Then point out where you can't agree

If you can't agree with him and it's obvious that he's not going to agree with you.
Arguing will only make things worse.


Breathes there a man with soul so dead that he doesn't yearn for a word of praise thanks and appreciation? Most of us like to know that we're doing something useful and worth-while--that our work is of real value. People like to be recognized as individuals, not just as efficient cogs in a machine. Let's make everyday a payday in these ways.


What about the authority of the people who work with you? When one has delegated responsibility for some operation, are you careful to respect his authority in that area? or do you just ignore it when you find it more convenient to do so? When you delegate authority, you have an obligation to respect it. Otherwise it's just a SHAM. When you've put a man in charge of something, work through him - not around him. Don't undermine his authority by giving orders direct. Don 't let people ignore him. Make sure they consult him first before appealing to you. This approach is one of the best possible ways to build morale, increase interest in the work, and develop real teamwork. DON'T RUB IT IN... When somebody makes a mistake, it has to be brought to his attention. He must understand how it happened, what he did wrong, and how to prevent a simple mistake from happening again. But their's no point in rubbing it in. The constructive thing is to handle yourself in a way that is most likely to bring better results in the future.


It's the leaders job to see that things are done right. BUT you can't get top-notch work just by pointing out people's mistakes. You have to encourage them. To avoid discouraging people never criticize too many things at once. REMEMBER anyone who has done his best deserves praise! Praise the good, then point out WHAT he can do to make it even better. Think! Is your criticism important enough to demand attention? Is now the best time to bring it up? IF NOT, SWALLOW it! If you want someone to do things a little differently next time, you don't have to tell him immediately.

RIGHT TO DIFFER... Phil 2:3-4

Do you respect the right of the fellow who works with you to have an opinion of his own? A smart leader always does. Most people with an ounce of brains and courage feel they have a right to an opinion of their own. They don't appreciate having their thinking ignored. That's why good leaders use phrases like these: "I may be wrong, but...

  • isn't it possible that..."
  • don't you think that..."
  • another way to look at it..."

Even when they're sure they're right, they leave plenty of room for other people's opinions, too. This kind of language makes people more willing to listen, less quick to bristle. It's best to get the other fellows opinion first. If you know in advance just where he stands, it is a lot easier to present your own opinion tactfully and effectively.

BETTER WORK... Phil 2:3-4

If you want better work, these are the attitudes that produce it. Cultivate them!

  • They are interested in their work and think it is important
  • They think of themselves as individuals who are making a real contribution, not as tools being used by someone else
  • They take pride in themselves and their work

It's hard for people to get enthusiastic when they don't know what they are doing or why. Show than how their job fits into the over-all picture. Take an interest in them as individuals, talk to them about their work, their progress, and their personal problems. Do everything you can to make them feel important as individuals.

STAY OUT IN FRONT... 2 Thess 3:6-9

A real leader doesn't ask other people to do things he is reluctant or unwilling to do himself. If a job is particularly objectionable he assumes personal direction and lends a hand where he can.

THE WITCH HUNT... 2 Cor 2:5-8; Mat 6:14-15

When something goes wrong, the first thing some people think of is "who is to blame?" The witch hunt begins inmediately. When mistakes occur there is nothing to be gained by blaming anyone. The important thing is:

  • How did it happen?
  • How can we keep it from happening again?

If you want a person to recognize and admit his errors, start by confessing your own. Take as much responsibility as you can for whatever it is that has gone wrong. If you pick up part of the burden, it makes it a lot easier for the other fellow to do likewise.


People want their efforts to be noticed and appreciated. When a person has done a good piece of work, important or unimportant, he likes to hear a word of thanks which is really sincere.


Getting along smoothly with other people takes foresight. It's easier to foresee difficulties and avoid them than it is to settle them after they have arisen. BEFORE TAKING ACTION, consult those likely to be affected.

INITIATIVE... 2 Tim 2:1-5

Initiative can be developed: Try these

  • Share responsibility with the people you work with
  • Train them to handle everything they are capable of
  • Welcome suggestions and congratulate people for trying to use their heads
  • When things work out well pass praise and credit along

Remember, the fear of being second-guessed.. .of taking the initiative and then being criticized for being wrong... is the greatest initiative killer of all.


If you'd like to make more good decisions, and fewer bad ones, here's a simple rule which will help you do it:

Take a second look, cold sober. It always pays.


A proposal to change things immediately arouses fear of the unknown and unfamiliar. Even when you know your ideas will work, don't rush things. Make changes slowly. No matter how good your plan, it will work better if people have had a chance to adjust their thinking, make suggestions, and get rid of some or their fears and objections.


In trying to keep people satisfied, beware of building FALSE HOPES. The person who hasn't been expecting a raise in pay will be pleased with even a small increase The person who had been confidently expecting a big increase will be disappointed. If you have to disappoint someone it's far better to make him face the facts immediately. . .. Be reliable! Don't say you can do something unless you definitely can. Which kind of person would you rather work for or have working for you...

  • Someone whose performance is invariably as good or better than his word? or
  • Someone who is quick to promise a lot but frequently fails to deliver?


Keep a list of the jobs ahead of you. If your list begins to get hopelessly big, let's face it, you ought to...

  • Speed up your decisions, or
  • Delegate more authority to others