As I look back over my career and the leaders I have worked for, under, and with, there a critical trait that had a major impact on me and other members of the teams I was engaged with. What was the trait? They were willing to trust others with the mission. They believed that to truly thrive, the organization needed both the talent and vision of others to carry it forward.
Now I understand that this sounds good and even obvious. Yet like many leadership principles it is at once simple and challenging. Simple in the sense we understand that to grow our business, churches, and teams we need help. Difficult in that it requires letting go and taking a risk on others. There are several aspects to this, but this morning I want to focus on something, that if present, will kill pretty much everything else. Leadership insecurity.
A leader must be secure enough in themselves to let go. In many ways it starts and ends here. One of the quickest ways to kill your team is to take great care in hiring talented people and then not empower those people to do what you hired them to do. It is a sure-fire way to get lots and lots of things 80% finished. Letting go of that last 20% is often the key to flourishing.
When I took over my family’s custom home building company my dad genuinely let me take over. It allowed us to grow and diversify. It was perhaps the greatest gift of leadership he gave me. Now there are two sides to this coin. On one side the leader must be secure in their identity and their effectiveness to instill the core values of the organization into others. They must be okay in knowing that things probably won’t always look the same. The other side of the coin is to hire people with enough humility to realize that growth and innovation likely doesn’t mean reinventing everything.
If you are a key leader, entrepreneur, or a leader in a church or non-profit, you must get to the point where you are excited about growth and development instead of being threatened by it. Does this require a willingness to take risks on others? Certainly. But if you aren’t willing to do that you will spend your days micro-managing people, processes, and the perceptions of others: not healthy practices to say the least. Beyond that, you will miss the excitement of celebrating the fact that other people will have ideas as good or even better than your own. This creates a stimulating atmosphere to work in.
A pastor friend of mine shared an insight he read that gets to the core of all this. “Every leader is an interim leader.” That’s right, unless you started your company or church there was a leader before you who laid a foundation. And unless your hope is that your organization ends with your retirement, you too are an interim leader. That perspective can make it possible to enjoy the space in time your leadership occupies and to embrace the satisfaction that comes with preparing others to take your place.
How secure are you in your leadership this morning?
Insecurity in leadership leads to a host of bad decisions and the need to believe things that aren’t true. – From RK, Life/Leadership Axioms
Live on purpose,