Book Notes – Leading from the Second Chair: Serving Your Church, Fulfilling Your Role and Realizing Your Dreams

Posted: January 29, 2014 by Todd in Books, Ministry
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Mike Bonem
Roger Patterson
Brief Summary: The core of the book is in the three paradoxes.  A second chair leader is a “subordinate-leader.”  They have a wide perspective (the organization as a whole), while also maintaining a deep perspective relative to their specific areas of leadership/expertise.  They are content in the present, while often dreaming about the future.
The book wasn’t a home run for me.  I don’t disagree with any of it, but as an associate pastor, it did not fill me with lots of ah-ha’s or a clear vision for my role.  But it is one of the few books available on this subject.  Finished March, 2012.
Chapter 1 – Living in the Paradoxes
Being a second chair leader means navigating the extremes of the following paradoxes: subordinate-leader, deep-wide, content-dreamer
Chapter 2 – Am I a Second Chair Leader?
Pathways into the second chair leader: title, tenure, timing, touch, tenacity, and temperamentChoices to expand influence:
1. See issues through the eyes of the entire organization.
2. Be prepared to recognize and act on those unique moments that can shape you and set you apart as a second chair leader.
3. Don’t back down from the right decision
4. Have a “whatever it takes” attitude [more…]Section I – The First Paradox: Subordinate-Leader
Chapter 3: Taking it from the Top
Be willing to subordinate yourself to the first chair.
Chapter 4: Crossing the Line
Respect the lines of authority and autonomy given to you by the first chair.
Word to the First Chair – Subordinate-Leader: Invest relational capital in your second chair(s); Allow for some leadership capacity.
Section II – The Second Paradox: Deep-Wide
Chapter 5: A Matter of Perspective
Effective second chair leaders are able to keep the entire organization in perspective (wide).  Systems thinking can help.  Keep eyes on the details of your own areas of responsibility (deep).
Chapter 6: Building the Team…One Relationship at a Time
Focus on building relational capital; Build a diversity of perspectives and styles into your team.
Some practical steps:
– Be selective in spreading your opinions
– Be affirming
– Be unselfish
– Be discreet
– Be constructive
– Be involved
Chapter 7: Putting it into Practice
Four Practices to make you deeper and wider.
1. Be a pulse taker (of the organization).
2. Be a vision amplifier.
3. Be a leader multiplier (esp. around the vision).
4. Be a gap filler.
Word to the First Chairs on the Deep-Wide Paradox: To enable the width of your second chair, it helps to see him or her as a partner rather than a subordinate.  Allow for behind the scenes debate and explanations.
Section III – The Third Paradox: Contentment-Dreaming
Chapter 8: Contentment in the Second Chair
Contentment is a choice.
Reaching one’s ultimate goals may not mean going for the peak during this season.
“Contentment in the second chair is your choice to stay and grow and excel, for a season, regardless of current circumstances.”
The second chair can be a “season of waiting.”  (Todd’s note: use it as a season of preparation)
Chapter 9: Dreaming in the Second Chair
Remember to keep pursuing your dreams, even through seasons of waiting.  Be careful with whom and how you share your dreams as a second chair.  Cultivate “dream stewardship.”  Delayed gratification is key.
Dream with your first chair in your current setting AND hold to your own dreams.
Chapter 10: Leaving the Second Chair
Be honest before beginning in the second chair, else your chair may be too big.
When considering leaving, look for win-win situations, but it is often difficult to find.  Beware of leaving too soon or hanging on too long.
First chair leader changes often trigger second chair leader changes.
Never do anything to undermine your organization.
Use exits as an opportunity to grow and leave a better leader.  Leave a legacy and don’t burn bridges.
A Word to First Chairs on the Contentment-Dreaming Paradox
Start a shared vision with the second chair by being clear about your vision.  Try to understand their vision and orientation.  Listen for the discontentment in their ministries.  Work to get to “our vision.”  “Keep and release” second chairs – cultivate them until they are ready to move on.

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