The 8 Voices Every Leader Hears

Why The Input You Receive And Listen To Is So Important


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Listen to the right voice and you’ll make the right choice. This seems simple enough; but it’s not. Sometimes it can be really hard to discern the right voices in your life to listen to. When you are a leader trying to influence others for their benefit, you are practicing servant leadership. And it seems that everything and everyone is against a leader who tries to serve others.

Voices clamor for your attention, trying to sway you this way and that way. You find yourself in the middle of circumstances, sometimes without warning; and a decision is required of you.

Maybe you are facing a rough patch of life, and you don’t really understand exactly what to do at the moment…be careful.

Leaders take heat because they are in front.

Servant leaders are not in front because they want to be; but on the contrary, servant leaders head to the front because they want to serve and protect the people they feel committed to.

From this frontline position, you become an easy target for whatever voice can grab your ear.

Leaders have to be very careful to only listen to voices that push them toward the intended outcomes they hope to achieve.

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Believe it or not, the Bible has something to say that can benefit a leader immensely when it comes to listening to the right voice.

Proverbs 22:3 NLTse

“A prudent man foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.”

As I write this post, I’m in the middle of overcoming the limitations that having back surgery has placed on me.

It has been a difficult time to say the least.

But something I never expected in all of this, was the voices I would hear regarding my leadership. My emotions have been on high alert; and any slight voice can set them going in the wrong direction.

This is really strange for me, because I’m usually the voice of practicality and stability; but lately, stability is something I seem to seek as I transition my mind to take on new challenges physically.

Many other people understand what I’m dealing with because they’ve been there; but for me, it’s all brand new.

I guess I never realized the danger that a simple voice can carry, as it relates to your leadership. There is an unforeseen danger that leaders must take heed to or risk being swept away by.

Leaders must not only guard their heart; but guard their ears too.

8 Voices Every Leader Hears

Taking precaution and foreseeing the danger of listening to the wrong voices in your life is necessary, unless you want to pretend they don’t exist. In which case you will go “blindly on” and suffer the consequences.

With all this being said, I want give you the eight voices every leader hears and why it is important to only receive and listen to the right ones.


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1.) Your inner voice

This voice has the potential to make you win big (whatever a big win looks like for you), or go over the edge of the cliff. Your inner voice is so important because it is influenced by all the other surrounding voices in your life. As a leader, you have to pay close attention to this voice. You need to make absolutely sure it is leading you in the right direction, because your inner voice is so easily lured into wrong speak.

What is your inner voice saying to you lately?

2.) Negative voices

Usually, this voice is fairly obvious; but it can be tricky. The power of the negative voice doesn’t come through subtlety, it comes through persistence. Negative people persist to speak negative things, and they do it over and over again. The negative voices every leader hears, can have the tendency to wear you down over time, in the same way water eventually wears away stone in a creek bed.

Are you being cautious of the negative voices around you?

3.) Jealous voices

Unfortunately, every leader encounters those who speak to them out of jealousy. Now, it usually isn’t presented as jealousy; but the jealous voice simply offers the leader a new direction. The new direction is intended to get the leader off of his or her current path, leaving it wide open for the taking. Be careful of this voice. Often it can come in the form of those close to us. I don’t say this to cast doubt on those who love and care for you, far from it. A servant leader leads with an open heart, so they are very vulnerable to voices that may appear helpful at first; but in the end turn out to be the voice of jealousy.

How are you guarding your heart as a leader?

Now that we have the harmful voices out of the way, let me take a moment to give you a list of  helpful voices. These are the voices that every leader needs to hear; and also needs to allow to influence their life.

4.) Encouraging voices

Leaders need encouragement too.

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In fact, you need to build a web of encouraging voices that will surround you. I’m not referring to those who just tell you what you want to hear. What I mean, is you need a group of people surrounding you that will hold you up, strengthen you, and encourage you in the moments when it would seem easier for you to give up. Often these voices are found through friends and family. But in our technologically driven day, leaders even have the ability to listen to distance mentors who will provide encouragement.

Are you building a web of encouragers around your leadership?

5.) Wise voices

Again the Bible offers us some guidance about this voice…

“So don’t go to war without wise guidance…”

Every leader is in some sort of a war. Your war is different than that of others. Maybe you lead the fight for faith, or the war for justice. Your war might even be to see others reach their full potential.

In war, a leader needs the voice of wisdom to give them sound advice. Without wisdom, a leader is doomed to make the wrong choices time and again.

Who are the wise people that have access to your ear and leadership?

6.) Caring voices

These are the voices that a leader turns to when things are out of control emotionally, physically, or even spiritually. Simply put…you need someone who cares for you unconditionally. You, the leader, need someone who doesn’t try to offer advice, perspective, or reason; they simply have access to your ear because they love you and care for you. Every leader knows instinctively, that the problems they face need solutions. But in some of life’s more difficult moments, you just have to stop and let someone care for you. Because if you don’t, you may not have the strength to go and care for others the way you really want to.

Is there a voice in your life that speaks out of care and love for you?

7.) Directing voices

You as a leader, need the voice of seasoned veteran leaders, who have the perspective and ability to give you direction at critical times. I have several of these voices in my life; and I’m forever grateful for them. Sometimes they know they are giving me direction, because I’ve asked for it. At other times, their examples have provided the feedback I needed to make better decisions.

No leader should be without a trusted, well-proven, voice of direction.

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Who is the person that can speak direction into your life?

There is one more voice I want to mention in this list. Why? Because likely there are some of you who have already been thinking, “well, the Lord is the only voice I need”. If you’re thinking this, you are right; but stop to consider first, that God uses people in our lives to help us and invest in us.
God’s Spirit is powerful…and for me, He is a non-negotiable voice in my life. So before I list the final voice every leader needs to hear, let me just say again, I’m very thankful for the positive, encouraging people that God has used to further my life and expand my leadership.

8.) Faith’s voice

Faith has a voice in your life.

Your personal faith is what you believe in and hold to be true.

For some their faith is in themselves; but as for me, I trust in God’s leadership voice in my life. I need His voice to speak to me.

Why? Because, I believe, that He is ultimately in control of my future. Faith’s voice in my life tells me there is a better path for me to walk along. One that will lead me to the place I’m supposed to be as a leader. Leadership can be really hard; but the voice of faith in a leader’s life will never fail to guide, direct, serve, and protect if we listen to it.

Leadership Quote

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(Incidentally, it is hard for faith to have a voice in your life unless you have a regular input of scripture and an output of prayer.)

Are you listening to the voice of faith in your life?

Larry Shankle is a pastor, author, and blogger. He helps people get clarity and direction in their calling, purpose, dreams, and leadership.

Larry and his wife (Amanda) live in the Arkansas river valley with their two boys (Braxton and Dawson). He has spent almost two decades in active local church ministry serving in multiple leadership roles. Larry has spent the last six and a half years serving as Lead Pastor of GrandviewChurch in Natural Dam, AR.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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