Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?
Do your employees feel that your opinion of them is the only thing that matters?
You don’t want this dynamic. It won’t draw out the very best from your people.
What will build their energy and draw out their best?
When your opinion of your employees’ performance matters less to them than God’s opinion. When they work not only for you, but also for God. People who look beyond their Earthly leaders and work for God as well, are better positioned to fulfill their God-given potential.
Think about it.
Are you a conduit to provide your people a clear line of site to Jesus in their work? The bar gets raised. People begin feeling and responding to not only your expectations but to God’s as well.
This is the dynamic you want in your workplace. Direct reporting relationships between each of your employees and the Lord. The energy level will be off the charts.
Here are steps for driving that kind of energy, even in workplaces where you can’t talk about your faith:
Lay the foundation for divine reporting relationships.
What does it mean for your employees to report to God? Does it mean they pray at team meetings? Or lean on scripture to guide their projects?
It can mean those things. It’s truly awesome when it does. But it doesn’t have to.
Your job is to help your people feel the love God has for them, so that they can begin to turn toward the source of that love and be fueled by it. This is how you lay the foundation for divine reporting relationships.
You can help people feel God’s love in countless ways, through saying things like:
- “You have tremendous gifts that will make this organization and the world a better place. My job is to help you get as many opportunities as you want to put those gifts to use.”
- “There is no limit to the positive impact you can make on this company and in this world. I view my role as facilitating your impact.”
- “I am in awe of your talents and skills. You have a specific role to play in growing this company and expanding our purpose to the world. There are no limits to what you can achieve.”
Help your employees feel a connection between the work they do and their impact on the world – your organization’s purpose. Expand their perception of their worth. Demonstrate your appreciation for them.
You’re lifting people toward God. Your end goal is to serve as your employees’ coach, with Jesus serving as their ultimate leader.
Some of your employees are ripe and ready for this dynamic; for you to be their coach while they run toward excellence in the eyes of God. They only need you to provide them with meaningful responsibilities through which they can learn, grow, and thrive.
But other of your employees need more from you before they’re ready for your relationship to be purely a coaching relationship. They may need skill-based training or interpersonal guidance. Or, they may need your support to overcome their own self-doubt.
Dig in and properly assess. Investigate the barriers that are holding each employee back from being in control of their own work and their unique walk toward excellence. Lead them accordingly.
Establish boundaries that support – instead of hold back — development.
You’ve assessed your employees’ readiness to walk (or run!) toward their God-given potential. Your next step is to set boundaries to support their journey. Boundaries create a safe space; a solid foundation from which people can catapult forward and work within.
Set boundaries that move people forward by using words like:
- “I give you the authority to…”
- “You have my blessing to make decisions about…”
- “I trust you 100% to make the final call on…”
When people hear these words, they feel liberated to think, act, and react on their own. They feel empowered to stop looking to you for every answer, and take steps to become more self-reliant.
Taking steps to become more self-reliant often leads to self-reflection. Self-reflection often opens the door for God to make His presence known.
In my experience, setting boundaries not only can facilitate this process – it often does. That’s why I advocate so strongly for assessment, boundary setting, and putting people “in control of the goal.” God can show up when you step out of the way!
Encourage, encourage, encourage.
You’ve forged each employee’s development track. You’ve taken steps to broaden their perception of what is possible. Now your job is to encourage their growth every single step of the way. In my opinion, encouraging your people is the most important thing you can do as their leader.
Let them know you have noticed the great work they are doing, and provide them insight into the impact of their work.
Let people learn and grow.
Following these steps will help your people draw closer to God. They will have seen God’s love for them through the leadership you have provided.
Every leader I know – including me – undergoes a continuous learning curve as they shift into servant leadership. If you’re like the rest of us, the steepest part of your learning curve will be letting go of control and letting your people stumble, learn, and grow from their mistakes.
Development cannot happen without a few mistakes along the way.
If people never take a wrong turn, they are never inspired to ask for support from God.
Putting your people in control – while not always easy or natural — facilitates a reporting relationship with God. Servant leadership at its finest!
His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21