Ten tips for orienting leaders

30 09 2013

top-10-list-2010-resized-600If our goal is to bring out the best in our leaders and help them contribute to fulfilling the congregation’s mission, then we need to take time to orient them about what matters most and what they absolutely need to know or be able to do to be successful.

Group orientation sessions seem to be the most commonly used training settings but don’t hesitate to take advantage of meeting with leaders via webinars, Free Conference Call session, or perhaps with 1-3 others at a coffee shop.  Post training resources online so leaders can read these items at their leisure.  Find ways to make your orientations mobile – that can occur anywhere, anytime with anyone. The majority of my trainings take place with small groups of people using my iPad to show job descriptions, handouts, video clips and slide shows.

Listed below are my “Top Ten”  topics that I address at every leadership orientation:

1. A Snapshot of the Congregation
In less than 5 minutes, I cover the history, size, average worship attendance, and background of the congregation so that leaders gain a greater sense of identity of the organization they’re serving.

2. Mission, Vision and Values
The mission, vision and values of a church serve as the rudder for an organization, helping people understand its purpose, priorities, plans for living into God’s preferred future. Highlighting these items ensures that all leaders are working toward a common vision.

3. Information About Structure, Staffing and Next Steps
Leaders need to know  how the congregation has organized itself to fulfill its mission and vision, who is responsible for what, and what projects are currently being addressed by other leaders.  This helps leaders know  who to go to for more information and what issues are currently being addressed. Consider providing leaders with an organizational chart that also includes the names of leaders that oversee each ministry area.

4. The Congregation’s Culture
Every organization has a culture that affects the way information is communicated, how decisions are made and how people interact with each other. This includes the beliefs, values and norms of the organization along with the assumptions leaders hold about their leadership role and the role of the congregation.

5. A Congregational Covenant
Covenants are created to help people understand what is appropriate and what is not, and describes how leaders will team together in healthy ways to fulfill their common vision. Consider asking new leaders to recite the covenant during the orientation and commit it to memory. Covenants should be recited at all leadership meetings.

 6. Communication Channels
Leaders must be aware of all available tools used to communicate the mission, vision and values of the organization along with who’s working on what and what projects are due when.  These channels include newsletters, verbal announcements, weekly emails, Facebook postings, Tweets and text messages along with Google Docs and project software like Basecamp.

6. A Ministry Description
Provide every leader with a ministry description that articulates the purpose of the position, one’s primary roles and responsibilities, one’s term of service and who they reports to or can obtain support from. Walk through document, line by line,  ensure that there’s understanding and buy-in about what is expected of them.

7. A Master Calendar of Major Events and Project Deadlines
Help leaders gain a broader understanding of what events and projects need to be planned and promoted.  List major events and deadlines such as finalizing next year’s budget, completing a financial audit, and setting VBS dates.

8.  A Leadership Manual
Provide leaders with a manual that covers all the essential forms and information they’ll need during their term of service.  This will show that you value their investment of time and energy and will serve as a handy reference guide when questions arise.

9. Books, Blogs and Other Resources for Growing as a Leader
Provide opportunities for leaders to continue to grow in faith and find new ways to exercise their leadership capacities.  Consider having all congregational leaders read the same book.  Discuss your insights online and during meetings.

10. Information on Setting 30-Day Goals 
Consistent movement toward desired goals and God’s preferred future helps energize leaders and usually leads to even greater impact as other people experience the positive energy that occurs when good things are regularly occurring.  Addressing this topic during orientations will more deeply embed this practice into the fabric of your congregation. I usually have participants begin setting 30-day goals as part of the orientation process.

What do you consider to be the “essentials” elements of your leadership orientations?


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One response

18 10 2013
Sarah Hughes

I think it would be fruitful to examine our congregation’s culture. What are the norms? What are the assumptions? How are decisions made? I also need to be more proactive about using all communication channels regularly to communicate what is going on with the youth. Adults aren’t going to be inspired to participate unless they know what is going on!

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