One of the biggest challenges for any organization is to attract and retain leaders. Leaders are too hard to find, we certainly want to keep leaders on our teams when we have them. Keeping leaders should certainly be a high priority in the church.
I never want to stop someone from pursuing other opportunities, but I don’t want to send them away because I didn’t help them stay.
Previously, I posted reasons leaders tend to leave an organization. (Read that post HERE.) The goal then is to find ways to keep a leader energized to stay with the team – so I thought a companion post was appropriate.
The reality is leaders get restless if they are forced to sit still for long. Good managers are comfortable maintaining progress, but a leader needs to be leading change. In fact, leaders even like a little chaos. Show a real leader a problem ready to be solved and they are energized.
Here are a few suggestions to keep leaders on your team:
Give them an unsolved challenge.
Let them tackle something you’ve never been able to accomplish. (Even tell them you’re not certain it can be done.) Leaders love to do what others said couldn’t be done. Or what no one has figured out yet how to do. Let the leader be a precursor to what’s next for the organization. Let them experiment somewhere you’ve wanted to go, but haven’t tried. They may discover the next big thing for the organization.
Allow them to have their own identity.
Leaders are attracted to environments where they can explore – especially in areas where they have a personal interest or where they want to develop. This may even be outside their direct job description. Give them permission to do something new and put their name on it.
Invest in them.
Mentor them personally. This is huge for younger leaders. They crave it, but don’t always know how to ask for it. This is not micromanaging, but rather helping them learn valuable insight from your experience and exposing them to other good leaders.
Give them more creative time to dream.
This is a stretch for some structures, but it’s needed to retain leaders. It doesn’t mean people aren’t held accountable, but I prefer to do so with goals and objectives rather than with a time clock. You might keep someone from feeling stifled if you give them more margin in how they spend their time.
Don’t burden them with control.
Many times when a senior leader gives other leaders in the organization more responsibility it makes the leader nervous. So, they revert to controlling and micromanagement. Fear keeps them from allowing others a chance to prove they can lead.
It doesn’t communicate you trust them. This doesn’t mean you are absent from the process. It is hard to release responsibility to someone unproven, but you must stifle your fears and let them learn to lead. Stay close enough to jump in when requested or when it is absolutely required.
Allow them to help you lead/dream/plan.
Include them in discussions and brainstorming in which they normally would not be included. The more they feel included the more loyal they will be.
Reward and celebrate them.
If they are doing well – let them know it. Praise them privately and publicly and compensate them fairly. What is celebrated gets repeated.
Keeping leaders on your team will be at challenge for you as a leader. You will have to stretch yourself to stretch them. But, it’s almost always worth it. As they grow, you grow, and the entire organization grows.