Yanny or Laurel – A *secret* leadership principle 4

Read Time: 3 minutes

Like many of you, I’d rest my laurels on “yanny” not being the word said in the latest video craze. But some people would disagree. They’d disagree with me three times, in fact. Which is odd because we both heard the same message – and came to widely different conclusions.

Case and point:

Teams do this every day. They have the same leader but hear different stories. So, everyone draws their own conclusions about how to act. Inevitably, this means that a team will review their goals regularly to see just how wrong everyone’s assumptions were. Not your team of course…but other teams, for sure.

The accountable leader, on the other hand, is told to improve their communication skills. A slap on the wrist.

…a repercussion for a rebuttal. Ha.

Who hasn’t seen a job description with “excellent communication skills required” written somewhere in the list of desired traits for a new hire? Do these people exist or is it just a copy-paste reaction that is supposed to accommodate a certain role? Who knows. Needless to say, we have an enunciation epidemic.

There is something we can do it about it though. We can shift the skill we lead with.

Communication is a secondary leadership trait. Not a primary one.

Let me explain. I like you, have been around accomplished “leaders” who were fantastic communicators. They were more polished than President Macron in a congressional curfuffle. But their actions sucked(pardon my French).

There was no spit to their shine.

Good communication with a bad outcome will leave a team confused and untrusting. Said enough way: Passion, that’s not linked with productivity, will have diminished returns for each and every misspoken word. You can count on it.

So what is someone in leadership to do?

The pressure to communicate meaningfully can be enormous. And without a doubt, it is important. The good news is there is a leadership trait that is better than communication…and (believe it or not) it’s better at communicating too.

It’s initiative.

Initiative trumps communication. #leadership Click to Tweet

It trumps good communication. Bad communication. Somewhere-in-betweenication.

Which is good to hear.

If you don’t feel your grammar or gabble skills are up to par, you’re in luck. People watch what you do more than what you say. Teams that are unsure of what to do will look to you to take the first step in what to do. So take the first step. It says more.

Think of it this way:

Communication is a tactic.

Initiative is an outcome.

Initiative is a line drawn in the sand. You can’t talk your way out of it.

It says more than a speech ever could about the problems, challenges (and adventures) you think a team should care for.

Taking initiative, for that matter, is much harder. You can’t hide behind a decision like you can with good diction. Which is why we have weak leaders.

I love what James, the brother of Jesus, has to say:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

James 1:22

and this:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

James 3:1

If we really want to lead well, and we really want to be accountable for good outcomes, we have to take the first step.

We are the first out of the boat. Not the first to talk about it (High five to my buddy Peter).

Take some time today to reflect on the grey areas of communication in your family, church team or work environment. What actions can you take to clear up the confusion? The benefit for you is better outcomes. The advantage to those you serve is a better understanding of what actually matters.

On other note, which word did you hear? There are, by this time, millions of different answers.

Tell me yours (and the reason why) below.

Pierce Brantley
Pierce Brantley is an author, speaker and lover of Jesus. He's married to his wife Kristie and lives in Dallas, TX. He writes on biblical studies, Christian worldviews and principles of godly living for men.

4 Comments

    1. I think you’re in the right camp! It’s funny how what we hear can vary so much from person to person.

  1. Love the article. Interpretation is everything. I think I will call in sick on Sunday. Scared people might hear Yanny or Laurel and not Jesus. LOL!

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