During this summer, I have been serving full time on a church staff as Executive Pastor. The Senior Pastor is on a much deserved sabbatical, which is a great thing for a church to offer. Since the end of May, I have had the opportunity to reengage being a point leader. While that position can be rewarding, it is also very challenging.
Overall, I have the responsibility to make sure things move forward. This has involved finalizing a personnel handbook, getting raises for staff members, developing and launching a plan for reworking the children’s environment (and the funding to do so), and very quickly relocating all the staff so that the current office building can be torn down. It has been a very busy summer so far!
The most challenging thing is that while I have had great responsibility, I have had limited authority. I can only do what the leaders and members feel was “approved” by the Senior Pastor prior to his time off.
As I work with leaders and managers, I hear a similar dynamic. They are being given tremendous responsibility, but very limited authority. Every decision still has to go through the “boss” for final approval. For them, this is not temporary, but an ongoing way of life. This dynamic robs them of their ability to truly lead, and keeps them looking for opportunities beyond their current position. The “boss” is just trying to make sure things get done the right way, but in the process is slowing down the growth of the leaders and managers around him/her. Ultimately this costs the organization in many ways.
When responsibility is given, authority must be given as well. If you are going to hold someone accountable for getting the job done, give them the ability to make key decisions. They may make mistakes along the way, but they will also have a level of ownership to correct those mistakes. Ultimately, they will have the opportunity to lead and grow in ways they could not under the old system.
And everyone will benefit from that!