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Leading a New Team of Leaders

In my journey of job change I’m learning to hit my groove at leading those that are leading others. I’m currently overseeing/managing/leading/supervising/ an Elementary Director, an Early Childhood Director, two part-time ministry and materials assistants, a Youth Pastor, two full-time administrative assistants, and a part-time Youth Ministry leader. It’s a collection of some of the most talented and dedicated people at our church.  Of course I’m biased, but I have to say I think they’re the best of the best.

I’ve always felt comfortable leading strong-willed, talented, creative, and dedicated leaders, but it’s taken some learning and growth on my part. I’m thankful for a patient team that is willing to give me space to grow-up a little (or a lot.) So what have I learned about leading those that are leading? Where have I had to adjust to meet their unique needs and areas of ministry within our church? I’m not sure I have concrete answers yet. Let me put it this way. Here are the truths I’ve found in my journey so far:

  • I’ve worked to set an atmosphere of “not getting offended easily.” I can’t say nobody has been offended so far, but I challenged everyone on this newly formed to team to make a conscientious decision to assume the best of intentions with everyone on our team.  We have to have the benefit of a doubt to work together, and when this is our foundation; then I can lead us where we want to go as a team.
  • I’ve had each area of ministry spend 15-20 minutes at each meeting share about what they do each week in their ministry, and answer the personal question, “Why would you want this job?” We only meet as team every 2 weeks, so we are almost done giving each person a chance to lay their vision, plan, dreams, and current setups out for everyone to see.  I’ve also allowed time for the others to have input into what that person tells us, by asking the question, “What could your ministry do to help this ministry be successful?”
  • I’ve encouraged time together. With this team, we have all worked at the church for years together; but we haven’t really shared life together.  I always allow time at the beginning of meetings, and at other times throughout the week for us to just be together.  We have to get to know each other, and this takes time.  It’s always a work in progress.
  • I hold people accountable individually. I do NOT pick on one person anonymously in a meeting with everyone present.  If there is an issue that needs addressing, I address it with the individual.  I promised them as much when I started leading in January.
  • Leaders need affirmation, and attention. It’s true of me, and it’s true of those I lead.  How much is relative to each individual, and it’s my job to treat each person as unique as I can.  Whether that’s getting an office supply item they need, pushing through approval on a paint project, or telling them publicly something they’ve done well.  I’m always looking for opportunities to encourage, affirm, and build up.

I’m still learning and growing, but I’m also open to what needs may be there tomorrow that I don’t see today.  The ability to be flexible may be my greatest area for growth!

Now, I’m looking for some participation: If you are in a position of leading others, what are your truths?  If you are a leader being led by someone else, what do you need from your leader?

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Jill Crew · March 22, 2011

    I would add trust. The team needs to know that they can trust each other to be open and honest, and to know that everyone has each other’s back. This is so hard to do though! But I know that when it happens, it is so rewarding!

  2. Sheri · March 22, 2011

    Do you do some sort of ongoing leadership training? If so, what? Need some ideas, new to this!

    • Jonathan Cliff · March 22, 2011

      I use all kinds of different things for leadership training. I’ll do a book one month, or maybe share a magazine article, or sometimes we watch something on video and discuss. I try and keep it fresh, never repeating anything twice!