Initiative Can Be the Mark of a Great Production Leader

Initiative. It’s a BIG word in leadership circles these days. Check out almost any leadership blog or podcast and you can read to your heart’s content. But in production circles, you don’t hear it mentioned nearly as much.

Like many of you, I not only use my initiative to make headway on multiple projects and undertakings simultaneously, but I lead teams who are expected to take initiative in a big way in order to keep our church pushing forward. Sound familiar?

I love that initiative is defined as, “the ability to assess and initiate things independently.” Whoa! Independently? Does this mean by yourself? Meaning I shouldn’t have to come up with a comprehensive running checklist for my team leads to accomplish? You mean it’s actually expected for every team member to be self-motivated? To be self-aware enough to rock their duties WITHOUT me sorting out every single detail for them?

Well…actually, yes. It does mean exactly that.

Even though the definition above reads fine, it needs more clarity to make it applicable to the fraternity of people in black. Here’s a few Andrew-ism’s to broaden this definition a bit:

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

Some may have heard me mention this before:

“You never have to ask permission to take responsibility.”

You better believe it. So many people sit in the cheap seats waiting for someone to invite them to be responsible. Dump this mindset! We should all be constantly looking for ways to absorb responsibility. This doesn’t just help push the team forward but it takes weight off the leader.

I’ve got news for you. The more you can remove from the leader or supervisor’s plate, the better the situation can be for everyone. You stepping up without being asked can give margin to the leader so they can do THEIR job better. This serves everyone: staffer, volunteer, client, church member...see a nifty little trend here?

LEAD UP

Here’s a secret: Your leader may not be smarter than you. Occasionally, I catch an expectation from some that the leader should always be the smartest person in the room. Nada. Do not discount YOUR place on the team.

In most cases, you were brought to the team for your expertise. If the leader already possessed your set of skills, why would you even be needed? It’s okay to have great ideas that originate with you—just learn how and when to bring them up.

One thing to remember: Know your place on the team. We are all on the same team, but NOT co-leaders on the same team. Make sure your thoughts and ideas are working to push the team forward in line with the leader’s vision only. It spells doom if you’re trying to push your own agenda.

HAVE A SOLUTION TO YOUR PROBLEM

It’s no surprise that a major part of a production leader’s task is to help guide the team through a myriad of problems and obstacles. I’m not sure a day goes by that I’m not advised of some issue that requires a decision or reaction.

Here’s the thing though: When you have a problem you’re bringing to the table, have a solution or two ready to suggest. These may not be the final answer but it shows that you are trying to use...wait for it…you got it…INITIATIVE to help push toward an equitable solution. These days I rarely bring up an issue of any kind without having already thought through a few potential solutions. I greatly encourage and EXPECT this from our teams.

GET OFF YOUR BUTT

Be ready to gain some ground! To me, initiative means arriving ready to tackle the task at hand. Be ready. Be prepared. When the coach looks at the sideline, who is he more apt to throw into a key play? The one who is standing up, has an alert posture, and is paying attention to what’s going on? Or the one who is seated on the bench with his helmet off and a vacant expression on his face? If you didn’t come to the big game ready to win, it’s time to decide if this is the team you need to be on.

APPRECIATE THE PROCESS

So many people want to skip the process. After 28 years of messing with production in some way or another, I’ve learned you just simply cannot get from A to C by skipping B. There is a process because that’s what gives us a successful strategy. Your leader is most likely working to establish a process that will function without it being attached to an individual person. Never forget that a process is only as good as the buy-in from the team. Initiative is recognizing this and buying in to it.

SHOW YOURSELF APPROVED

In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul counsels Timothy that in order to be a workman God could approve of, he would have to be diligent in his service to God.

It’s a similar thought in church production. Are you there just to be a part of the big show? Or can you take the initiative to maintain the same intensity you have in the “big” room while working a kid’s event? The initiative to rock that kid’s event CAN happen even though you’re mixing in a room that smells of old milk.

Things are going by these days for most of us at a blistering pace. Trying to keep up can be a challenge, making it even more necessary to build a team based largely on everyone taking some kind of personal initiative.

Even though this trait isn’t easily noticed among a technically-minded team, we can challenge the mindset and help make some progress. You never know, you may challenge the most mild-mannered tech operative on your team with some true measurables like these and they could be your next great leader.

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Andrew Stone
Production Manager
Andrew Stone is the Production Manager and Audio Director at Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK. His 27 years of touring experience have brought a unique, and sometimes unorthodox, perspective to his approach towards production in the church. He has been a key part of changing the culture behind COTM's live events and he loves sharing his knowledge with other churches. He's been married for 20 years, rarely wears anything but black, and genuinely loves to rock. You can find him on Twitter (@stone_rocks), Instagram (stone.rocks), and is a blog contributor on Seeds, COTM's free resource site.
@stone_rocks