6 Best Practices for Second Chair Leaders

In my last leadership tip of the week I gave you four insights to help you maintain perspective as a second chair leader. This week’s tip looks at six best practices that will help you maximize your impact as second in command.

1. Build Trust

Trust has been called the currency of leadership and second chair leaders need to actively build a ‘trust bank account’ with their first chair leader. Deposits need to be made over time through delivering your deliverables with excellence, clear and regular communication, effective execution, dependability, strong work ethic, good decisions, positive attitude, listening, encouragement, etc. What is your ‘account balance’ with your first chair?

2. Pray For Your First Chair

There are many best practices for second chair leaders, but praying for your first chair pleases the Lord and is a powerful way to serve them as well as see transformation in them and yourself. Do you pray more for your first chair leader than you critique them?

3. Develop Relationship

The greater relational connection you can build with your first chair leader the better. Try to find common ground and connection outside the daily ‘business’ you share.

4. Ask Guiding Questions

Making bold statements and sharing strong opinions have their time and place. However, asking guiding questions can a powerful stimulus for raising issues and starting discussion in a manner that is less threatening for all involved. So, before you make a blanket statement or take a firm position, consider asking a question that helps your first chair leader thoughtfully pause and think. Seeking to invite discussion is far better than sparking a defensive posture or miscommunication. How can you turn your statement into a discussion question?

5. Speak Up When Needed

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell recounts the crash of Korean Airlines Flight 801 into the side of a mountain. The examination of the flight voice recorder revealed that there was no mechanical problem with the plane. It also revealed that the co-pilot and navigator not only knew they were flying to their deaths but could have averted the crash. They simply didn’t speak up because of fear, established protocol and culture. The lesson here for second chair leaders is that there are times when you need to very clearly speak up. The key is to discern when to do so.

6. Beware of Poison

Jealousy (“I should be the one in the spotlight”), pride (“I could do this better”) and self-pity (“I do all the hard work”) are all temptations facing second chair leaders. Left unchecked these temptations can slowly and subtly grow into a very deadly poison. Check your heart regularly and constantly monitor the words of your mouth so you can quickly address any sign of poison.