When it comes to leading people, it’s helpful to think about two aspects of every leadership conversation…
First, there’s the (horizontal) aspect; who makes the decision at the end of this conversation? Is the final decision way over on your side as the leader, or is it way over on the team member’s side? Or do you want the decision to be somewhere in between?
Second, there’s the (vertical) aspect; how much discussion takes place between you and the team member? You might have heaps of discussion about an idea or option, or you might have very little discussion at all.
The diagram below presents four possible alternatives when leading. We call them the four leadership styles. They follow a particular path where the more you want a mutual decision, the more discussion is required.
It’s about making sure good decisions get made.
If you’re the leader, you’re probably making loads of decisions. But if you were to grow, you couldn’t sustain being the decision maker for all those things. There would be even more things.
So it’s not just about making good decisions – it’s about making sure good decisions get made when you’re not in the room.
So start now with the decisions you are making, and ask yourself what are the principles and guidelines that shape HOW you’re going to make that decision. Then, get someone else, tell the the principles and the issue and see if they would make a good decision or not.
Start deliberately delegating decisions and the principles to guide them.
If you’re going to ask someone to take on a responsibility, make it short. Not the responsibility… but the “ask”.
If you make the “ask” long and wordy, it will communicate that this task you’re offering them is so huge, so massive, so immense, that you have to take a long time to ask them. Instead, make it short.
“Hey Bill, could you lead a growth group night in a few weeks?”
Don’t say anything else. Just stop there. Let them answer. If they say no, that’s fine, all the words in the world probably wouldn’t have changed their mind anyway.
If they say, “Maybe” you can ask them what their concerns are, and you can address those concerns.
If they say yes, you can then go through the details they need to know.
If you make the ask BIG, then you’ll only freak them out by the apparent BIGNESS of the task.
This is a really important question to consider as a leader. When something doesn’t go to plan, after you’ve planned it, and delegated it… what’s the problem? Where do you go for answers about what went wrong?
The only question to ask yourself (as the leader) is, “How well did my team understand what I wanted?”
Please note, this is not “How clearly did I communicate it?” or “How many times did I explain it to them?”. It’s a consideration of how much they actually understood it… how clearly were they able to verbalise it back to you?
Regardless of how many times they’ve heard it, if their version of the expected outcomes is not the same as your version… it’s not a outcomes problem, it’s a leadership communication problem.
Leading, delegating, starting, serving… they all require a little bit of dreaming. Sometimes, they require a lot of dreaming.
What would you LOVE to see happen… don’t worry about “how” it will happen just yet… just imagine.
What would you love to see them do when you give them this responsibility? What are they dreaming it will look like? Is their dream big enough? Or is it bigger than your dream?
If you’re encouraging people to join with you in serving Jesus, do they have a big enough dream about what could be?
If you’re in Christian leadership, its your job, your responsibility, to keep asking and encouraging people to give their time and effort to ministry. So much so, that it can feel like every interaction and phone call is a request.
On one hand, you have to be ok with that. If you don’t call people to step up to do the good works God has prepared them to do, there’s a good chance they won’t. Thank God for your role of getting people on the ministry field.
On the other hand, it gives you a great opportunity to surprise people with the opposite. Just call to say hi. Chat. When they ask what you’ve called them about (as they probably will) just say, “No reason. I realised that almost every time we’ve chatted has been about something that needs doing, so I just thought I’d call and say hi. That ok?”
The secular world only cares about motivation; they want motivated people. People with drive and self-persuasion.
But Christians don’t want just motivated people. We want people with specific, godly motivations.
As an example, you could work for something like WorldVision for any number of motivations. They wouldn’t really care what those motivations are – just that you’re motivated.
But just to help do the washing up at church… If you don’t have “responding to Jesus’ love” as part of your motivations, I don’t really want you joining in.