As a leader, I need to encourage you to move as far away from being a command and control leader as possible, and become a leader who understands the importance of empowerment. Empower and Release leaders are at the forefront of organizational discovery and there is a reason for it. Empowerment enables trust, freedom, autonomy and a feeling of worth in your direct reports. It also maximizes your time as a leader and allows you to move the organization forward.

One thing I am faithful to do with my leadership team is to have “the talk” and it always sounds something like this.

You are a ten at what you do and it is my job to empower you to do it. You will be your best when you are working in your passion and your strengths. Where you are a ten, I may only be a six… and if I tell you how to do your job, your ten will sink to an eight because of my six. 

However, if you will let me empower you to be the best leader you can be… If you will allow me to release you to your own creativity, you may even work as an eleven. 

Understand this next point. If I release you, you’re going to make mistakes, and that’s OK. I want you to know that I may pull you into my office and we may even have some words,… but out there with our people… I will support your decisions. You can trust that I will support you as a leader.

Now here’s the thing… I demand the same from you. If you feel I have made a mistake in leading you or this organization, I have an open door, let’s talk about it in my office. When we leave my office, we will be united in front of our people and I will be grateful that you had the courage to come to me rather than go to the others. Now get out there and change the world.

Every time I have that talk, I can see a feeling of relief wash over the face of that leader. You see, the leader that can instill trust and empower his or her people early in their relationship, and not destroy that trust by actions, will buy the loyalty, trust and respect of their people. In those very special cases, everybody wins.

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Selecting Gift Appropriate Leaders

Imagine: You are home with your children. Your security is instantly shattered as you awaken to the breaking of a downstairs window. Instantly you mind screams “intruder.” You heart pounds, your mind races, as you think about your children two rooms away. You dial 911 as you listen to footsteps ascending the stairs. You have never felt such fear. You run to your children’s room, grab them, and hide in the closet. Moments later the rescue workers arrive. They are dressed in fireproof suits, air tanks strapped to their backs, hoses in hand. Although they are able to scare the attacker away, they were ill equipped to take him into custody. They had the wrong set of tools, the wrong training. Sure, they were able to knock the attacker down with the water from their hose, but it ruined your house and the attacker got away. You suppose that was a sufficient outcome… You grow concerned, but begin to laugh as you thank the firefighters for rescuing you and notice that your neighbor’s house is on fire and it’s the police department, guns drawn, that is desperately trying to extinguish the flames.

Choosing Leaders Wisely…

The above story illustrates the importance of our spiritual gifts and why we should find out what they are, use them, and enjoy them. Of equal importance, as leaders, we must be aware of the gifts and abilities of our direct reports. Being aware, and practicing our gifts bring an exciting level of contentment to our life. Indeed, it is the use of our gifts that allow God to work through us in powerful and extraordinary ways. The scriptural mandate to be a light in the darkness is not given to use devoid of the means to accomplish it. Father equips each and every believer with the necessary gifts to accomplish the tasks He has placed before them in life. The responsibility then is upon each Christian to identify, hone, practice, and experience the fullness of that gifting. As a leader of your organization, you will sometimes see the gifts that others possess long before they do. Capitalize on that insight.

It is crippling to many organizations that so few of their members have made an effort to identify their spiritual gifts. It is, perhaps, one of the main reasons why the church has lost its impact on society to the degree it has. It is also why so many of our organizations have reached a plateau or are in decline. Organizations grow in dysfunction because members are (with an honorable heart) volunteering to serve the organization in capacities that are not specific to their gifting. Members are responding to presented needs in the organization with the heart to serve, but they should seek to be preemptive not reactive.

In such a scenario, the need is filled by a warm body, not by a specifically gifted person. This usually exasperates the volunteer and the task is completed to a less-than-ideal degree. Mediocrity is killing us! We need to step back a moment. Step back and evaluate why the need was there in the first place. If we have the confidence that Father will supply our every need, we must ask: Why did the need have to be presented? What caused the deficiency?

I understand that what I am about to say will evoke criticism, and I agree that this “ideal” may never be fully realized, but at the same time we need to set our expectations for ourselves as high as possible that we may achieve our utmost for the organization. Here’s what I believe.

“The need was brought to the congregation because someone who had the gifting to meet that need had not yet realized their spiritual gifts or, worse still, refused to fulfill their God-given assignment in the organization.”

Consequently, another member of the congregation (someone less qualified) stepped up to fill the deficiency. It’s that simple. The church needs to return to effectiveness and clarity of purpose and such an endeavor begins with the individual pursuit and use of ones spiritual gifting.

If you lead your organization, administer a spiritual gifts test to all of your direct reports immediately. Then, assign, re-assign, or remove responsibilities accordingly. That grouch you have in charge of hospitality… really needs to go!