6 Essentials of Leadership - Part 4

The art of communication

Let’s do a quick recap! In previous articles, we discussed how there are six things that are essential for every leader who wants to be a fruitful leader. The first three essentials had to do with our private foundations - our relationship with God, character, and self-leadership - the internal qualities that determine our external reach.

What’s interesting to note about these three things, however, is that none of them actually make you a leader! You could have an intimate relationship with God, an authentic depth of character and highly-disciplined self-leadership, and whilst you’d no doubt be a wonderful person, you wouldn’t necessarily be a leader! So why, then, are these things considered to be three of the six essentials of leadership?

Here’s the big idea: You can have these things without being a fruitful leader, but you cannot be a fruitful leader without having these things.

Stephen Covey expresses this well, explaining that “Private victories precede public victories. You cannot invert that process anymore that you can harvest a crop before you plant it.” That which we are willing to do in secret is often responsible for what happens in public. So if you want to be a fruitful leader, invest first in your private foundations.

With that in mind, let’s jump into the first of our public leadership elements…


There is an inseparable connection between your leadership capacity and your capacity to communicate.

Why is that true? Because leadership is fundamentally about others. It is not about what I am able to accomplish on my own, but about what I am able to inspire and release others to become. John Quincy Adams reminds us that, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Leadership always focuses on a community of people who exist to accomplish a shared mission, and therefore, leadership is always relational. For this reason, leaders rise and fall on their capacity to communicate.

‘The truth is,’ writes Bill Hybels, ‘leaders rise and fall by the language they use … The very best leaders I know wrestle with words until they are able to communicate their ideas in a way that captures the imagination, catalyses action, and lifts spirits.’

As youth leaders, there is an inseparable connection between our leadership capacity and our capacity to communicate. And so, in true cheesy-preacher style, here are my ‘Three ‘C’s of Communication’!

1. Captivating

“Nothing great can happen without beginning first with passion.” - Jim Collins

Passion is contagious. When you’re around someone who is passionate about something - anything! - it’s nearly impossible not to catch something of their passion for yourself. So never apologise for your passion. Don’t bottle it up, don’t water it down, let it out! Paint vivid pictures of the future you envision for your young people. Let the love of Jesus in you flow out unfiltered. Let your passion for the lost spill over so the people around you can’t help but catch it. Let the fire in your belly translate into the sound of your voice as you communicate.

2. Clear

“There is perhaps no greater responsibility and no greater gift that leadership can give a group of people on a mission than to have the clearest, most defined mission possible.” - Tod Bolsinger

Leaders bring clarity out of complexity. They are able to make complex concepts simple to understand. That’s why I believe one of the primary responsibilities of the leader is to give people a crystal-clear picture of their mission; of why they are here and what they are doing.

In the youth group I lead in Malvern, we say that we’re all about ‘Helping those who are far from God discover full life through Jesus.’ That one simple statement brings clarity to everything we do. It means that we have to talk about Jesus in our outreach group, even if it’s going to put some people off. It means that if we ever have a night where only Christians show up, we’re failing in our mission… and everyone on our team knows it.

3. Contextual

“When you can present your own ideas … contextually - in the context of deep understanding of their paradigms and concerns - you significantly increase the credibility of your ideas.” - Stephen R. Covey

The key to contextual communication is listening. One of the mistakes we make when developing our communication is that we give more attention to what we say than how we listen.

And this is revealed by the fact that, in a conversation, we find ourselves either speaking or preparing to speak; that when it’s our turn to listen we find ourselves inwardly preparing our response rather than authentically seeking to understand the thoughts and feelings of the other person. And this is so important in youth ministry because authentic, empathetic listening enables us to communicate in the context of the world of our young people, whatever age we are!

There is an inseparable connection between your leadership capacity and your capacity to communicate.

Questions for Reflection:

  • When listening to others, are you fully engaged, listening to understand rather than to reply?
  • Are you able to discern what others are thinking and feeling, and adjust your behaviour accordingly?
  • Do you use words to speak life, hope and encouragement in order to release others into their God-given potential?
  • Are you able to take complex concepts and communicate them clearly in a way that people understand?
  • Do you shy away from conflict, or are you able to address sensitive issues confidently and graciously?


Enjoy this article? Don't forget to share





Director of LIMITLESS

Tim Alford lives in Malvern with is wife Jen, son Tobijah and daughter Aria.

He is the National Director of LIMITLESS, the youth movement of Elim Pentecostal Churches in the UK and Ireland. He is a passionate communicator of the gospel, having spoken at churches, conferences, schools and events all over the world. Tim is the former frontman of [dweeb], a frustrated supporter of Arsenal, and has on more than one occasion been to the cinema in Star Wars fancy dress.


Laura Hancock, from Youth for Christ, continues to unpack the impact of the latest research on our youth ministries.
Tim Alford continues his Leadership 101 series, with advice on how to lead from home.
Tim Alford and Laura Hancock unpick the recently published report from Youth for Christ, The Z to A of Spirituality.
Joel Harris returns to the podcast to talk through six key elements relating to the mental wellbeing of young people.
Joel Harris discusses his personal story, explaining how social media has impacted him and how he has learned to manage it.

  More Limitless Articles   More Limitless Kids Articles