From Periods to Commas- How Leaders Expand Their Call

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“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 which he lives out in his role as pastor, author, entrepreneur, and broadcaster. Each of these roles fall under the over-arching 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 over-riding sense of purpose has permeated all of these roles?

In order to maximize your leadership, start to 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.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.


  1. “But one day, it suddenly hit me. My job wasn’t to produce brochures. My job was to make the phone ring. That broader understanding of my call changed everything.” That is really good stuff Scott! It is easy to get into management mode and knock out our tasks week in and week out and forget the “WHY” behind the “WHAT”… Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Thanks Michael. Love the way you put it; “Forget the WHY behind the WHAT”. That’s the point where management turns into leadership.

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