President Harry S. Truman had a small wooden sign on his desk that stated “THE BUCK STOPS HERE”. His desk displayed this sign throughout his administration. It’s a good motto — a motto all leaders should follow. Many interpret this motto not only as a reason to take responsibility of all things that happen in your jurisdiction, but to also hold a death grip on all details. Delegation becomes impossible. Oversight is required. The leader maintains control. This interpretation is the birth of a micro-manager—and nobody likes a micro-manager.
Liz Wiseman, one of the great leadership thinkers of our time, and someone I had the pleasure of interviewing many times, and if you have yet to read Multipliers you are really missing out. Anyway, Liz Wiseman explains a concept that is so vital in leadership thinking. Watch this video and then I’ll elaborate:
How can you find the right size wave as a leader?
There are times when a bishop delegates responsibilities to a counselor in the bishopric and then the bishop can’t help but hold the counselor’s hand (metaphorically) through each step to make sure the counselor doesn’t make a mistake. The minute the bishop sees the counselor headed down the wrong path he springs to the rescue and tells them to do something else because that idea won’t work. Like the example Liz gives in the video, sometimes mother nature has to teach the lesson. Sometimes your direction is not helping but hurting their chance to experience and learn for themselves.
Obviously there will be times when your intervention is necessary, but you first need to ask yourself if you are willing to allow the natural consequence to happen if it mean a deeper lesson will be learned?
Are you willing to allow the counselor to try his idea even though the activity might be boring?
Are you willing to let the primary president select her own primary teachers even though some might lead to a poor choice?
Are you willing to allow Brother Shy to speak in sacrament meeting even though some may fall asleep?
Leaders should not be afraid to allow natural consequences to teach. By allowing those you lead to experience the discouraging consequences, it convinces them much deeper than any verbal persuasion from the leader. Then if things go wrong, you get a chance to show true leadership and still say, “the buck stops here!”
What are you willing to allow happen if it means they will be taught on a deeper level?