The bishop of a ward depends heavily on the ward council (or at least should be). Because these are such key rolls in the ward organization replacing them can be a daunting decision. Many times leaders default to the tried and true members that would be able to handle such callings without flinching. Is there ever a time to take a chance on someone’s inexperience and put them to a high responsibility calling such as Relief Society President, Ward Mission Leader, or Young Men’s President?
How important is experience when extending a calling?
In Clay Christensen’s book How Will You Measure Your Life? he discusses this conundrum in terms of hiring employees. He talks about the value of hiring an employee with specific experience in order to have them step in the management roll and be able to lead.
Does that mean that we should never hire or promote an inexperienced manager who had not already learned to do what needs to be done in this assignment? The answer: it depends. In a start-up company where there are no processes in place to get things done, then everything that is done must be done by individual people–resources. In this circumstance, it would be risky to draft someone with no experience to do the job–because in the absence of processes that can guide people, experienced people need to lead. But in established companies where much of the guidance to employees is provided by processes, and is less dependent upon managers with detailed, hands-on experience, then it makes sense to hire or promote someone who needs to learn from experience. (How Will You Measure Your Life? p.149)
So what does your ward better relate to? The start-up company with no processes or the established company with processes? It probably makes more sense to look at it in terms of the calling. Is the Relief Society President calling set up with processes where someone can step in and learn on the job? Many of the callings on the ward council are quite complex and take an established experienced leader to be successful. Thankfully there are many other callings with specific processes that can help develop a leader to someday be the one to step in the ward council and flourish.
Developing the Future Ward Council in Other Callings.
To develop future leaders the bishop should be looking for every opportunity to look past your “starting squad” (the ward council) and looking deeper on the bench to those that don’t get an opportunity for tough assignments. If they are not given an opportunity to experience detailed assignments outside of the ward council they may not be ready when you need them ready.
Imagine the ward council has decided on a summer barbecue in order to invite less-active members to a friendly social. This can be an ambitious task for many. The bishopric may typically assign such an activity to someone on the council like the youth leaders to organize (since we don’t have activities committees). The Young Men’s President would then take the activity head on and buy supplies, reserve buildings, and organize announcements. What if instead of vaguely assigning it to the youth leaders you give them the direction to mentor a specific councilor in the young men’s presidency and have them organize it. The councilor would then be challenged by such an assignment and grow because of it. The young men’s president would be there as a resource to make sure he doesn’t dramatically come up short.
This is just an example of how the bishopric might create a process where people can learn leadership skills. Many of these processes are already built into a calling. The ward mission leader organizes baptisms. The primary instructor organizes lessons on a weekly basis. The ward clerk organizes membership records accurately. As these processes take place they are not as valuable to the individual unless they have a leader that is following up and holding them accountable to their responsibilities. As they are shown their mistakes and encouraged to learn they are quickly becoming the responsible leader you need them to be–future members of the ward council.
This is the second of a series of posts that analyze the thoughts and principles taught in the book How Will You Measure Your Life? Read the previous post HERE.