Succeeding in a Paid Position

by Dan Hotchkiss

Each year, thousands of musicians, educators, clergy, office workers, and custodians start new jobs in congregations. If all goes well, the new staff member will eventually become an energetic, well-respected, and productive member of the team. The staff member helps to make this happen, but so do the governing board, the head of staff, and other supervisors. I will share some thoughts first for the top leadership, then for the new staff member directly.

What Makes for a Strong Partnership?

by Dan Hotchkiss
Nothing is more important to a congregation’s dynamism than strong partnership between the clergy leader and the governing board.

By a strong partnership, I don’t mean one in which the partners are necessarily comfortable or happy all the time. A strong partnership is one that produces results in keeping with the congregation’s mission. To accomplish that, the partners need to agree about the mission and their plan for achieving it. They need to know what to expect of one another, so that over time they can build trust. They need to communicate frankly about what is going well and what needs fixing. And they need a way to make decisions that allows the work to move ahead.

How to Give Away Your Power

by Dan Hotchkiss
It’s relatively easy to find people willing to do tasks. It’s hard to cultivate real leaders—people to take charge of projects and gather others to get something done. As one pastor put it, “We have willing workers, but I can’t seem to create leaders. I can delegate work, but I don’t know how to delegate authority.” To delegate effectively, you need to balance three things: authority, guidance, and accountability. This is true for delegating tasks, and truer still for delegating leadership. Until we learn to bring people to full competence in little things, we can’t lead them to full competence in bigger things. Learning to delegate tasks completely is a necessary step toward readiness to delegate power.

The Rabbis

by Dan Hotchkiss
The job was to facilitate what may have been the most diverse and ecumenical gathering of rabbis ever. For this three-day rabbinical retreat, I had prepared three days’ worth of material. But I became an awed spectator of a learned debate, with lasting admiration for the willingness of fourteen rabbis to struggle with their differences in the name of a shared purpose.

“What’s Good about That?”

It’s good to pay attention to what’s going well. Most congregations—like most people—can accomplish more by building on their strengths than worrying about how to fix everything that could be better. Sometimes that’s all it takes. But at other times, wise leaders need to add an extra twist and ask, “What’s good about this?” This simple question takes appreciation to a higher level. read more