Nothing frustrates leaders more than not letting them lead. This doesn’t mean letting your high capacity people do anything they want, but they need to lead. In fact, if you don’t let them lead, they will begin to resist your leadership, and eventually leave.

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Fear and insecurity are among the top reasons leaders don’t empower others on their team to lead. Fear and insecurity in small dosages, in different seasons and circumstances, is normal for all leaders. But when it begins to creep up in scope and intensity, the resulting internal pressure often causes leaders to attempt to control people and circumstances. Pressure can cause you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do, including control, and trying to control the leaders around you never works in a healthy environment. (Not only does it not work, it’s exhausting.)

In nearly every organization I’ve coached there is a corresponding relationship between training and control.

  • If there is more control, there is less training.
  • If there is more training, there is less control.

More Training, Less Control

Here’s how it works. The more you train your leaders, the less you need to control them. The less you train your leaders the more you may feel the need to control them. Now let me ask, how well does control really work?

Think of it like parenting. If you trained your kids at a young age, you don’t need to control them. But if you didn’t train them, by the time they are teenagers it’s too late. They can be out of control. You can attempt to control them, but it doesn’t work.

No one wants to follow a controlling leader. And everyone loves to be on a team where the leader trusts and trains for the desired outcome of empowered leadership.

Equipping or Developing Leaders?

Training is an umbrella term that includes both equipping and developing. This is essentially the difference between the two:

  • Equipping is training people to accomplish a specific leadership or ministry task.
  • Developing is training (investing in) people for their personal growth that impacts the larger scope of their life and leadership.

Both equipping and developing are needed and important. They are both good! It’s significant to note however, that equipping usually emphasizes the church’s growth, and development focuses on the person’s growth.

For example: you can gather seven ushers and EQUIP them in basic skills from how to take an offering, first aid, and CPR. You can gather the same seven ushers and DEVELOP them with principles and practices that contribute to the larger scope of their personal and professional success and wellbeing. (The topic of “how to usher” probably never comes up!)

Of course there is a blend and blur between equipping and developing, but it’s important to differentiate between the two. If you don’t, the default is always equipping.

Through equipping you can build a good, even large church. Through development you can build a great church! Equipping builds great individual contributors, developing produces leaders who can lead through others. Developing empowers people to lead in such a way that increases the capacity and potential of your church because it increases the capacity and potential of the leaders!

True & Consistent Empowerment

Equipping and developing (primarily developing) sets the stage for empowerment. And it is only through true and consistent empowerment that your leaders can actually lead.

There are five elements to effective empowerment:

  1. Trust with responsibility.
  2. Train for competency.
  3. Unleash with authority.
  4. Communicate clear expectations.
  5. Love and believe in each one for maximum results.

I’ll return to these five elements of empowerment and develop them further, in a future post. But for now, I trust these thoughts are helpful to you and you are even more fired up about your leaders truly leading!