I have developed some training in the last few years around the whole area of leadership development – for many of the churches I have resourced over the years, this continues to be an area of challenge!
Part of this training touches on delegation which is the focus of this blog post (although, I originally delivered this at “Youth Work the Conference” in 2014).
“Delegation” should be about getting out of the way and giving permission and opportunity for others to thrive but, all to often, it is a dumping ground simply for the stuff we don’t want to do.
A key skill of any leader is delegation. Yet, often, we think being a leader means I need to “do it”. I am not a “one man band”. You might say, “hang on, you run this thing called “The Resource” which is basically just you.”
You would be right. However, I spend a fair amount of my time signposting people / churches / organisations to others who might be a better fit for their needs. This is my sideways delegation, as an overriding thought in my mind is “what or who can add the most value here?”
There are three main reasons we should be delegating ::
// You can’t do something. Tough to acknowledge, but really important. There is stuff we cannot do. So, rather than that thing simply not being done we need to discern who might be the best person to do it. For some of us what prevents this from happening is our pride. “I should be able to do this” we think, we find it hard to acknowledge to ourselves (let alone those in our team) that there is stuff we cannot do. For ministry to thrive we have to get over ourselves and release and equip others – the most obvious thing to do then is look at our own skills and gifts as a leader – be honest about our areas of weakness or the stuff we just don’t get – and find those for whom that area is a strength or they really “get it” in a way we don’t and delegate!
// You can’t do everything. There is only one of you. There are only so many hours in the day – we simply cannot do all that needs to be done. Do we know our limits? This is not about our ability but factors beyond our control – like the amount of time we have and not being able to be in two places at once. We need to know when to ask for help, simply say “I’m not going to get this done, can you help?”
// you can’t do nothing. Sometimes, things happen and we need to adapt and change. If something demands a response or a piece of work, we know we need to do it. Sometimes this can be as much about prevarication as surprises. Don’t put off that looming thing, don’t allow someone else agenda to determine that you simply have to react to what is going on around you and suck it up. Maybe you need to delegate something else, and focus on getting the urgent or important thing done. Or, someone else is best placed to respond quickly when required.
Finally, there is one more reason we need to delegate ::
// because we can. If we are a leader with responsibility for the work and for others, we can choose to involve others and share the load – regardless of whether we could manage it all ourselves or not.
IF we want to inspire and grow a team, give them a reason for turning up and a sense of purpose and motivation – they have to be more than warm bodies making up the numbers so we can “do our thing.”
Leading in a way that means others are disempowered or simply “present” or we wouldn’t be able to lead the children’s work because of the ratio of adults to children requirements is a certain way achieve low morale and high turn over.
PLUS, if we ever leave, move on – who is equipped to take over? What does succession look like if we are the only person who has ever done anything?
Yes, you can delegate by dumping, passing the buck, shifting responsibility – this is just plain lazy and beneath you as a leader. Don’t do it.
Encourage those on your team who can do that something that you can’t.
Be honest with your team when you just can’t manage something.
When you have to react to circumstances or a crisis don’t step up to the plate alone.
Don’t forget that as a leader you can delegate because you have that responsibility and you should be enabling your team to grow by giving opportunity, creating space for their passions and seeing more done because you lead a team and not just yourself.