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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

07 Mar '13

Gains and losses in leadership

Posted by T.J. Addington in Healthy leaders, influence, leadership


In leadership, no matter the level, most gains come with an unexpected cost - that of loss.

I spoke recently with a senior leader who is struggling with the sense of loss as he relinquishes responsibilities to others so that he can do what he is called to do - be the architect of the ministry. His dilemma is this: unless he relinquishes things he used to do he cannot take the ministry to the next level. But in that relinquishment there is a real sense of loss over things he loves to do and used to do.

There is another factor involved. The activity given up in order to fly at a higher altitude is also activity that gives a sense that one is contributing something significant to the organization. Often, one must give up activity in order to think, envision, coach others and work on taking the organization to the next level of productivity.

In doing less, many senior leaders wonder if they are really contributing something significant anymore. Often internal pressure toward activity causes them to spend time on things that need to be relinquished to others rather than doing it themselves.

One need not be a senior leader to struggle with a sense of loss. Anytime an individual producer takes on a staff member, they must relinquish what was once their activity. When they do not relinquish responsibility they disempower (see prior post). There is always loss with gain. Healthy individuals recognize the loss and are conscious of the internal pressure to keep what needs to be relinquished.

If there is loss in relinquishment, why relinquish what we know we can do and do it well? We do so in order to focus on issues that allow us to grow the ministry. Our desire for missional fulfillment is higher than our desire to keep what we used to do. We take the loss for ministry gain. That is why the senior leader above is struggling through a difficult transition. He is committed to taking his ministry to the next level and in order to do so he needs to relinquish many things he used to do and focus on those things that only he can do as the senior leader of the organization. Mission trumps his discomfort at the loss in the process.