I had a great phone call today. I have started coaching a high potential second chair leader who is juggling too many balls and spinning too many plates. He is in an environment of expansive growth and his time is in high demand. The problem. . . . . . way too many balls and plates. Such that in a recent staff retreat, the bouncing balls and crashing plates became the focus of the "problems" in the organization. Don't you know he loved going home that night to his wife and expressing to her his frustration.
What happened? The organization grew! He was and is the go to guy so they went to him. Now he is overwhelmed and nearing burn out.
Try another anology-- traffic!
Have you ever been in a traffic jam when you rolled along at 5 miles per hour for twenty minutes? Have you ever thought, "Wow! There must be a bad wreck up there? What could be causing such a back up? I can't wait to see the mangled metal of this one!" To your surprise and disappointment, there was no such wreck. No, the construction crew chose not to post signs about road work and just started narrowing everyone to one lane. Going from three lanes to one in a moments notice isn't all that fun now is it? People get angry, frustrated, and can even get hurt.
This is what can happen if the second chair leader has to have his or her signature on everything. In this type of ministry traffic jam, leaders push initiatives up the line and wait for decisions and approvals. In their waiting, they get tired, angry, even frustrated. The second chair leader feels overwhelmed, under appreciated, and doesn't know how to clear away the bottle neck and traffic jam that is outside of his or her office door.
Sometimes this traffic jam is created by a staff member who isn't pulling their own weight. Other times, it happens because the second chair isn't comfortable giving power away.
My take: Life is too short to have to approve everything. I want to do only that which I can do and empower and inspect that which I am able to delegate and give away. To do this, I have got to be willing to deal with conflict, communicate effectively, and enlist and train other capable people. This too takes time but it will be very rewarding to both the organization and to the people the organization serves. Look for, enlist, train, and use your people. They are your greatest resource!
What do you do to keep the traffic from stacking up too much outside your office door?