Leadership Letters
Leadership Letters

Writings on Christian leadership and leader development by Malcolm Webber

February 2013
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Giving Power Away

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

The following are some of the reasons why leaders might find it hard to give power away:

  1. Failure to plan. To simply recruit someone at the last moment to do something is “dumping,” not delegating. The leader must think ahead, communicate thoroughly and commit to an effective ongoing oversight.
  2. Pride. Of course, we all know that no one else could ever do the job as well as we can! However, the example of Jesus instructs us – He was not too proud to give power away! If Jesus could give power away, then we are not indispensable!
  3. Insecurity. Leaders who are afraid of losing their authority or position will not give power away to others.
  4. Lack of vision. If our vision is limited to our existing four walls, then we will see no need to expand the leadership base. However, if we have a vision for growth and impact, then we know that growth requires leader development and empowerment. Pyramids are made tall by widening their foundations. Spectators become critics; participants become partners.

The benefits of giving power away are significant:

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone… select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain – and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens… That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” (Ex. 18:17-23)

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:2-4)

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Rom. 12:6-8)

He appointed twelve – designating them apostles – that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. (Mark 3:14-15)

Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand… (Lev. 26:8)

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-13)


Necessary Organizational Changes

To fully empower their people, effective leaders will eliminate organizational conditions that foster a sense of powerlessness among the people. Some of these are:

In genuinely empowering his people, the leader will avoid or eliminate such conditions in the organization.

How to Improve

The following are some practical ways that you can improve in this area of leadership:

For more, see Leading: SpiritBuilt Leadership 3 by Malcolm Webber.

LeaderSource SGA was just ranked #62 in the “Large Consulting Groups” category of the “2012 Leadership 500” list produced by Leadership Excellence magazine. This is a ranking of the top organizations involved in leader development. You can download the report here.

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