We work hard and play hard on the 12Stone team. We laugh easy and consider sarcasm a spiritual gift. Diane Heller, our senior pastor’s executive assistant, and I were kidding around one day and she said to me, “Hey Dan, get out of the details!” I volleyed right back saying, “If you don’t want to know what I think, don’t ask me, I always have an opinion!” We laughed, and so did the others listening in on our friendly banter!
It’s true, as a leader I always have an opinion, but I shouldn’t always share it.
Whether it’s a detail that matters, or something I’m passionate about, or the fact that I care; that doesn’t mean I need to insert my influence. Generally, I’m really good about empowering and staying out of the way, but I still have to pay attention to the difference between influencing at the right times and what might be interfering unnecessarily.
That’s an art for all of us as leaders to learn and keep learning. It’s very subjective. You might think you are leveraging appropriate influence and others might think you are interfering with something they have been charged to do. So who determines what is the right call in the moment? It may be your privilege to step in, but is it the best and wisest thing to do? Even though we may be held responsible, that doesn’t mean we should jump in.
Over the years, I’ve developed a quick set of questions to help me determine when to step in and when to hold back. Again, this is a subjective art, not a mechanical science. These questions are not meant to be something for deep pondering and processing, but a quick mental guide in the moment. I’ve practiced this for so long I can run through them mentally in seconds if needed.
Here’s my 5 quick questions:
- Will it succeed without my input?
- Might my participation remove someone’s opportunity for growth?
- Would I slow down or jam up the process by jumping in?
- Might I be communicating lack of trust or lack of confidence?
- Can my time be better used to accomplish other things?
If the answers are “yes” to any of these questions, it’s likely a good moment to hold back, encourage and let the leaders lead!
Like you, there are a number of key responsibilities and times when my influence is vital. But the more I let others lead, the better the leaders and the church become. How about you? Do you know when to influence and when it’s interference?