Whenever I enter a new leadership position, I have a few strategies to attempt some early success.
If you know me at all, you know I’m pretty strategic. So, I try to be strategic from day one.
I have had lots of opportunities – lots of transitions, so I’ve had lots of practice on these strategies. (My joke is I can’t keep a job.)
7 strategies in a new leadership position:
Get to know key leaders
I try to get to know the staff and key influencers in the church or organization. I believe God uses the influence of others, so I want to know who I will be working with in the days to come. Think of it this way – if Moses was implementing the “Jethro method”, his primary energy would need to be communicating and investing in those leaders he enlisted to lead others. I use this approach. If I hope to make any substantial changes I know I will need these influencers support.
Let people get to know me
For an introvert it was exhausting, but I am very visible in the early days. In fact, in my ministry I’m usually always very accessible, just as I am online. I have written before (HERE) I may not always be available but I can always be accessible. I want people to feel comfortable with me and trust my leadership, so I think they need to see me frequently – even more so in the beginning days.
Set my initial vision
People want to know where I am going with my leadership. When I came to this church the first time (I’ve returned for another season of pastorate here) I set an initial 7 part vision for the people. I really wanted 3 or 4 initial initiatives, but I landed on 7 – because all these seemed important. They were all things I was passionate about implementing. Some got started faster than others – we are really just seeing a couple of them come to fruition – but the church seemed anxious to get behind all of them.
Just to be clear, I didn’t lead all of these initiatives, but I was the chief vision-caster for them.
Identify quick wins
I look for some things I can immediately impact and change for good. These were things I believe everyone can agree with, don’t require a lot of resources or long debates. I have found things such as minor paperwork nuisances which impact staff morale. Usually I can change things like this fairly immediately. I might invest energy in some areas of ministry which never received a lot of attention, but motivated people. Or, I might re-energize some areas the church had previously been excited about, but weren’t seeing much excitement about currently. Quick wins.
Do the unexpected
It seems like such a small deal, but in a couple of churches I found simply roaming the balcony on Sunday morning was a huge win. It took a little more time, but it proved to be a big deal. Or, talking to the person who would be changing my slides on the screen prior to the service. This was a surprise to them. They said it had never happened before, but it proved to be a big deal. I roam the halls of the offices during the day, walking into people’s offices, and allowing drop-ins to my office when I am available. All unexpected, but it brings very positive feedback.
I realize I’m only one person and although everyone wants some of my time in the early days – and there were more ideas than we could ever accomplish, I know I will burnout if I don’t pace myself. This means I say no to some things – really many things. It isn’t easy to say no to such eager people, for me or them, but I know it will prove best in the end if I am able to last for the long run.
Move slowly on the biggies
Being honest, there are always some big items I know I’d like to change immediately. I have had enough prior experience, however, to know some changes are too big to launch quickly. I could; especially in a honeymoon period. I could probably “get away with them”, but the people don’t really know me yet in the early days. (Of course, that’s different this time.) I might win a battle, but lose the war. (To use a cliche.)