A six-point prayer to improve your leadership skills

Dame Sarah Mullally recently moved from Devon to take on one of the top jobs at St Paul’s as the 133rd Bishop of London. Last night, she took part in a Q&A at the iconic cathedral to discuss the role, her vision and the future of the church. Sarah wasn’t just highly engaging, but also came across as incredibly savvy. So much so, I’ve compiled her top six sound bites into effective leadership tips.


Whether you’re in PR, marketing, digital or an industry that’s rather left field (like shepherding flocks for example), these can apply – and, more importantly, add value to what you do day-to-day.

  1. You can’t fix everything by yourself: Look at who your current partners are to see how they can help you achieve your shared goals. Then, look at a wide spread of similar institutions (in this case, churches of all shapes and sizes) and find out what they can teach you (there’s always something, you just need to look hard enough), you can teach them and introduce skills-sharing initiatives to benefit all parties.
  2. Take time out to reflect: This uninterrupted time can give you the space you need to see how you can become the solution to your own problems. Sarah was referring to prayer. But, used well, quiet time is an opportunity to be transformed just as much as it is to develop ideas to transform the world.
  3. If you can’t change it, respect it. Then find a way around it: Sarah may have been talking about gender inequality within the church, but this is applicable elsewhere. Recognising that change can be slow, she encourages individuals to focus their energies on identifying the resources they personally have access to, to drive change. Ask yourself, ‘where’s my influence?’ and take action.
  4. Be open to change: Failure to listen and learn will prevent your organisation from evolving. Change is vital, yet hard fought so you need to be in it for the long run.
  5. If you’re too noisy, people won’t listen: AKA the classic ‘one mouth, two ears’ approach. To avoid falling into this trap invite other people’s voices into your projects – to genuinely help shape your ideas into something you might not have achieved on your own.
  6. You own the vision, but let the team help interpret how you get there: When asked how she perceived the church’s responsibility to balance the split between outreach and service, Sarah said she sees clergies across London finding their own way to achieve God’s vision to make disciples of all men and compassionately heal those in need. If your business priorities are of equal importance or, even worse, interdependent, let those on the shop floor decide what happens next. This will free you up to continue enabling and empowering them to do their jobs even more effectively.

After an enlightening evening, that’s my ‘divine’ interpretation of Sarah’s thoughts. A wise and inspirational woman, with a successful background in nursing, I firmly believe her advice is applicable beyond the pulpit and can help managers and future leaders everywhere, no matter what the sector.

Check out St Paul’s website to view the event film and listen to the Q&A podcast to hear it for yourselves.


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