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:


The Most Important Words In A Leader’s Arsenal



Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Recently, we completed one of the most memorable events in the history of our student ministry. You can read more about that by clicking here.

The very next morning, I woke up early, drank my coffee, and thought about how awesome I was in life and at my job. I made sure everyone knew who got all the credit (ME!) and everyone who put in all the work to make it happen were just “doing their job.”

NO! I did NOT do that. Why? Because I know, from the core of my being, that nights like that are not POSSIBLE without the work of hundreds of people making it happen. I know, from the core of my being, that it takes an army, a village, a team (insert whatever metaphor you want) to make it happen.

Because I know how true this is, I arrived at our team meeting place an hour before we started so I can send off “Thank You’s” to every person I could think of who had a hand in helping make this so memorable. 

Why are ‘thank yous’ the most important words in a leader’s arsenal? 

1. They keep you humble.

Sometimes, when you’re the leader, you can start to feel like you’re the most important person next to Jesus himself. In reality, great leaders recognize their need and real dependence on others to make dreams become a reality. When you actively thank others, it reminds you as the leader that you truly could not have done ______ without the help of so many people.

2. They inspire others. 

Every time I thank someone, I remind them of all the ways THEIR work helped achieve a greater story/experience/event for others. If we saw 1800 students come through our doors and 55 students make a first time decision to follow Jesus, then whoever I’m thanking needs to know that I genuinely believe this is a direct result of their work and efforts. And when a leader writes this to others, it better not be forced or fabricated; it better be genuine, because if you don’t believe the work of a facilities team member, the design of a creative team member, the prayers of your senior ministry didn’t contribute to the overall success, you are living in a fantasy land. 

3. They build camaraderie. 

By thanking people who work for you, with you, above you, below you, forced or voluntarily, you will experience a greater amount of camaraderie and team unity. Thanking others lets them know they are a real and valuable member of the team.

Thankfully, I have had several leaders who’ve led me and modeled this so well. Personally, I don’t always take the time to thank people and I don’t always say it genuinely, but when I do, it becomes the most important words in my arsenal. 

Who do you need to say ‘thank you’ to today?