I remember when I started at Westwood Church nine years ago (this month is the start of my tenth year – yikes!). The Lead Pastor at the time (Mel Fehr, who is now in Edmonton) was very intentional about having me play a public role as often as possible.
Since I was new, Mel wanted me to have lots of “face time” with the church family so that they would get to know me and we would build a relationship. It was a very good leadership decision on his part, and it helped me integrate as a leader more quickly than if I was less visible.
As I reflect on my own years of leadership and the leadership of those around me, I have come to firmly believe that people will not see you as a leader unless they see you as a leader. It sounds redundant (and it is), but the point is that invisible leaders are not leaders at all. People notice who shows up. And who doesn’t show up. Stated in the negative, absence speaks volumes.
A leader will not be effective is she is not seen to be a leader. A leader will not have any influence if he does not show up to lead. No one will follow a leader who does not appear to be there.
One of the best ways for a new leader to earn trust and to develop relationship health is to be publicly visible and to play a clear leadership role in front of people. Visible participation (not just attendance), builds leadership credibility.
As our staff team has changed and grown over the years, I have tried to follow the example that was shown to me when I started here. That is why we have three different Sunday teachers. That is why our Lead Team does weekly announcements. That is why our elders lead communion. It would be easy for me to dominate each of these areas, but it would also be dysfunctional.
What about you?
- Are you a new or emerging leader? If so, look for (and ask for, if appropraite) opportunities to lead, to have a voice. Start to build leadership health and credibility by, well, leading! In front of people.
- Are you a leader of a team? If so, strategically place your leaders in places where they will gain public profile. And watch them step up and grow!
Remember, people will not see you as a leader unless they see you as a leader.