From Periods to Commas

Published December 12, 2016


CallingLeading Yourself

“I think we get trapped by titles. We allow people to put a period where God has put a comma.”

With that one simple, put profound statement, Bishop T.D. Jakes gave leaders at the 2016 Global Leadership Summit an entirely new way to think about their leadership “call.”

Traditional thinking is that each leader focuses on their role, perhaps their title, and this role alone defines and determines their leadership call.

But Jakes pointed out that his primary leadership call was that of a “communicator;” a call he lives out in his role as pastor, author, entrepreneur and broadcaster. Each of these roles falls under the overarching umbrella of his “call” – but are separated by commas, leading to yet another connected role.

And when leaders grasp this truth, the results can be transformative.

I first learned the power of this principle many years ago, early in my days as marketing director at an organization. Starting in this role, I inherited several projects, such as flyers, brochures and catalogues. (You can tell how long ago this was!)

But one day, it suddenly hit me. My job wasn’t to produce brochures. My job was to make the phone ring. As a result of my leadership, the phones in the call center would ring. That would allow us to connect with our customers and ultimately make sales.

That broader understanding of my call changed everything.

I was beginning to understand what T.D. Jakes would later describe as a “comma” versus a “period.”

How broad is your own leadership call? Have you placed a period where God has placed a comma?

As a means of self-evaluation, ask yourself these questions.

  • Do I define my leadership primarily by roles and tasks or by how I add value?
  • If I suddenly had a new job, would that mean I have a new call, or does my call transcend my job?
  • As I look at all of the ways my leadership has added value through the years, what has been the common thread? What overriding sense of purpose has permeated all of these roles?

In order to maximize your leadership, look well beyond your present list of tasks. Look at the higher value you add where ever you are. Name it. Own it.

And don’t place a period where God has placed only a comma.

About the Author(s)
Scott Cochrane

Scott Cochrane

Vice President of International

Global Leadership Network

Scott Cochrane serves as Vice President of International at the Global Leadership Network. An insightful and genuine leader, he travels the globe mentoring international teams. Prior to joining the GLN, he was the executive pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna, British Columbia, and provided leadership to the Global Leadership Network Canada.