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Leading From The Second Chair

Leading From The Second Chair

One of the challenges I frequently hear from congregational leaders is, “How can I provide leadership when I’m not the one officially in charge?” Frustrated and immobilized, “second chair” leaders often discount their ability to influence other people’s mindsets and behaviors. Effective second chair leaders recognize that they can make a difference. They acknowledge that playing a “victim” role serves neither them or their organization. Second chair leaders are most effective when they’ve taken time to nurture a relationship with their “first chair” leaders that is built on trust and a common vision. They are willing to share, “This is what I need from you to do my best work.” They are willing to ask, “How might I best use my gifts and efforts to further the mission of this organization?” I believe that all leaders have the capacity to be positive change agents – it’s really a matter of whether they choose to live out of their commitments or choose to live out of their excuses. What are you willing to do to lead more effectively from the second chair?

Some Toughts (8)

  1. Sandy
    added on 14 Aug, 2011
    Reply

    Being a pastor, I imagine that I am considered “first chair” in the congregation, but I’d like to get my two cents in on this question just the same if that’s ok. I just want to say that I really appreciate a “second chair” person who comes forward to tell me what they need in order to effectively lead in their capacity. I also like to sit down with them and hear what their vision is for the entity they are leading. In this way, I can encourage them in goal-setting and realistic expectations, as well as support them in their hopes and dreams. It’s a win-win situation for all involved!

    • added on 28 Aug, 2011
      Reply

      This is the precfet way to break down this information.

  2. added on 19 Aug, 2011
    Reply

    I learned a lot from this post, great help for me, thank you!

  3. added on 28 Aug, 2011
    Reply

    Very valid, pithy, sucncict, and on point. WD.

  4. added on 29 Aug, 2011
    Reply

    Suebprly illuminating data here, thanks!

  5. added on 31 Aug, 2011
    Reply

    Great idea about supporting leaders serving in the second chair. I think “first chair” leaders need to ask questions like, “What do you need from me to do your best work?” or perhaps, “Based on your gifts and passions, how do you see yourself contributing to this ministry?” If we believe in the collective wisdom of our teams, we need to allow team members to share their insights and perspectives.

  6. Rachel
    added on 31 Aug, 2011
    Reply

    I like what Sandy said. I have learned in the two years I have worked with our lead pastor that it is really important to be specific about what I need from him, and to let him know right away if I am not sure of his expectations of me on a particular project, and to be honest if I am not on the same page about something. This makes working together much more pleasant and effective.

  7. Heidi
    added on 10 Oct, 2011
    Reply

    For some areas, I think I sit in both roles. Sometimes at the same time. For instance, there are times that our senior pastor comes to our CE Board meetings. I am the staff person that is to report to this board on a regular basis, so in most meetings, I am the “first chair”. But when he comes to the meetings, I am second chair to him, and first chair to the board-sort of. This role is difficult for me to define, because I think there are no boundaries. I have talked with him about it, as the board members seem to be confused some times, but there is never a clear definition. I love the questions posed here, and will ask them next time he shows up.

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