Pastors and churches are always clamoring for leaders. “I can’t get anyone to do anything. “We need leaders.” “How do I train leaders?” “It’s hard to get people to join boards or committees.”
Have you heard this stuff before? Right. Now what do we do?
First, while there are many very helpful definitions for leadership, at it’s core though, leadership is about taking responsibility and creating change. I often provide the book, Leadership Coaching by Tony Stoltzfus when I lead coach training events. Stoltzfus says, “A leader is someone who sees a problem and says, ‘someone needs to do something about that, and I’m that someone.’” In this way they enter into a leadership posture. They are taking responsibility. Also related to this is the truth that the capacity that someone has for leadership is directly related to their capacity to take responsibility. Notice this has nothing to do with positional power. Notice also that taking responsibility, no matter how small, is the starting place. From there people grow in taking larger and larger portions of responsibility. We see it all the time as people are promoted at work or even as children grow from infants to adulthood and move out on their own.
So a critical place to start in empowering others is by asking ourselves some very simple yet profound questions:
- What am I doing that takes responsibility away from people? (Are you sure? Think about that again. A related question is: How am I creating a dependency upon me? Why or why not? What am I getting out of that? What's that about?)
- What can I do to introduce people to noticing problems? (Does that make you squirm? Why or why not?!)
- What can I do to help people to take responsibility for those problems? (What just happened inside of you when you read that one? What was that about?)
- How can I find, invent, create, small first step places for people to take responsibility?
- How can I best support people who take on these responsibilities, however small?
- How can I help them without relieving them of the responsibility?
- How can I celebrate the results of what they have done, no matter the outcome?
How you answer these questions and what you actually do will have tremendous ramifications.