Bringing correction is one of the toughest jobs for those in leadership, but it’s a responsibility that cannot be delegated or ignored. In order for correction to be effective, it must not be too light or too heavy. Unfortunately, many of us have experienced far too many ineffective forms of leadership correction.
I read a great example of how to properly correct in the life of Samuel. In 1 Samuel 12, the people had gotten off track, and Samuel lovingly and effectively brought them back into line. Here’s what his example teaches us on how to correct followers:
1. Shared history (v. 2). Samuel reminded them of what had happened in their history, and even what they had experienced together. “Newbie” leaders need to be cautious about bringing correction that violates an organization’s established culture.
2. Integrity (v. 3). Samuel’s words and lifestyle lined up. That doesn’t mean he never made a mistake, but it does mean that he was willing to acknowledge and repair his mistakes. Nothing is worse than a leader who says, “Do as I say, not as I do!”
3. Common ground (vv. 6-11). A leader needs to get everyone on the same page. Find something somewhere on which everyone can agree, and then move forward from there.
4. Just say it (vv. 12, 13). Don’t beat around the bush; don’t try to bring correction through a parable; don’t soften the blow. Just say it: “This is where I believe you made a mistake.” Far too many leaders talk too much and leave their followers saying, “Huh?” If you are going to bring correction, make sure your followers know exactly what it is you are correcting.
5. Give the remedy (vv. 14, 15, 20, 21). Samuel pointed out the error, and he just as clearly told them how to get back on track. The remedy should be as clear and simple as possible.
6. Remove the fear (vv. 20, 22). Don’t let the corrected follower be afraid of you! Fear will never re-establish trust. Samuel couldn’t have been more clear on this. He literally said to the Israelites, “Do not be afraid.”
7. Demonstrate servant leadership (v. 23). At the close of the meeting, Samuel said he would do two things: “I will continue to pray for you, and I will continue to teach you.” In telling them this, Samuel was really saying, “Let’s walk through this together.”
If you lead your family, your church, your company, or your team, you are going to have to bring correction at some point. When you need to do this, take some time to review this list and bring correction the way Samuel did: lovingly and effectively.