The Second Most Important Words in a Leader’s Arsenal

“The lobby was awesome with 5 professional Santa’s, one who looked like Chong from Cheech and Chong.  The music, stage games, Christmas Story, teaching and worship were all home runs.  It’s like you stepped up to the plate, pointed to a seat in the left field bleachers and proceeded to hit a home run to that very seat…At times I could not sing because I would have lost it.  I thank God for all of you and am so proud of you.  This was an amazing effort.  Thank you.”

I received this email from one of the leaders of our church to pass along to the rest of our Student Ministries team, and I realized how important these words are for leaders. What are the words?

Job well done.

In other words, what you did, what you put your heart and soul into, what you worked so tirelessly on? Job well done.

A few days ago, I wrote about THE most important words in a leader’s arsenal. You can find out what they are by reading here.

It’s my contention, then, that job well done are the leader’s second most important words.

When I read these words, I felt so many wonderful things. What is it about these words that provides such an incredible weapon for leaders?

1. They show you noticed. 

My son Maddox is potty training, and doing pretty well. When my parents, his Mimi and Papa, came into town over Christmas, he wanted so badly for them to see him peeing in the toilet. In fact, the first time he was ready he made both of them come into the bathroom to watch him pee.

Are we still little kids who want the leaders in our lives to notice what we’re doing? YES!

And when a leader says ‘job well done,’ it shows they noticed and they care.

2. They inspire and spur further effort.

I’ve never understood coaches who try to encourage further effort by telling someone how much they suck. There are certainly times all coaches need to kick people into gear and there are times leaders need to point out what’s wrong and could be better, but most of the time, people are inspired to further effort when their current efforts are recognized.

As leaders, when we tell someone, “You did an incredible job. Way to go.” — ultimately, the follower will want to increase effort and be inspired to greater ways.

Personally, I find it most effective to say these words to people when I pull them aside individually, write a note to just that person, or single them out in a group setting. And I also find it most effective when I point out something specific about what they’ve done. But even if we are telling a group of people ‘job well done,’ it still motivates and inspires people to more.

Two final notes: I could do this a lot more than I currently do. And, make sure you mean it when you say it. Someone can see right through your empty affirmation. It’s better to be silent than to fake it.

Who are some people in your life, whether you lead them directly or lead up to them, that you need to tell ‘job well done?’ 

Challenge: Pull someone aside this week, look them in the eye, and tell them “Way to go. You are doing an incredible job.”

Oh ya, and don’t be this guy: