Selection* of Field Leaders, Part II (*Second Stewardship Practice)

As discussed in Part I, understanding current realities surrounding a vacated field leader position is a critical first step for this second stewardship practice.  Often this preparatory phase is omitted and a person is selected for the field leader position on old or inaccurate understandings, thus putting the new field leader at risk and increasing the probability for failure.

Part II examines the second phase, recruitment.  For a mission organization this can be a tricky phase.

Phase II:  Recruitment: Identifying prospective mission personnel who may be suited to the vacated position and willing to engage with it.

A.     Prayer:  Ask God for wisdom and clarity in taking the following actions. The following steps will not succeed without prayerful intentionality.

B.   Communication:

  1. Let the mission personnel of the team, country or area know about the process that will be taken to fulfill the position.  Let them know also what input is desired and how they can offer it.  In reality, this might be a series of communications, in writing and/or in person.
  2. If possible, let the outgoing field leader communicate with those mission personnel who are directly affected by the change in leadership. Offer coaching to the departing field leader on this communication, especially if the departure has been accompanied by difficult circumstances.  This can provide a beginning of healing, if done well.

C.   Celebration:

  1. Affirm the work of the outgoing field leader.  Everyone needs to be affirmed, even when the role was not a wonderful fit.  Affirmation needs to be given publicly as well is in private.
  2. If possible and appropriate, have a celebration or a farewell party. If the person left with an emergency health situation, this can still be done via a Skype call or a video of affirmation.

D.    Candidate Pool:

  1. Be sure you have an updated, reality-based leadership position description as well as any current action plans for the team, country or area.   Revise these based on your due diligence to be sure they are realistic.
  2. Identify all those who might be candidates for the role and have a commitment to a servant posture.  It is wise to have more than one candidate, even if you keep the list confidential and only interview one at a time during the actual selection.  Multiple candidates (e.g. ideal number is three) allow selectors to examine both the health and match of each individual to the position.  This lessens the trap of idealizing one candidate.  In order to lessen any chance of competition among candidates, this list should be kept confidential among the mission leaders.
  3. The current in-depth understanding of each individual will depend on the level of nurturing oversight candidates have received.
    1. Seek to understand the realities of the candidates’ walk with God and the resources they have in order to maintain their personal and family spiritual resilience.
    2. Asses each candidate’s personality, strengths and spiritual gifts.   This can help discover unknown strengths as well as weaknesses.  The Grip-Birkman Blueprint is one example of an assessment tool that looks at both the spiritual and natural wiring.
  4. In an attempt to avoid competition among candidates, identify the one considered to be the best match and develop an interview process to discuss the role with that candidate.  Remember, this is a process by which either side can stop the discussion. Obviously, this needs to be accompanied with prayer.  If this person does not accept the offer, the leaders can go to the second candidate.  Strict confidence is required.
  5. Also assess the whether the candidate can move to this new position and still sense God’s call on his or her life.   Does the person think the field leader role is taking him or her away from God’s call or giving a new call?   A great article in the EMQ (October 2012, p.446) provides a good discussion on this critical topic.

E.   Commitment:  Think through the organization’s commitments to the new field leader.  This is the place where the practice of leadership values articulated in Part I come into play.  Have a plan in place before selecting an individual.  If the plans are not now in place, make a written covenant of the support promised.  Be honest in the promises made to the candidate.

  1. How will this person be “on-boarded” into the new role?   Is the process new, or one that the candidate has been able to observe with past field leaders?
  2. How will the holistic health and development of their skills be nurtured long-term?
  3. What resources will they have at their ready access for decision-making, communication, oversight and conflict resolution?
  4. What kind of consistent oversight can they honestly expect from their leaders?

Response:  “Wow,” you might say, “I didn’t think selection had so much preparation!”  Selection is like house painting—the hardest and most time-consuming work is in the preparation.  Let us know what you think or questions you have in the “Leave a reply” section below.

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