I’m in my fourth month serving as lead pastor at West Park Church in London, ON. It’s been a great ride thus far. West Park has a strong foundation and although we face several challenges (as does every church) we’ve got a great future. I’ve chosen to practice 4 essential behaviors that have helped me get a good start and experience some early leadership success. I believe leaders would do well to practice these four behaviors to improve their leadership success.
- Communicate often and well.
- A new pastor must gain the trust of those he leads. One way to build that trust comes through effective and regular communication. People want to know what’s going on. If they don’t, they will connect dots that don’t exist. Here’s what I’ve done to maximize communication.
- I send a short weekly report to our board appraising them of my weekly activities. I’m now answering these four questions each week.
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- What’s the most important thing I must do this week?
- How can you pray for me?
- I include a short paragraph each week in the bulletin called ‘Where’s Waldo (aka Charles)’ where I share the highlights of my week.
- Within the first 30 days I created a 6 month learning agenda I shared with the board.
- I sent the elders a 60 day summary of my insights and goals.
- This week I sent out a 90 day progress report to the entire church after hosting 144 leaders to share our new vision for 2014.
- In my first message I communicated to the church that I had much to learn. I told them that during the first few months I would listen and learn by asking lots of questions. As a result, I’ve held listening sessions with over 100 people asking them about the history and the strengths/weaknesses of West Park. I’ve asked many of those people these four questions.
- Would you tell me about yourself?
- What’s going well at West Park (this parallels one of the above questions)?
- What’s not going well?
- If you were in my shoes, what would you focus on?
- When a new leader or pastor arrives, he or she often falsely assumes that the organization/church expects dramatic and quick change. Sometimes circumstances warrant such change if something is ‘on fire.’ Often, however, a leader must build trust before the church will receive dramatic change. That doesn’t mean that we don’t bring change, however. It’s important that a new leader secures some early wins which requires some change. That in itself fosters trust. But, whether or not you are a new leader, thoughtfully managed change will bring the greatest lasting change.
- I heard someone once say that at the end of each day, the average number of items left to do exceeds 30. This side of heaven we can always find more tasks to fill our time. In my first few months it’s been difficult to keep consistently healthy margins. We are currently short staffed so I’m having to take up the slack. I’m realizing, though, that I can’t maintain my current pace. So, to keep myself and my family healthy, I’m considering these ‘margin keepers.’
- Don’t say yes to everybody that wants to meet with me. Learn to politely say no.
- Ask the board to handle some of the tasks staff otherwise might have handled.
- Make my time more productive. I may have to take another afternoon or two outside the office where I can minimize interruptions and maximize productivity.
What crucial behaviors have helped your leadership succeed?