Component #5 – Give challenging assignments that will stretch the potential leaders capacity.
I was talking with a father who told me he taught his five year old to swim by throwing him into a pool. I responded, “You’ve got to be joking?” He wasn’t! He told me, “It was sink or swim and the boy learned to swim really quickly.”
Although it’s very common, I don’t advocate the “sink or swim” method of training leaders. How often have you heard about someone being thrown into a volunteer position with no training? To be honest many people have been trained this way, but many more have “drown” because of this method.
Jesus was very careful and strategic about giving his disciples hands on assignments. At just the right times he would give developmentally appropriate challenges that would stretch their capacity. After doing several tours of duty with Jesus he gave seventy of his disciples an assignment to go out in pairs and spread the gospel. In Luke 10 he told them where to go, what to do, what to say and how to handle certain situations. Afterwards he was there to debrief the entire experience with them.
An effective leadership development strategy provides challenging assignments that will stretch the potential leader’s capacity. However, we must follow the right process for this to be most effective. It requires…
- Modeling – Let them watch someone else
- Instruction – Tell them how
- Assignments – Give them the opportunity to try
- Debrief – Talk to them about what they did well and what they could do better next time.
Think about the ministry areas where you need to grow leaders. Plan the sequential assignments a trainee needs to experience in order to be fully equipped. Next match them with a mentor who could model and teach them the necessary skills. Then have that mentor observe the developing leader in action and give them feedback. This process, matched with appropriate assignments will give your leaders the experience and confidence they need to lead well.
At this point you may be thinking, “Boy, that sounds like a lot of work.” I have never said that leadership development was easy…leadership development is a discipline that takes work.
Are your developing leaders in a “sink or swim” situation or are you giving them intentional assignments that are stretching their leadership capacity?