7 Tips for Starting a New Role

Are you starting a new role? Do you know somebody who is?

How you start is important. You only get to do it once. So here are seven practical tips to make your start a good one.

1. Finish Well – How you finish your last role will impact how you start your new role. Intentionally reflect on your last role by asking yourself, What can you celebrate? What have you learned? What do you need to grieve? What do you need to forgive? What do you need to leave behind or take with you?”

Take an hour and work through this Transition Examen to help make sure you have finished well and are ready to move into your new role.

2. Start Fresh – Your new role will take lots of energy over several months. So it’s best to get a vacation or rest in before you start.

The same goes if you are making a move internally. Don’t end as youth pastor on Friday and start as lead pastor on Monday. Taking a break between the two roles isn’t just good for you, it’s good for the team. They need time to mentally switch gears and welcome you in your new role.

One last thought on an internal move: switch offices or at least switch your office around to give a physical fresh start.

3. Get Connecting – Make a 360-degree list of key people to meet and get to know, e.g., whom you report to, peers, your direct reports, key volunteers and stakeholders.

Set aside regular space in your calendar for as many connects as possible in your first month. And go to their turf to see and experience their world, if possible.

Ask everyone the same questions: (1) What do you love about our church/organization? (2) What dreams/hopes do you have for the future? (3) What, if anything, needs to change to help us be more effective/successful? (4) What’s one piece of advice you have for me as I start? (5) Would you be open to praying for me in this new role?

Do your best to work the room and meet people. If you are in the church world, make a goal to meet people before and after services. Visit the children’s ministry time and youth events.

Remember: Most people will be internally wondering, “Does he/she see me? Will I matter to them?” Make your answer clear by being accessible, visible and relational.

Also, keep your eyes and ears open for anyone who might be grieving your arrival. Ask yourself, “Who might be feeling like they are losing position or influence with my arrival?” Build connection with these people.

4. Cultivate Trust – The currency of leadership is trust. With more trust, you can lead faster and further. With less trust, it will be harder and slower. Think of your first weeks as building a trust bank account. Every interaction is an opportunity for others to make a deposit or withdrawal. You can’t control whether people trust you, but you can seek to positively influence their trust in you. Consultant and friend of Arrow Leadership, Dr. Jay Desko, has identified six trust builders: communication, character, concern, competence, connectedness and consistency. See his article to learn more.

5. Early Wins – Keep your eyes open for early wins, even small wins. These wins show your new constituency that you can and will make a difference. Look for what’s been left undone or needs attention. What’s a small noticeable improvement you can make? Some early wins can build trust and confidence that will help your momentum.

6. Discern Where You Are – Many say the first role of a leader is to discern where you’re at. Do an analysis of your department or each department of the organization to discern which phase it’s in: survival, sustaining or thriving. Identify some metrics and get input from others. Then you can begin to make a plan forward based on the greatest needs or opportunities.

7. Pray – You will need more than what you bring to the role to succeed in the role. Be praying and get others praying for God’s favor, wisdom, discernment and protection.

Do you know anyone who is in a new role or starting one soon? Please share this article with them!

Cheering you on the Lead Different,

Dr. Steve A. Brown
President, Arrow Leadership