We have all done it, said to ourselves, I’m just going to go ahead and do this task because it’s easier for me to just handle it. Or we might say, Oh, Brother Smith is so busy. Let me do that task for him. I think it’s a natural feeling for those in leadership roles to want to take the best care of their people. We often feel like asking someone to take a task or assignment is in some way unkind. Becoming more comfortable with delegation is just like any skill, it’s learned. Learning to delegate is a skill that takes time and practice. I have found these 3 simple steps extremely helpful.
1. Have Assignments for all Responsibilities
Having assigned responsibilities seems pretty straightforward, right? We all do that, don’t we? The first step a presidency or bishopric should undertake is to determine what tasks or assignments they are responsible for and then go through the process of making assignments for those duties. So, for example, in my Bishopric we’ve decided that the First Counselor would handle Sunday School. Any change, communication, or extending of callings once we have agreed within the Bishopric is totally on his plate. In fact, we have gotten so good at this that I don’t even need to physically make the assignment. He just knows he is responsible for the Sunday School.
2. As the leader, make spiritual and temporal welfare your focus
Making spiritual and temporal welfare your focus is a must for bishops; however, I feel it should be the focus of every auxiliary president as well. If we take step one seriously (assigning all responsibilities), you can assign out all of the other tasks to ensure that spiritual and temporal welfare are your priority. Of course, there are the day to day administrative things that will come up, but make sure you spend as much time as possible ministering rather than administering. If the leader makes this his or her known focus, the rest of the presidency will take assignments and allow you to be successful in this area.
When I got called to be the bishop of my ward we had quite a heavy welfare load. I had no choice but to have my counselors do almost everything outside of welfare. Once I was able to figure out how to best handle it we had gotten into the habit of me mostly focusing on the spiritual and temporal welfare issues. Specifically helping with financial situations, worthiness issues and spiritual guidance. Since then the delegation has been a natural and fluid part of our serving together.
3. Training your replacement
Training someone to do what you do is a very difficult one to master. As stated before, we are busy and taking the time to train someone feels like an impossibility. However, trust that the investment of time will pay off. You will find it usually only takes one or two times to get someone proficient enough to replace your need to do whatever that certain task is. And honestly it’s one of the most satisfying rewards of leadership, some call it training your replacement…
Delegation is a key leadership principle that requires patience and practice. But in the scope of your calling as a leader, your call is to lead, not to do it all. Make assignments, trust in your people, make adjustments or suggestions as necessary, and grow the capacity of the organization over which you preside. It will change your life, as well as theirs.