I don’t know what your job is, but I know a lot of us are “just one of the bunch” where we work. And there’s nothing wrong with that—most of us not only work with others, we need those who work with us to do what our job requires of us. Team is a better word to describe the group we work with, but I want to use bunch to help make the point of this post.
Earlier this summer I saw an ad for a soon to be published book entitled “HOW TO LEAD WHEN YOU’RE NOT IN CHARGE.” Since I had just been added as a part-time staff member at our church, I thought it was something I would enjoy reading, so I pre-ordered it. I received it a couple of weeks ago and have not been disappointed.
For the past 30 years I had been the leader of the team at the church I served and now I was just a member of the team. Not only was I no longer the top banana, I wasn’t even the second banana. You can see why the title of the book got my attention; but the sub-title closed the deal for me: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority. It isn’t that I want to be in charge, I don’t. But I do want to have some influence with our senior pastor, our staff, and our church leadership.
Author Clay Scroggins is currently the lead pastor of North Point Community Church serving under Andy Stanley (well-known pastor and popular author). In this book he draws on his own experience as he has worked his way through a variety of organizational levels having started as a facilities intern. While the context of the book is church ministry and pastoral staff, his observations and suggestions are not limited to a church setting. There is a lot to consider for anyone who is not in charge, but wants to contribute to the direction of the team of which they are a part.
The book is divided into three sections with ten chapters. For me, chapter 8 (Challenging Up) was the most intriguing. The title tells what the chapter is about, and it deals with the most sensitive aspect of leading when you’re not in charge. Sensitive as it is, Scroggins thoughtfully gives sound advice and direction for doing it.
A few quotes will give you a taste of the book, as well as some things to think about:
“. . . we don’t need authority to have influence” (p. 27).
“The lie we believe is that we must wait until we’re in the leader’s seat before we can have . . . influence.” (p. 33)
“. . . leading when you’re not in charge does not mean you learn skills to get ahead by circumventing the authority above you.” (p. 70)
“If you are in a season of waiting, what can you learn now that you can only learn from the seat you’re in?” (p. 164)
“The way you lead into a conversation can often trump the content of the conversation.” (p. 207)
“. . . the whole purpose of this book is to encourage you to begin leading from where you are.” (p. 214)
“Leadership is not simply a matter of authority. Leadership is about influence.” (p. 193)
If the subject of this book interests you, I recommend it. If you plan to get it, let me know. And if you get it, after you read it, please let me know what you thought. Even if you’re not interested, I hope this post has given you something to think about.
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As always great advice PB. The field we are in is divided in three categories, management, certificated and classified staff.In all my years of doing this I often seen management treat classified staff like second class citiziens and of very,if any, little importance.However, as time goes by and students return to thank you for the role you played in their life, the actual position you held does not matter but the influence you had. Yup, if I influence one child in MIDDLE SCHOOL, I done good and don’t let peoples opinions affect me. Thank you for the blog, it feels good to be affirmed.