If you haven’t already, you’ll soon discover the fantastic power of words. Words can be used as bombs or bouquets. Which would you rather receive at your doorstep? A few words can be forged together and lobbed into the life of another to cause more havoc than a 2-year-old at a tea party. Conversely, words can be handed out like candy to a discouraged teammate. A timely “Thank you” or “I appreciate you” can do more good than a paycheck bonus. Words have the power to motivate and heal.

However, those words must be sincere. How will you know when communication is sincere? New Testament leader Paul said, “Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). Here are some diagnostic questions to test the sincerity of your communication. Ask:

• Am I being honest without being petty?
• Will these words bring hope, help or hurt?
• Will the giver and receiver be better off after this is said?
• Do these words reflect the attitude of Jesus Christ?

The ultimate test of sincerity for leaders is the ability to keep their words. Leaders who do so tap into the power of a promise—the influence gained by keeping one’s word. People are motivated by leaders who say what they mean and mean what they say. Vibrant leaders understand that once a promise is given it must be kept. Others always will be watching for that result.

Granted, that’s not always possible. Circumstances sometimes seal off the promised actions as do orange cones on a construction project. There are times when a leader simply cannot deliver on a promise that was made with good intentions. Those exceptions should be rare. In order to succeed as a leader, you must deliver on the power of a promise.

Just as words used well can empower a leader, so shady communication and see-through promises can sap a leader’s momentum. Brusque replies, exaggerated claims and half-hearted assurances are like roadside debris. They will cause a breakdown eventually. Wise leaders are thoughtful and deliberate in their use of words because they understand the power words have to hurt or heal.
Honest communication, thoughtful words and promises kept are the hallmarks of a great leader. Use words well, and they will empower your leadership for lasting results.

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