If you are a leader or supervisor, you have responsibility for others. The question is how we use that responsibility. Our approach will have significant implications for the culture we create in our organization or team, as well as the engagement we get from our staff.
Many leaders feel it is their duty to manage other people. By that, they see themselves as managing what people do, how they do it and the strategies they use. But think about this: do you like to be managed closely? Or do you like the freedom to be given a task and figure out how to accomplish it using your gifts and abilities? In the ministry world, there is a whole lot of micromanagement rather than true leadership.
Leadership is the ability to clarify goals, set a course, choose the right people to accomplish the mission, and, within appropriate boundaries, set staff free to go after the goal. This does not mean that there is a hands-off attitude, but it does mean that we empower the right people to figure out the route to the goal and give them the freedom to do the job.
If we need to manage the process closely, it usually means that we either have the wrong people, have not adequately clarified the task and the boundaries, or have a need to insert ourselves and our ideas where they don't belong. It is a permission-withholding attitude (you cannot do this without my permission) rather than a permission-granting attitude (you are free within boundaries to figure it out). Your best staff will always prefer the latter to the former.
Clarity of goals, roles, and boundaries are key to leading well. And the ability and willingness to empower people to fulfill their unique responsibilities. Responsibility without empowerment is demoralizing, yet it happens all the time. It is not good leadership, and it does not result in happy, healthy staff. Empowerment is harder because it requires us to clarify as leaders. Our job is to clarify and then empower if we lead staff. Leaders always need to be conscious of whether they are managing staff or leading staff.
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