If you are a leader you already know you can’t lead well without sharing leadership with those you lead. Call it delegation, engagement or empowerment but learn to do it as quickly as possible. Simply put, when a church refuses to engage new leaders, that church has already begun to die and ultimately the leaders it has will burnout or leave.
Even though we see clear evidence of Jesus empowering His disciples and we have read a half a dozen books by John Maxwell telling us to do it, most of us still struggle to do so. Can we just be honest? It is often hard to hand significant leadership responsibility and authority over to leaders who may do the work differently than we would or worse yet might fail.
Leaders who share leadership well:
- Learn to manage their own insecurities. We know that sharing leadership with others involves risk of the unknown. It likely means things will look and feel different. If you’re the kind of leader that insists everything has to be done just the way you would do it, those you lead will spend their time and energy trying to figure out how you would do their job. This produces bored and fearful staff members who eventually become toxic.
We all face days when our confidence is shaken. And we limit our own effectiveness by not managing pride and fear as it relates to the performance of others. It is ok if others get credit for a job well done. Leaders who are confident in their role are able to authentically elevate others.
The people at the top of the organization have the most power to make the people around them feel safe. When people grow and develop under your leadership it is a compliment to your heart and skills as a leader. Delegating may be the most unglamorous part of leadership but it holds the most power.
- Learn to handoff both responsibility and authority. Most people are not looking for the easy way out. They are looking for a challenge to rise up to. Learn to tap into their desire to make a contribution and not simply your desire to get something done through them and you win their heart and creativity.
Good leaders make people feel they’re at the very heart of what is important. They make people see how they make a difference and are key to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel valuable and that gives their work meaning.
To hand off responsibility and authority well:
- Help people connect emotionally and spiritually with the big picture.
- Show them where and how they fit.
- Clarify what alignment with the organizational mission looks like.
- Provide structures that protect against catastrophic failure.
- Help them see which of their strengths might apply to this opportunity.
- Ask them what comes to mind when they think of taking this responsibility.
- Learn to generate effective feedback loops. Successful empowerment is collaborative. Empowered team members need access to important information like clear boundaries, nonnegotiable policies and goals. They need direction, support and access to you. Updates are very important when team members have been empowered. Team leaders need to keep their finger on the pulse of the organization through what those around them are doing.
Team members who balk at giving updates are actually sending warning signals about danger ahead. Empowerment isn’t permission to do whatever you want. Good leaders stay involved and supportive without meddling unnecessarily by providing short-term goals that give daily direction and celebrating progress through small wins.
- Learn to hire or enlist leaders with whom they are willing to share leadership. Sharing your leadership with people who don’t possess the character and ability to lead is irresponsible. The goal is to enlist people who share an unswerving alignment with your values, mission, and vision. And then equipping them to do the job that is needed.
We actually see this pattern in the gospel. In Matthew 4:18 Jesus invites four fishermen to walk with Him and to learn to fish for men. This simple invitation became the reorientation of their lives that positioned them to accept the ultimate empowerment of Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8.
What are the enemies of empowerment in your life?
What have you learned about the challenges and success of delegating?