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Episode 57 - 25 Nov 2019

A Leader's First 90 Days

Beginning a new role is often an overwhelming process. But it doesn't have to be. Blake Holmes (Dallas Campus Pastor & Director of The Watermark Institute) joins Adam and John once again to talk about a leader's first 90 days. Whether you are starting a new job, were just promoted to a new role, or have been faithfully serving in the same place for decades, listen in to these 5 practical principles. Find the show notes and more at www.watermarkresources.com/clp.

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Episode Summary

Episode Highlights

Beginning a new role is often intimidating or overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be. Blake Holmes (Dallas Campus Pastor & Director of The Watermark Institute) joins Adam and John again to talk about a leader's first 90 days. Whether you are starting a new job, were just promoted to a new role, or have been faithfully serving in the same place for decades, listen in as Blake shares these 5 practical principles.


Before anything else, a leader needs to remember two basic things. First, pray for wisdom and understanding. No matter how prepared or enthusiastic you may be, there will always be questions you can't answer and problems that arise. Like Solomon when he was tasked with ruling a kingdom, we should ask the Lord to help. There is a temptation going into any new role to prove ourselves. Instead, we should lean on the Lord for guidance. Secondly, clothe yourself in humility. A position of leadership should not be for feeding your ego. Instead, model the behavior of Christ in Mark 10:45, who came not to be served but to serve. Doing these things reminds leaders that they cannot accomplish anything on their effort alone. We are all in need of God's help.

The first 90 days are a unique opportunity to inspire change and encourage others. In many ways, you will set the pace for those you lead. As you enter into this new role, consider the following principles:

5 Principles for a Leader's First 90 Days

  1. Ask a lot of questions - Remember that you likely do not have all the answers. Try to first define reality and understand what you are working with. Even if you are confident with your next steps, don't assume that everyone else sees things the same way. Ask questions like "What do I need to know?" or "What am I not seeing?" If you take the time to listen, you will not lack feedback and helpful information. Take the list of people's concerns and ideas and return to them later on as you progress in your role.
  2. Prioritize what needs to be done - You are going to hear a lot of good ideas. However, you will have to eventually decide what needs to be done. Rather than simply tell people no, consider placing things in a priority of long-term needs and short-term needs. GIve people a clear picture of what next steps are, and what is on the horizon.
  3. Seek buy-in from trusted leaders - Get the right people in the room. Do not be an island where you are the only one supporting your ideas. Remember that people support what they help to create. Getting consensus around important ideas creates energy and enthusiasm. You also don't need to get people to commit to your "10-year plan" right away. Present an opportunity to try something once and see if it works. If an idea works well, then it will gain support over time.
  4. Ask the right people to help - Ask, rather than tell. Asking people's permission can be a powerful alternative to commanding people. Additionally, keep in mind that the right people may not always be found in the most intuitive places. If you are leading a student ministry, consider that administrators, volunteers, or people serving in differing ministries might also have great ideas and input. Don't just limit the "right people" to those paid to think about their area. Don't just look for advisors, look for people who want to lead alongside you.
  5. Follow-through - This is where credibility comes from. You can have all the ambition in the world and get the perfect team assembled and ask all the right questions, but if you do not put things into action, momentum will always slow. Look for early and easily accomplishable wins. Assign tasks to people and make sure that you check in and follow-up. Excellence is doing the best you can with all you have. Realize that people count on you.

These principles are incredibly helpful in the first 90 days of a new role. However, the reality is that every problem after those 90 days are over should be approached the same way. It is far too easy to grow complacent and become reactive. Effective leaders will continue asking questions, prioritizing tasks, seeking buy-in, asking for help, and following through. This extends far beyond the first 90 days.

Questions, comments, or suggestions for future episodes? Email clp@watermark.org

Hosted By
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John McGee

Sr. Director of Watermark Resources

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Adam Tarnow

Cohost of Church Leadership Podcast