Leadership can be an intricate dance, a delicate ebb and flow if you will. There are times when you carry the weight of the team, and there are times when you need support from your team. There are times when you speak on behalf of the team, and there are times when you let someone on your team with greater expertise speak. There are times when you take the lead, and there are times when you motivate others to lead. There are times when you possess the knowledge to achieve a task, but you must take a backseat so someone on your team can sharpen their skills.
While reading an article by an executive pastor who is responsible for developing and equipping dozens of ministry leaders, I paused at this one point: “You have to be able to lead leaders and also give leadership away so others can grow.”
Two years ago, my manager asked me to establish a working group to tackle one of our office’s most challenging issues. My initial thought was, “Oh my gosh. You want ME to LEAD people and devise ways to tackle THIS HUGE issue! And how do you suggest I do this exactly?” But I said, “Sure, what’s your vision for the group?” After he left my cubicle I thought, “What the heck did I just sign up for?!” As I prayed and asked God for strategies, He gave me step by step instructions as to how to go about this, and our working group not only became known throughout the bureau for our expertise on this subject while also collaborating with other government agencies to address this problem. . Through this project, I greatly developed my leadership ability and discovered that I was indeed capable of successfully tackling seemingly huge tasks. I especially learned that being a leader does not necessarily mean that you have to have all of the answers. It is important to have brainstorming sessions that help you draw on the expertise and innovation of everyone in the group – this often produces solutions that one person could never develop on his or her own. But I never would have developed these leadership skills had my manager taken on this project himself instead of offering me this opportunity.
People not only need to see a leader doing, but they also need to have projects that allow them to develop professionally. People need to feel that they are making valuable contributions so that they have a personal stake in the success of an organization. Delegating responsibility not only helps your team develop their skills, but it also frees up leaders to handle other things so the group as a whole gets more accomplished.
Some people try to handle everything on their own, because they think that’s what a good leader does. Not so. Good leaders develop others. Still, some people do everything themselves because they think others won’t do it as well as they can or because they are afraid to relinquish control. If you feel as if you have to do everything yourself, you will end up with an underdeveloped team.
This principal transcends the four walls of the workplace. The same holds true for families. As parents, are you doing everything around the house, or are you training your toddlers to pick up their own toys? As pastors, are you handling all of the church business yourself, or are you allowing ministers on your staff to lead certain ministries so they can develop their leadership skills? As husbands, are you doing everything on your own, or are you tapping into the skills and abilities that your wife brings to the table? If not, remember that two is better than one. As wives, are you allowing your husband to help you when he offers, or are you shutting down his offers because you think you do it better, all the while being overwhelmed by your massive to-do list?
This week, let us take the time to assess the talents and abilities of those around us and inquire about their goals and desires, whether it’s an employee, an intern in your office, your spouse, or your kids. Once you do this, review what is on your to-do list that others can help you with, especially if it’s something that will help them develop in a desired area. As we lead, let’s also give leadership away for the benefit of others.