Assuming that loyalty and good communication are in place between the senior pastor and executive pastor, the best way to strengthen the relationship is to deliver results.
Executive pastor: you have to make “it” happen, and the “it” changes from church to church and season-to-season. You need to be the leader that delivers results, exceeds expectations, and never offers excuses. Some quick suggestions on delivering results:
1. Find out what your senior leader is most passionate about or what frustrates him the most. Pour your leadership fuel on what fires him up and/or solve the constant pain in his side. Continually.
2. Lead with a “we will make it happen” posture. If your senior leader is not most excited to tell you about a new idea or initiative, it means he secretly believes you are the one who will try to manage the idea downward. Have honest discussion but don’t be the killjoy. If his expectations on timeline, cost, or personnel resources need to be managed down (and they often may), don’t begin with the wet blanket. Dream with him, and then develop an execution plan that includes making choices on execution (such as… “We can do A, but then we may have to say “no” to B.)
3. Crush the deadline/timeline. Get things done earlier so that there is margin for improvement. Under-promise on impact and timeline and then over-deliver on the results.
If you can’t deliver results, you should look for another job where you can. What we do is too important and life is too short for everyone to be miserable. An executive pastor who cannot execute is a painfully ironic oxymoron.
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