How to Be A Good Deputy
It isn't easy to be a good deputy ... an effective second chair. On the one hand, you must represent your leader to the staff and on the other, you represent the staff to the leader.
A primary goal of a deputy is to win the trust of your leader. He must perceive you as his right hand man ... on his side, fighting together ... not fighting against him. That doesn't mean that you are a yes-man; often, you will find that you have a different opinion. How do you disagree without being disagreeable?
Once your leader knows that you are fighting with him then he has the confidence that when you disagree with him (or rather his ideas), you are not fighting against him!
- During those times when both of you share the same view ... show it. Argue your leader's case to the staff.
- But when you disagree with him, argue your case in private, one to one ... not in front of the staff.
Present the potential impact of his idea on the staff and ministry ... stand up for the staff. Don't pour cold water on his ideas; present alternatives. Should your leader decide to go ahead with his original idea, suggest things that must be considered in the implementation.
Notwithstanding the above, if you hear of his idea at the same time as the staff then you should share your views there and then, even when they are different from his but never embarass him.
- Know that he is your appointed leader ... he decides. Your role is to present a different angle and the sentiments in the ministry. He must weigh all these and make a decision; that's his role.
Know that when the leader lays on unnecessary projects, everyone will be unneccessarily stressed and tired out. You can help your leader make wise decisions by providing him with reliable information. One challenge is to know how to keep your leader informed about the status and feelings of the staff without creating resentment or distrust in them. The key is your motivation ... why are you providing your leader with these information?
- Once a decision is made, don't argue any more ... present a united front to the staff. Explain the things from the leader's point of view; present the arguments for his decision. You need wisdom to know what you can share, what you can't.
- Help implement your leader's decision; in other words, help his idea (i.e., him) succeed!
You can be an effective deputy to the extent that you complement the strengths and weaknesses of your leader.
A secondary goal of a deputy is to win the trust of your staff. They must perceive you as their representative ... their voice to present their views and interests to the leader. Are you then a double agent? A two-headed snake? How do you balance this with your primary goal?
The key is to know when to put on which hat. When you are with the staff, you represent the leader but when you are with the leader, you represent the staff. What about when you are with the leader and the staff? Ask, "What is the occasion?" If it is to present a decision then wear the hat as your leader's assistant. If it is for discussion of an idea, be yourself!
As mentioned above, the staff must perceive you as their representative. They must see you in action ... in situations where you are not afraid to speak your mind (even your views are contrary to the leader's). The staff must sense your commitment to them.
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