Six Steps to Being a Leader Who Unifies

By: Executive Pastor Dan Zimbardi

Today is Part 2 of  How to Be a Leader Who Unifies Your Organization. Dan gives the six steps to being a leader that unifies.

The enemy wants to use people inside of your organization to divide it, to pit people against one another and to get people to start gossiping about one another. In Matthew Chapter 4, Jesus is tempted three times, and each time it begins with “Satan said…” I want you to recognize that Satan, the enemy, is talking. He’s talking to you, he’s talking to me, and he was talking to Jesus, 2000+ years ago.

And Satan is talking intending to manipulate, twist, and ultimately use us to create division inside of our organization. 

#1 As a leader, the first thing to do is to be aware that the enemy is working against you.

That battle is fought in the Spirit, through prayer, countering lies with truth and ultimately with the Word of God. As you read through the New Testament the apostle Paul wrote letters to the churches. He wrote over and over again about the problem with division. He called the churches and the people to be united. Because ultimately, Paul knew that for the church to realize its mission, the people had to be united.

#2 The leader sets the pace for unity inside of your organization.

If the leader is someone that is continuously driving division amongst the people, that becomes the culture, and that organization will slow down.

Set the pace of unity by modeling the behavior that drives unity. Do and say the things that are going to bring people together. Make corrections of others when they are divisive, which is difficult for many leaders, especially those that don’t like conflict and don’t want to challenge others. This is an essential part of the job; we must correct people when they are becoming divisive.

#3 Leaders use phrases that foster an environment of unity. 

  1.  I’m sorry. This is a phrase that, as the leader, senior pastor, business owner, or CEO of a corporation, you use to set the pace. If you’re the one, when you make a mistake, you’re the one who says I am sorry, it helps to create greater unity inside of your organization. The idea is to find fault in self before finding fault in others. I want you to go first, as a leader, and acknowledge the fault in yourself when there’s a conflict, struggle, or a problem has occurred.
  2. Thank you. Recognition equals motivation. As a leader, you can set the pace for your team by recognizing people for the hard work they’re doing and for the great results that they’re producing.
  3. I trust you. “I trust you, and I trust the gifts that God has placed inside of you to make this important decision and to do this important work.” This is such a unifying phrase, “I trust you, and I trust what God has done inside of you… When you say that, you’ll see your team come together and be more focused on doing better work than ever before.

#4 Unity requires sympathy and humility.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind sympathize with each other, love each other, as brothers and sisters, be tender-hearted, and keep a humble attitude. 

I want you to think about this idea, and if you’ve read the Bible before, and you’ve been in church for a little while, you’ve heard this, but leaders must die to self daily. What does that mean? To die to self means putting the needs, desires, and what is best for the Kingdom ahead of my desires. If you work for a church, you put what is best for the church ahead of what is best for you.

This is a practical application of dying to self. And so as a leader, you must lead with sympathy and humility, and as you do that, you will see people come together.

#5 Stop being critical of others.

For some of you, you’re critical of yourself, and I want you to understand that the critical person is not driving unity. Often, they’re driving division as they’re talking bad about someone, or continually criticizing someone’s work or their personality or whatever the case may be. We have to make allowances for one another’s false.

Colossians 3: 13-14 Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Which remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others and, above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

I want to give you some language if you struggle with being critical, and a phrase I think will help you to fight against the urge and the temptation to criticize others or criticize yourself. 

“They did the best they could.” Or if you criticize yourself, “I did the best I could.” When you think someone has done something wrong, or you’re wanting to criticize them,  say to yourself or others, “They did the best they could with the resources and the training that they had considering the circumstances of their life at the time.” This is going to help you to fight against that urge to be a divisive and critical person.

#6 Leave before you become divisive or if you become divisive in your organization.

 I want you to think about leaving. I know that doesn’t sound very easy, but I want you to know there’s so much on the line when an organization gets divided. When people are fighting against one another with bitterness and anger that business or church is going nowhere.

When I’m talking about unity in front of groups or the staff here at Sandals Church, I’ll say, “Before I become divisive or if I realize I have become divisive inside of our church, I am going to quit.”

I’m going to leave because I know how vital unity is, and I say that for a couple of reasons, one is for accountability reasons, if I start talking to an employee and I’m trying to get them to think in a very negative and critical way about our Senior Pastor, Matt Brown, and they’ve heard me say I’m going to quit before I become divisive, I want them to challenge me and hold me accountable. I want them to say, “Hey two years ago, I heard you say you’re going to leave before you become divisive.

And so I say this publicly to our team because I want them to hold me accountable, and I wasn’t to set the pace. I want to set the pace for our staff. If I say I’m going to leave if I become divisive, I want our team to do the same thing. I don’t want people to leave. And I know this is a pretty heavy idea, but it’s important, and we have to fight for unity. 

Unity is like gas in the tank, and division is like sand in the tank of your organization. The more we’re unified, the faster and further we will go. The more divided, the more we’re going to struggle to realize our mission. And remember, the leader, you set the tone. You set the pace. It’s through your words and actions, that’s going to drive either towards unity or towards division.