One of the things about leadership is that they have the authority to speak into the affairs of others. This can be helpful if they do it judiciously. However, when a leader gets out of their lane and into areas that are the responsibility of others; go around supervisors to give direction; micromanage the work of others or get into areas that are not in their skill set they hurt the organization they are leading.

Leaders have a lane just like others in the organization and they are most effective when they stay in their lane. Many leaders, however, believe that everything that happens is their responsibility (bad assumption) so they feel compelled to poke into the work and strategies of others (bad behavior) and in doing so cause problems for the staff and therefor the organization.

It takes some careful thought to determine what one's lane is, especially in leadership where our authority gives us options. Many of those options are not good options, however, because they do not fit our unique skill set. We need to determine the specific work we will do as leaders given our wiring and the team we have around us. Often other team members can speak into the answer through their observations of what we do well and what we do poorly. Of course this only works if we are willing to listen to feedback about our best play.

I once did a staff audit of a church and almost to a person they pointed to their senior pastoral leader as the one who caused the most dysfunction on staff. He was a great preacher and therefor thought he was good at everything. Actually, he created a highly toxic workplace because he refused to stay in his lane or to listen to his senior staff or board about how he disempowered others. The result was a major exodus of key staff members that was unnecessary had he listened and been disciplined to stay in the lane he was made for.

One of the reasons that leaders are apt to stray from their lane is that they have seen success in some area and assume that they will be successful in other lanes as well. Unfortunately that is a poor assumption. We are generally successful at two or three things that define our lane and much poorer at everything else. Those things that are not strengths (we each have a few strengths) are weaknesses (of which we all have many). Learning to stay in our strengths and out of our weaknesses is a key to great leadership.

In my own leadership, it was often the people around me who were best at helping me understand my strengths and my lane. As a leader of a large organization, we talked openly about the unique role I could play and then empowered members of a senior team to play their unique role. Even as the senior leader, I had a lane and we were most successful when I stayed in that lane.

Helping individuals and organizations go to the next level

  • Jul 24, 2019
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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