It is easier said than done, trust me, I know. But part of our calling as leaders is not to simply call people to do, or worse, do it all ourselves. Instead, we need to inspire, equip and empower people. This means we need to do the foundational work of sharing the authority and responsibility of the vision and mission, not just delegating tasks.
Let me explain: when we can find the right people that get the vision and culture we are building, we can equip and empower them to be released to further that goal as a team. Remember, whether you like it or not, you are not the expert in every regard. Your role is to lead a team, mentor them and release them, not to know or do everything. Find the experts in a particular field or gift, recruit them, give them the tools needed, and release them with both tasks and responsibility, (of course this involves letting go of some authority and control so they can accomplish the goal). This, of course, requires trust and one would hope the people you are building up are trustworthy.
Maybe you think you don’t have the time to invest in people like this. As we saw in the article ‘There Are Only So Many Seconds In The Day” you don’t have the time not to. Maybe one of the reasons why you are burnt out is you are trying to do it all on your own. Maybe you are too scared to share responsibility, or maybe you have a hard time raising the bar for people.
What if you are in a role that primarily leads volunteers? How do you ask people to step it up when they are volunteers? Let me let you in on a little secret: people are dying to be asked to serve in their passions. The key word there is ‘passions’. As leaders, we need to connect people to their passions (what gets the blood flowing and heart beating). In the world of leading volunteers, some people quit because you ask too much of them, while others quit because you don’t challenge them enough. The trick is figuring out which is which, (and the simplest way is to just ask).
I just had one of these conversations with someone recently. They had been serving as a volunteer on one of our teams but had been struggling to find their fit. This person was not sure where they were serving was working and was struggling with telling me. In these situations, many times we can go to the faulty idea that there are only two possibilities. That either we need to push them to stick it through as we are worried about losing a team member, or we allow them to walk away completely because we don’t want to ask too much of them. What usually happens is the same result: disengagement. In the first option, they will usually serve for a while, but due to a mismatch of expectations and their passion/gifting they will eventually quit. Or with the second, because we release them, we may assume they will simply fit somewhere else. But both of these options are missing the greater task at hand, working through what could be.
See, there is a third option: Asking good questions. Take the scenario above, instead of seeing the situation as binary I started to ask some deeper questions. By doing so, we were able to explore what was it about the current role they had that wasn’t working. Was it the team they were a part of? Was it the area or specific role they played? Was there a different department that would be a better fit? What were the underlying influences at hand? After a very short conversation, we realized that it was simply that her giftings and passions were better suited for a different kind of role and, ironically, the role we ended up moving her into had a greater workload and responsibility. But because it better matched her wiring, she was excited about the opportunity and excelled at it. Not only that but it also filled an area that one of our staff was struggling with and wished they had someone to help them. Because I asked some questions and had a conversation looking underneath the surface, we were not only able to find somewhere where this person could thrive in serving but found someone we could trust in taking on a crucial role and in the end enabled that department to go to the next level.
This is what it means to recruit, empower and release. We first need to recruit by ‘giving the ask’ and finding the people who are willing and able. Second, is to empower these people by both matching their passion with what is expected of them and also equipping them with the tools to accomplish the role expected of them and be successful in it. And lastly, release them to do what they are gifted to do and what you ultimately hope they can do. Of course, this last step is the biggest step of trust and means letting go.
Maybe you are not the personality to do that, and that’s alright. But find someone who has that personality and has the know-how, the character, and has gained the right to lead and empower/release that person. See a pattern here? It is the art of inviting people to join the mission and give them enough stake in the game that makes it worthwhile. When you match people with their passions people will thrive because they are wired to do it. Don’t feel guilty about this. Be willing to share the glory and reigns. Remember, you don’t need to be the expert in it all, you simply need to bring the best team together and bring the best out of them to accomplish the mission and vision.
Maybe think about it like this: Give away anything that you don’t need to be doing to others who are passionate about those things, so you can focus on what you are wired to do and what no one else can do. Or as Andy Stanley puts it: “Only do what only you can do”. You would be amazed at how many people are willing to step up when asked.
I have found that the big ask, in front of a large group, rarely works: people need the human touch. I know this fact all too well. I recruited 60+ volunteers in 4 months, simply by asking one person at a time. I got turned down a lot, but I also discovered a lot of people who were excited and gifted and have seen new teams form because of it and in many cases, those no’s turned into yeses when we found what they were passionate about. Remember, people are, in a lot of cases, simply waiting for the ask, or simply needed their questions or concerns answered, directed and given next steps. What do you have to lose? If they say no, you lose nothing. They weren’t volunteering before anyways. But what if they say yes? That could change everything.