A servant leader’s primary responsibility is to build leaders. It is often easy to think we are serving others by providing them answers or just doing their work. Sometimes that can even be the most efficient way to get things done. But by doing so, you are actually delaying progress in your team’s development, and heaping more responsibility on yourself. Therefore you are severely limiting progress.
To maximize your team’s effectiveness it is important to develop their skills, collaborate with them, and delegate responsibility.
I think we can learn a lot from looking at how Jesus led his team and the profound impact it had. In the early days of Jesus’ ministry, he taught his leaders and just asked them to watch him do the work. He was training. (Luke 6:12-49) He later asked them to not only watch him but start helping with the work as well. (Mark 8:1-9) As they became more proficient he asked them to do the work and report back to him to review their progress together. (Luke 9:1-6 & 10) And lastly, Jesus went away permanently and turned over full responsibility to his team of leaders for them to do the work. (Mark 16:15-20)
A coaching client summed up Jesus’ leadership process so well:
Watch me, help me, report back to me, you got this!
Jesus worked through this cycle in a matter of 3 years. No matter your religious beliefs, you can’t deny the impact of Jesus’ leadership. He started with a leadership team of 12, which has now grown to over 2.0 billion. That would not have happened if He had taken it upon himself to do all the work. He knew he had to build leaders in order to most effectively spread the word of Christianity.
There are certain things that only you as the leader can do. These are tasks and responsibilities that cannot be delegated. Examples of this might be:
- Ensuring the Foundation (Purpose / Vision / Values) of the team you are leading is established and well-communicated on a consistent basis.
- Walking the floor and interacting to stay connected with people and what is truly going on within the organization.
- Establishing expectations for team members, providing feedback on those expectations, and coaching where necessary.
- Actively recognizing great work and values
- Building leaders!
There are significant advantages to focusing on building leaders and not trying to do all the work yourself:
- Energy will rise as team members build their skill and competency. They will feel valued and appreciated as they are allowed to take on more responsibility and are recognized for their work.
- Performance will improve as the work is spread out capitalizing on everyone’s strengths on the team. There will be decreased delays for those waiting on you to make decisions or take actions. There will be increased time for you to work on those things you are responsible for such as visioning, strategic planning, and coaching.
- Relationships will be enhanced as collaboration increases and people work closely together to accomplish the goals. It’s really fun to win as a team – Witness Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Victory!
- Your personal Character will be elevated, as you trust in others with important work.
I encourage you to look for ways that you can serve others and your organization by offloading as much of your work as possible to build leaders. The quality of your life will improve, along with the performance of your team members and organization.