Having productive conversations with leaders: Facebook live

16 Jul 2020
Presenting new ideas to senior leaders is part of our job, but making sure those conversations are productive can feel hard! Rachel shares five things to consider before you go into those meetings.

For the full version of Rachel's wisdom you can see the webinar below. We've also added notes under the link.

1. Consider your approach

  • We will inevitably go into any conversation influenced by past experience or assumptions, and this will affect how we approach the conversation. Instead of seeing everyone as part of a team handpicked by God to bring his kingdom about in this place, we might go in feeling out of place, or as if the senior leaders are the opposition we have to outwit, or thinking we won't be heard.
  • To help work out how you are feeling, ask yourself the question 'what movie am I in?' Am I the hero about to fly in and solve every problem? Or am I the underdog, misunderstood and misheard? Or am I readying myself for a fight? Once we've done that we can choose to go with a different, more helpful scenario in our head.

2. Get alongside the vision

  • Communicate how your idea fits into and resonates with the vision that the leadership holds. Generally, your idea will fit with the overall church vision, but they may not see that immediately, particularly if you present it as standalone or competing.
  • Articulate how what you want to do (your idea) fits within that overall vision so they can see the 'why' behind the idea. Don't give them the idea first, without this context.
  • Be prepared to be flexible and work with leaders to create something that works.

(If it really is a competing vision, you will have to persuade them - Rachel covers that below).

3. How do they make decisions?

Work out how they make decisions - this will help you communicate your idea well and present it such a way that it doesn't feel difficult for them to run with. Think through:

  • Pioneer or settler? Are they a pioneer - someone who loves new things and is happy to take risks, or are they a settler - someone who prefers to tweak things and take small steps towards change?
  • Internal or external processor? Are they an internal processor who needs the initial information and then time to consider, or are they an external processor who needs several meetings to talk things through.
  • Problem solver or just wants the solution? Are they problem solvers and happy to get involved in the nitty-gritty, or do they just want to hear the solution?
  • Do they need historical proof? Will they need you to show them where it's worked before?
  • Next step person or big vision person? Is the best way to talk about things is this is the next step, or are they happy with the big vision and let you take care of the steps?
  • Visual or verbal? Are they someone who wants charts, stats, visuals?

4. What's the fear?

If our idea or vision cuts across deep-seated values that leaders hold, it will evoke a negative response.

  • Avoid presenting your idea as cutting across their values. For example, if a leader holds the value that everything church does should be professional and well-presented, as you communicate your idea you can reassure them that your new group will reflect his values as you mention how you'll communicate the idea, how you'll think through the programme, etc.
  • Asking questions can help tease out  what the fears are: for example, what makes you hesitate about this, or what would be your worst nightmare about this can help tease out those fears so you can work together to make sure things work for both of you.

5. Is it over-submission?

It can be easy to submit everything to our leaders' approval, expecting them to make decisions about things that they may not need to.

  • Recognise what is a church leader decision and what isn't - you will have significant authority to do things in your job description.
  • Involve your leader appropriately: either by taking something to them, or by keeping them informed (in a way that works for them) about things you are introducing or changing.
Image acknowledgements

Modeling clay by Gmevi from Getty Images via Canva Pro