Raising the level of your leadership

You Want To Do What?

nehemiahHave a crazy idea that the boss (or king or CEO or Senior Pastor or….) will have to approve? Nehemiah is a good example to follow.

The following passage is an excerpt from chapter 5 of 16 Stones. Order info at 16 Stones Order Info]

Getting to YES is a long-term, best-selling book (more than 10 million copies in more than thirty languages) first published in 1981 . The subtitle is Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. In spite of the subtitle, this useful book is actually intended to lead to what we today call “win-win” outcomes. As Nehemiah entered the king’s chamber, he didn’t have a copy of Getting to YES, and it wouldn’t have helped if he did. Why? Because kings don’t negotiate with their servants. Nehemiah had to use a different approach, one that is a great leadership case study on how to approach a king, CEO, manager, or senior pastor with what seems to be an outlandish request. We can learn a lot from examining how Nehemiah petitioned the king:

He was respectful—“May the king live forever” and “If it pleases the king….” He honored the king’s position, making it clear that he was asking, not demanding. There is no better example in all the Bible of Proverbs 22:11 in action: “He…whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend” (NIV).

He was honest—“Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” He didn’t skirt the issue. He was open and aboveboard. Importantly, he answered the exact question the king asked.

He was clear, concise, and specific—“…send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.” Kings, CEOs, managers, and others in positions of authority are busy. They don’t have all day to listen to a rambling request. The best communication is always clear (simple, unambiguous), concise (few words, to the point), and specific (defining exactly what the request is).

He was prepared—“Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, ‘How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?’ It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.” Nehemiah had anticipated questions and was ready with answers.

He was unselfish—“The city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire.” There was not one self-centered thing about Nehemiah’s request. The king could easily have been incredulous: “You want to do what?” Instead, “it pleased the king to send me” (Nehemiah 2:6 NIV). Actually, Nehemiah got more than he asked for: “The king . . . also sent army officers and cavalry with me” (Nehemiah 2:9 NIV). Not a bad outcome for a cupbearer who entered the king’s chamber when “very much afraid.”

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© Copyright 2015 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

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