I was thinking this week about the challenge of leading great people—and how we are not only leaders of students as youth workers—we’re the leader of leaders as well. Here are the 10 jobs I think we have as leaders of leaders. Add your thoughts in the comments!
Your team is doing a great job, so cheer them on! Many of us in leadership understand the vacuum of gratitude for what we do, largely from first-hand experience of loneliness at the top. Invisible leaders will soon be invisible altogether. Don’t let this be the case for your people!
Simply put, when you care for people, they’ll be better leaders. They will last longer and endure more under your leadership. The opposite is also true—if they aren’t cared for, when hard times come (and they will) they’ll disappear. Care for your people and they’ll care for your people.
Coaching is the gentle nudge of your leadership to get people back on track. Coaching is the side conversation that helps people see a better way or a different perspective. Coaching is helping people get better every day, rather than just when they mess up. Being a leader of leaders means thinking about your people and coaching them every day.
Leaders are going to lead—and occasionally leaders in your care will need to be corrected. Correction goes beyond the earlier concept of coaching—this is the firm conversation or confrontation to make a change. Correction is part of your job description, too.
Leaders of leaders need to be challenged. Give them a big piece of the ministry or they will find a place that will trust them with more. A great leader surrounds themselves with great leaders—and then gives them a chance to demonstrate it. If you are intimidated by good leadership around you, you’ll continually limit them to pacify your own insecurities. Set them free, challenge them even, and everyone wins.
The leader must communicate. It should be first and last of their list of to do’s every day. Communicating involves what’s happening this week, but also talking through when things go wrong and you taking account for what happened and leading through how it’s not going to happen again. Communicating is also a big part of creating a compelling vision for everyone to follow.
No one cares about your youth ministry more than you. Speak out, share and affirm what your leaders are doing with the larger church.
The biggest thing a leader/pastor needs to do is be the captain. I’ve suffered in ministry when the leader refused to be in charge and when the leader let more charismatic people take the helm and drive the ministry into the rocks on the leader’s watch. Being a captain also means you are the one creating vision and direction for the church. While others may man a wheel of the ministry, having clear direction and course from the captain keeps the ship off sandbars and from straying off the path or going aimlessly in circles in the sea of uncertainty.
Leaders must create and/or nurture sustainable cultures in which the Gospel can be manifest in that leaders’ context/environment. Copying another leaders style, say from the West Coast, might not work as well in the East. Hopefully, the four things you’ve listed will accomplish this goal, but I bet it’s worthwhile to remind the leaders to examine the culture and context in which they serve. The correct placement of your passion with the world’s needs is critical to ministry.
Every leader of leaders should have chiseled abs and stunning features. I’m just messing, but seriously. I think on the flip-side or in complementing coaching we must lead by example. Our kids aren’t the only ones that watch what we do or the choices we make. In fact, sometimes the leaders we lead are more influenced by us than the kids are. They often take their leadership cues from us. I was talking with a missionary this past Sunday telling him about the various resources I was looking at for our youth ministry and staff, and he said, “Well, whatever resources or curriculum you decide on, just remember that your life is the real curriculum teaching these kids and staff.” Wow.
Thanks to Matt Murphy, Rusty and Micah for these additional thoughts!