Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Delegate or Die!

A good leader learns to focus on what they and only they can and must do as the leader of the team.  Other responsibilities are delegated.  Leaders who do not learn to delegate well are busy, but are they busy doing the right things?  Sadly, the answer is often ‘no.’  Busyness is not the sign of a good leader and can lead to an early demise.

Jesus illustrates this art of delegation in the following two passages.

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’ ”  (Mark 11:1-3  1984 NIV)

So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”  (Mark 14:13-15  1984 NIV)

In both cases Jesus is delegating a task to two members of His leadership team.  Both tasks are important, very important, yet capable of being done by others.  Jesus gives detailed instructions and also helps them with some possible scenario planning should they have to adjust along the way.  In the second example we know that it was Peter and John who were sent on this errand – the leaders of leaders were asked to carry out this very mundane, operational task (see Luke 22:8).

Learning to delegate well will increase a leader’s capacity and create focus on what is truly strategic for that leader to focus on.  It may seem like it takes more time to delegate well instead of just doing it yourself.  Or sometimes we can confuse being a servant to mean that I do it all myself.  Note, Jesus did not say to the Twelve, “Wait here men while I go and get a donkey for me to ride upon.”  Or, “Wait here while I go and prepare the room for our dinner tonight.”

Are you busy?  More importantly, are you busy doing the right things?

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