By Chuck Peters
Delegation is an art that many leaders struggle to master. Many who lead in small to midsize organizations—and certainly those leading start-ups—tend to default to leading from an entrepreneurial posture.
In these settings the top-level leader does much of the work him/herself and is involved in every decision, no matter how small. In many cases there’s no one to whom they can delegate.
The CEO or senior pastor is the sole possessor of the vision required to execute with any measure of accuracy and excellence.
While this DIY approach is essential when organizations are new and small, it’s necessary for one’s leadership style to adapt as the organization expands.
Problems occur and organizational growth is stunted if the leader is unwilling or unable to transfer his/her values to capable persons and hand off delegable tasks and empowering them to act.
In larger organizations or churches, leaders may be tempted to hold on to tasks in an effort to protect and preserve their positions. “If someone else can do my work, am I really needed?” The answer is emphatically, yes!
The best leaders do more than complete tasks. Great leaders create leaders.
Here’s a simple five-step strategy to help you empower others so you can grow your ministry role.
Step 1: Initiate Goals
Leaders need to identify and establish clear goals for their team(s), including which tasks that leader must retain and which he/she should hand off to a capable teammate.
It’s the leader’s job to keep important tasks and initiatives front and center. Set priorities. Raise the bar. Clear the way. All delegation must begin with the leader initiating action.
It’s important to note that a leader cannot delegate important tasks to unqualified persons. The leader must delegate appropriate tasks to people who are qualified to handle them.
Step 2: Formulate Strategy
Leaders need to work with their team(s) to lay out a roadmap that frames and names success.
Identify sequences, action steps, milestones, and landmarks for the team that helps them know whether they’re on the right track.
This may include documenting and explaining processes and providing detailed checklists to make sure the delegate understands everything necessary to complete the task.
Step 3: Communicate Expectations
Leaders need to articulate expectations for the team. Speed, quality, cost, reporting/communication, accountability, and deliverables need to be clearly defined and understood.
Communicating expectations is the onus of the leader. Make them realistic, attainable and sustainable. Include the expectation of communication.
It’s important to build in a feedback loop so that problems and progress are regularly reported upline so you know what’s happening.
Step 4: Delegate Responsibility
Leaders need to authorize and empower qualified people to own projects, take action, and make decisions without encumbrance.
The purpose of delegation is for leaders to release work to others so that tasks can be accomplished without the constant, direct, personal involvement of the leader.
Letting go is one of the most difficult things for self-made, hands-on, entrepreneurial leaders to do, but it is absolutely necessary to grow an organization.
Step 5: Elevate Thinking
Once a task or project has been delegated, the leader has to repurpose his/her time in a way that allows them to function at a higher level. Delegation enables leaders to raise their thinking.
One of the goals for the top-level leader is to stop functioning in the urgent/immediate (a mode often characterized as reactive panic) and start functioning in the important/future (characterized by proactive planning) so they can continually look ahead to identify new vision and direction.
Delegation is for the purpose of replication, multiplication, and expansion. As leaders we must always strive to see and think and operate on increasingly higher levels.
The secret to scaling any organization, no matter what the size, is for leaders to develop the discipline that allows them to continually delegate and elevate.
CHUCK PETERS (@_chuckpeters) is director of operations for LifeWay Kids. He is a graduate of Columbia Bible College. A creative person by nature, Chuck’s unique combination of leadership experience in media production, business, and ministry has caused him to become an unexpected fan of leadership, strategy, data, and analysis in ministry. He lives outside Nashville with his wife and four kids.