How to Fire Yourself (part 2)
This is the second in a two-part series. Read part 1 here.
3. Know the difference between handoffs and hands-off.
Once we’ve identified our successor, we don’t wish them godspeed as we race away from the flaming shrapnel. We maintain close contact as we gradually hand over more responsibility. We don’t simply assign tasks, but we transfer authority.
One wise co-worker often says, “Just because you delegate does not mean you abdicate.” That means we cannot, we must not take our hands off of a ministry area after we’ve given our responsibilities away to others. We continue to check in, advise, and encourage. We continue to challenge them into greater tasks.
A transformational leader knows the difference between a micromanager and a mentor. Rather than posturing ourselves as the Great and Powerful Oz (who actually cowers behind the curtain), we can instead position ourselves as a caring coach (one who is content to let their players shine while shouting encouragement from the sidelines).
4. Skip the second-guessing.
Few things are more demoralizing to a new leader than being given a role, but then having that role undermined at every turn. The reality is, new leaders are going to foul up, miss the mark, and fall short of the standards you’ve dreamed up for them.
That’s not the sign of a bad leader, but a growing one. And when the foul ups happen, those of us who relegated the authority have a chance to also relegate trust. We don’t serve our people well when we subvert or sabotage them. How much better to work together to perform a postmortem after something goes wrong, and coach them back to success?
We also must realize that many new leaders won’t do it as well as we envision the first time out of the gates. That’s not a bad thing. But you can’t grow them if you gut them before they get started. Remember that when you hand something off, you do more than replace yourself. That task becomes a new thing as your replacement follows the nudging of the Spirit into new areas.
5. You do what you do.
Let’s go full-circle. While it’s true that many leaders try to own too much, it’s also true that there are certain tasks that we must own. It would be both inappropriate and unwise to push some things to other members of our team.
Leaders should be the chief visionaries. They’re not the only visionaries, but they should be the primary champion of the big win of their team. In his book The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley says that we should learn to spend the majority of our time “at the thirty-thousand-foot level while remaining accessible to team members who [are] closer to the action.”
So here’s the question: what do you do that only you can do? What are the things that are wins for your organization and wins for your time, talent, and bandwidth? Finding the nexus where those things meet means finding your sweet spot, the place where you should be spending your time.
Leaders, it’s time that we work ourselves out of a job. Who are you raising up today?
I originally wrote this article for the April 2018 issue of Facts & Trends magazine.