Winning in Your New Ministry Leadership Role: Priorities for the First 100 Days

new role first 100 days

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We have a frequently-used saying here at The Unstuck Group: “No church drifts into health.” The same is true for marriage, finances, and our work, too: If we want to win in any area of life, we need a plan

When you enter a new leadership role, it’s easy to be reactive to the opportunities and challenges that come with it. But if you want to experience success sooner rather than later, you need to be intentional about developing (and executing) a strategy. As you develop a plan for winning in your new church leadership role, consider establishing these priorities for your first 100 days.

Priority 1: Develop key relationships and establish credibility.

It’s critical to approach each new role with an open heart and mind. Demonstrating humility and a willingness to learn from the current staff and key players is key to building goodwill and relationships. On the other hand, approaching a new leadership position with the attitude that you already know it all will build walls and barriers that are difficult to undo. So, as you step into the first 100 days of your new role, commit first to curiosity, listening, and learning. 

Priority 2: Model the distinctive culture you wish to see.

The culture of a church is often dictated by the senior pastor. If you have never done so before, set aside time to reflect and identify your own behaviors and values, then be intentional about living out those culture-shaping behaviors. There is a big difference between nurturing culture and mandating it. People have to believe it, see it, feel it, hear stories about it, and be inspired by it before they will own it. So as you model the culture, be sure to identify and celebrate early cultural wins when you see them in others.

Priority 3: Contextualize your leadership and make a plan to develop what’s missing.

Job transitions provide many opportunities for personal leadership development. In fact, sometimes what has made you successful in one leadership role will not be what’s needed from you in a new job. It’s important to recognize potential areas for growth and create a personal development plan to strengthen the unique leadership skills needed for your new context.

Priority 4: Establish the expectations and wins.

To be effective, team members need clarity around what success looks like for their positions. It’s important that these wins and expectations for each role are communicated early on and that regular follow-ups and check-ins are established. After all, as the leader, you communicate priorities in two ways: what you say and what you measure. So giving focus and clarity on the wins for each role, then providing benchmarks for progress toward those goals, is key for early success.

Priority 5: Set boundaries to protect your health and work/life balance.

It’s all too easy to dive headfirst into a new role and let all other priorities slip away. But as the leader of your church and staff, it’s also your responsibility to model a healthy work/life balance. Don’t buy into the lie that “things will slow down soon.” From day one, establish Sabbath and, if applicable, your role as a spouse and parent as priorities. After all, the greatest gift you can give those that you lead is your own healthy soul.

Bonus Priority (for Senior Pastors): Clarify a future sense of direction and vision for the ministry.

While the senior pastor does not have to develop the vision on their own, the senior pastor must be the lead communicator of this vision. You are the main voice and advocate for the future of where God is calling the church, so this should be an especially important focus in the first few months of your new leadership role.

You’ll never drift into health in a new role. So plan your work, then work your plan.

We’ve heard from many new leaders that it’s been helpful to engage our Unstuck Process when in transition, shaping fresh direction, or clarifying ministry priorities. But whether you’re new in your leadership role or not, we’d love to come alongside your team to do that. Start a conversation with our team today. 

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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