Leading Up: Get Your Ideas Across


Leading up is a many-faceted art required of all leaders. Learn how to present ideas and approach leaders in this message.

Having passion for your idea isn’t enough. You have to win your leaders. Leading up is a many-faceted art required of all leaders. You may be the senior pastor reporting to the board, or the newest member on staff and it feels like you report to everyone. No matter where you are on the team, getting your ideas to become reality is complex.

It may seem like the ideas and requests of the loudest person with the biggest personality in the room always seems to win, but I can assure you there is an approach that is more effective over the long run.

Here’s a better way to get your idea across:

1) Think it through.

Know with precision what you want to accomplish or what you need and why. It needs to show the value to the organization, not just the value to you personally. If it’s a ministry idea, for example, think through all the elements. Be clear on everything from resources to timelines. Think through ROI.

  • Will the outcome be worth or greater than the expense of time, energy and money?
  • Why do you want to do this?
  • Or why do you need this piece of equipment?
  • A critical question to ask yourself is – “Is there another way?” There are likely other ways to do this. Why is this solution the best?

2) Write it clearly.

Passion is important, but a plan is more powerful. A written plan represents your refined thoughts on paper. If you want someone to read it, make your proposal one page. If asked for more, you can write more later. It’s okay to take a little more space or add attachments. If you add photos, don’t include a twenty minute slide slow.

  • Be sure that your written plan is clear.
  • Remove the fluff.
  • Use bullets over lengthy paragraphs with flowery language.
  • Have a friend test read it.
  • If they don’t immediately understand exactly what you are saying, write it again until they do.

3) Present it well.

Get the right people in the room. You don’t need a lot of time, but you do need the right timing and the right people.

Don’t plead your case with passion hoping to “win”. Communicate in a levelheaded manner demonstrating a calm inner confidence. Be sure that your idea or request is not just to make things different, but make things better.

Be clear and concise, hand out your one page and stick to it. Take a few minutes to answer questions then close it out asking if more time or info is needed or if a decision can be made.

I realize this seems very formal for many church staff situations. Make it relationally fit your culture, but these guidelines will be helpful.

4) Lay it down.

Remember you are on the team to serve, not to win. The person you want an approval from faces pressures you aren’t aware of. You will gain much more respect and favor in the future if you take a “no” with genuine maturity. It’s unrealistic to get a “yes” every time.

Take it in stride, remain committed to the team and bring your next idea at the right time. Each time you get a yes, it’s important that you deliver the results you promised!


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