Communication Leadership Making Church Matter

Some things my staff needs from me (part three of three)

September 8, 2009

This week we’re taking time for some staff reflection and development before our big “fall launch” weekend.  In that time we are going to be looking at our staff culture and values.  I have been thinking about things I want my staff to know.  But the other side of that are things my staff needs from me.

1. Focus

Staff deserve a leader worth following, someone who can describe a more desirable future and, step by step, lead the way there.  I am definitely not a person of vision, I am the furthest thing from a true visionary.  So that would be a problem if I were leading another kind of enterprise, but leading a local Church community happens in the context of what God is doing in the world and where he wants our community to go.  As Pastor, I have to develop and deepen my/our  reliance on God and God’s direction toward the preferred future he has in mind for us. And my staff have a right to expect a clearly articulated vision, or, rather, consistant articulation of the vision as I have ability to see at any given time.  I am not a visionary, but I am gifted with focus, and if I keep looking at something long enough, I can see what’s ahead.  I have to focus and give articulation to what’s ahead.

2. Discipline

There is no leadership that doesn’t begin with self-leadership;  my staff have a right to expect me to lead myself, to have not only focus but also discipline in my professional and in my personal life. I am far from a disciplined person, but I am growing, I am developing discipline and they have a right to expect that.

3. Courage

My staff have a right to expect courage from me.  That is going to mean different things in different circumstances and situations.  When our Church is being attacked, its about standing up to the attack; when individual staff members are being attacked, same thing. When difficult decisions need to be made and hard converations have to be had, when problems need to be faced and blame needs to be taken, my staff deserve to be led with courage, despite my fears. 

4. Direction/Management/Administration

Everyone on staff needs and deserves direction: what is it they are being asked to do, what are our standards, how do we do what we do.  And no matter how self-motivated, they need management,  they need help in how things get done and connect with other things that other people do.  Staff also need administration, which means the environement in which they do what they do is administered, is taken care of.  They deserve the resources and support needed to do what we are asking them to do.   

At this point there is very little administration  that I do personally (there are people here who are much more talented at that than I am), but it is still my responsibility to make sure it happens. This also includes making sure they have approbriate compensation.  This is one of my greatest struggles in a Catholic setting.  Catholics are use to free labor, that’s what they’ve been trained to expect  (and what they are perfectly happy continuing to expect.)  Changing that view and raising the funds to pay a living wage to our growing staff is an important job for me. 

5. High Standards

Making a commitment to serve here at Nativity, our staff has a right to expect the highest standards we can set, their time and their service deserve no less.  It won’t work if everybody sets their own standards, because inevitably things will slide to the lowest common denominator.  Standards need to be set by leaders.  And they have to be honored by leaders.

6. Short accounts

This is essential to successful relationships, so its essential to staff relationships.  It is definitely a difficult one for me, I don’t like confrontation or possible conflict, but keeping short accounts keeps conflict to a minimum and confrontation less stressful.  It also helps everybody know exactly where they stand at any time.  Leaders want to know that.

7. Attention to details

This one is easy for me up to a point: I naturally pay attention to a lot of details that I’m interested in.  Other details can get lost sight of if I don’t make sure someone is looking out for them.  But details matter and the staff deserves an environment where they get attention.

8. Seek and value their opinion

I need to be asking for their view and growing in my understanding of their opinions.  I need to know whats important to them and how they’re feeling.  That means investment of time.

9. Good humor

I had a former boss who used to say “sometimes you’ve got to bang the table and get angry.” That’s probably true, but usually a good mood should prevail and even correction should be done gently and carefully. This is an area that I needed a lot ofgrowth in when I become a Pastor.  And I am still learning about this one.

10. All the things I expect from them (see below).

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