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7 Questions on Leadership with Rod Fisher

Name: Rod Fisher

Title: Reverend

Organisation: The Gap Uniting Church

Rod is the Lead Minister at The Gap Uniting Church, where he has been serving since 2016. He has the privilege of leading and serving alongside a team of volunteer and paid staff, all committed to an ongoing re-imagining of what it means to faithfully lead and grow lifelong disciples of Christ today. Rod is married to Jen, and they have two young adult children.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Rod's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

The most challenging thing is when there is disharmony or dysfunction within a team, leading to someone leaving. This is especially difficult when there may have been something that could've been done (in hindsight) to prevent this from happening. Establishing a healthy, open and honest feedback culture with the team is absolutely essential for ongoing health.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I have always been in various leadership roles since my school days, usually because other adults/mentors encouraged me to be in those positions, and provided ongoing support, even if I weren't conscious of these things at the time. I worked as a highschool teacher for 11 years, where I was forced to be in leadership roles, with classrooms, camps and colleagues. Being encouraged to discern and train for a call to fulltime ministry was another example of being supported by many others. It continues to be an ongoing journey of learning, making many mistakes, and gradually becoming a better leadership for the people and place where I have been planted.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I work best in short bursts. That usually means a short burst of energy in getting ready in the morning, followed by having a relaxed breakfast. Then a burst of energy planning and prioritising the tasks for that day, along with checking in with the key people I need to work with. I try to have a relaxing lunch away from my desk, before another afternoon burst of energy finishing off the less important, but still necessary tasks before heading home. I spend some time unwinding before being as present with my family for dinner as possible. Evenings are variable, depending on meetings, etc.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

Leadership is less about making good things happen, and more about creating the kind of culture which inspires and allows lots of people to make good things happen.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

"Our Iceberg is Melting" by John Kotter. Particularly given my context of congregational ministry, with mostly volunteers who've been in the place for decades, this book is a constant reminder that shifting culture requires consistency, constant communication, good pastoral care, resilience, and a great team of supporters.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Make sure you have a great team of people who will give you open and honest feedback to support you and help you grow.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

"Change happens one conversation at a time." Never underestimate the power of a simple conversation. I remember following up on someone who'd filled out an online connect card with our church after watching our service online. I wasn't going to do that, but something made me think about calling this person I'd never heard of. I ended up leaving a message, as they were unavailable at the time. I met this person about a week later at our Men's fortnightly breakfast group. His opening conversation with me was, "Hi, I'm {name}. Do you realise you saved a life the other day?" He wasn't being 'super-spiritual' but literal. I was completely blown away by the story, and I'd be happy to share it with you if you get in touch.

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