As we partner with churches and organizations to help them build their best teams, we often hear similar criteria for potential candidates. The inevitable questions that many churches ask are: How big of an environment did this candidate work in previously? In our search for quality candidates, is it possible that we’re asking the wrong question? Does the size and scope of a previous ministry matter to this hire?
While scope of work is important, it shouldn’t tell the whole story of a candidate. Instead, the question should be: What is his/her leadership capacity? We’ve seen candidates from smaller churches who could easily handle a much larger scope of work, as well as candidates from larger organizations and aren’t equipped for broader responsibility.
Here are a few things to remember when evaluating a candidate’s past work experiences.
1. Principles and systems can be replicated.
If a candidate comes from a smaller context but has put clear systems, growth engines, and volunteer teams in place, there is no reason he/she couldn’t replicate this in a larger environment with additional resources. Chances are, this person may already be looking for the opportunity to use these systems in a bigger context.
A candidate who has already adopted successful principles and systems is likely to simply mirror these in his/her next role. Likely, these would be even more finely tuned the second time around.
2. Leadership is leadership.
No matter the scope, if a candidate has previously driven growth, created a culture that keeps volunteers and staff happy, and appears to have top-notch qualities, he/she is primed for a leadership position.
Leadership can take on many forms, but a leader will always lead.
Solely looking at the size of the organization a candidate has worked with in the past is a detriment to the search and could cost you some quality candidates.
3. Competence swims at any depth.
If a candidate is coming from a church of 500 and stepping into a church of 5,000, there will inevitably be some growing pains, or perhaps a short season of adjustment and figuring out how to navigate the waters. However, the fear of hiring someone from a smaller background that is also clearly competent shouldn’t exist. Despite what a candidate has come from, competence swims in any depth of water.
Here at Vanderbloemen, some attributes we look for in a quality candidate are “fit” (would they mesh well with the current team?) and “capacity” (do they have a track record of leadership combined with the potential for future growth?) These are both areas that almost always have nothing to do with a candidate’s past scope of work.
When looking for a new staff member, remove the question of scope and ask more questions that explore capacity. You might find the leader you’ve been looking for in the place you least expected.
This article was provided by our church executive search partner, Vanderbloemen Search Group. To learn more about Vanderbloemen Search Group's recruiting services and how they can help you fill your open position, click here.