When I lived in Fresno, I had a coffee with a buddy of mine, Gary Molander. Gary is a man who wears several hats.
He is the founder and co-owner of Floodgate Productions & Floodgate Creative. He is also the founder and President of The Floodgate Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds community restoration projects in El Salvador. Gary is also a musician & worship leader, previously serving on staff at a few churches. His life & experience make him a blessing to know and receive counsel from.
As we talked over some bagels and coffee, we talked about life, ministry, and leadership. He said something that I hadn’t thought of before. What he said has stuck with me since that conversation and changed the way I lead people. Basically, Gary said that he gives his team two key things when we asks them to take lead on projects: Authority & Responsibility.
Authority & Responsibility
He went on to say that you have to have both to be an effective leader. Having one without the other causes problems and an unhealthy culture on any project. Lets take a look at what happens when you only have one or the other.
Lets say you’re taking the lead on an art project for a new banner. In this instance, your boss has told you that this project will reflect solely on you but you need to let the other teammates make all decisions. To be clear, you can accept all responsibility for this project, but you don’t have any authority to make decisions about it.
Frustrating, eh? Lets look at the flipside of it.
What if you were asked to lead a committee tasked to find the next CEO for your company? You’re told that you can hand pick the candidates and interview whomever you’d like, and you’ll be relieved of any of the weight of the decision afterwards. That is to say, you can do whatever you want, however you want, with no consequences. If we’re being honest about the human condition, you could pick a candidate that fits your preferences or one that promises to put your career over the best interests of the company. How is that good leadership?
Neither of these situations set anyone up to be a good leader. So, when we use delegation, whether we are receiving it or giving it, we should ask for both authority along with the responsibility. Having both keeps them in balance.
The Importance of Balance
The simple trick with balance is to not let one side get heavier than the other.
We need the authority to make decisions that you believe are best for the situation or ministry. It also helps the team to stay focused, knowing who they can look to for direction and vision. Without authority, you have no ability to steer the ship. If you’re the captain, you kinda need the ability to turn the wheel.
We also need the weight of responsibility. Knowing we are responsible for the final product, whether it’s an event or ministry as a whole, we think and work differently. If the giver of delegation keep responsibility on themselves, there is a higher likelihood for them to take control back. Responsibility brings accountability, and accountability is never a bad thing.
Most importantly, in the church world, this responsibility can be translated to knowing that what we do reflects on Christ and His church. This is why we need to be aware of the effects of our decisions and receive both the authority & responsibility that should come with delegation in leadership.
These two things need to work symbiotically to have effective delegation. I think that what lies at the center of this issue is trust. The one giving delegation needs to trust the one receiving it. If there is real trust, then authority and responsibility will be given freely.
The bottom line is this: Trust is the catalyst that allows delegation to be effective.