National Boss Day is October 16 in the United States—and an appropriate time to recognize bosses worldwide. In recognition of this most important event I talked with a number of ministry assistants (who, almost without exception, say they work for and with excellent leaders) and pastors (each of whom was quick to say his or her assistant was top-notch). A few noted they had less than satisfactory work situations in the past and benefited from lessons learned. With a view toward opening up some interesting dialogue, here is what these office team members shared.
I appreciate it when you—
• Show loyalty to your staff
Much is said of the need for the assistant to be loyal to the boss. Excellent bosses are similarly loyal to their assistants.“I can count on my boss to speak up for me, to treat me with professional courtesy, to give me the benefit of the doubt in conflict situations, and to respect the mutual confidentiality of the workplace.”
• Challenge me
Assistants of today are eager to venture beyond the ordinary. They want to be challenged with new and difficult assignments that contribute to ministry. “I’m constantly motivated toward excellence because my boss pays me the compliment of trusting me with meaningful jobs that stretch my skills.
• Involve others in decision-making
Few things increase job satisfaction more than having your voice heard. “Making major revisions in our office organization could have been disastrous to our team. But, from the start, our wise pastor included each of us in the process; we became committed to the success of what we planned together.” More often than not, it is not change that causes problems, but how the change is implemented.
• Tell me what you expect
“Something I admire about my pastor’s leadership is that he is clear about the results he wants. I choose how to proceed, but I always know where we’re going.” Assistants want to be more than busy; they want to be effective in achieving ministry goals. “I like, too, that I’m asked to do things rather than given orders.”
• Recognize the value of training
“My minister told me seminars motivate her to excel. She thought a conference would do the same for me. I went; it did. I am grateful for her belief in me and in my professional growth.”
• Confront problems promptly and impartially
Ignoring difficulties almost always makes matters worse. As uncomfortable as it may be, dealing with problems is something a leader must do. “My pastor expects staff members to follow the rules equally. If there is a problem, he instills confidence by dealing with it without playing favorites.”
• Stay grounded
“Pride and arrogance are occupational hazards in ministry. As a ministry assistant and pastor’s wife, I know how hard it can be for ministers to keep ego under control. The compliments and deference they receive must be kept in perspective or self-centered behaviors can develop that make them hard to work for and with.”
• Practice what you preach
Assistants want to be proud of their bosses. They want to work for people known for setting positive examples in speech, appearance, and conduct. “My boss doesn’t just expect me to honor deadlines, he honors them as well. He doesn’t just expect me to be organized, he is organized. He not only expects the staff to lead exemplary lives, he leads a life worthy of our respect.” Nothing earns respect and establishes authority quite like authenticity. “I pray for my pastor every day, asking God to keep him strong and faithful.”
We applaud excellent bosses everywhere and wish them God’s best.