The one key thing that distinguishes leaders is the kind of decisions they have to make. A leader's decisions not only impact the organization's bottom line, they also impact the quality of life and performance of their people. Vision, strategy, structure, and resource allocation are the critical areas where leadership decisions need to be made. Management and staff can be empowered to make all other decisions, with circumstantial exceptions.
If you, leader, are investing much time in making many decisions at an operational level, two words for you: Stop it.
I am not sure history has proven a more effective leader than Moses. (Jesus, of course, being the exception.) Here is a guy who moved an entire nation from one country into a foriegn land, through a wilderness, with limited resources, seditious co-leaders, complaining people, and stronger armies. And while Moses did not get to experience the "promised land", he had a protege' who successfully continued in and completed his vision. Moses was a leader.
But, Moses came to a place where he was making too many decisions. Like any organization or group, as the nation of Israel grew and began to mature, more decisions had to be made. But, this overwhelmed Moses. So, in steps Jethro, his father-in-law, giving him sound advice: STOP. Jethro, in Exodus 18 (NLT), says:
"What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?”...“This is not good!”... "Select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you."
Moses gave heed to this sound advice, decisions were push down to lower levels, people got their problems addressed, and Moses was able to focus on his core competencies of prayer, leadership, and instruction. He made fewer decisions and empowered new leaders.
Here is a process for making fewer decisions, while empowering new decision makers.
- Ask, what are the core competencies needed in my leadership poisition? Own those and the corresponding decisions.
- Stop and consider all the decisions that role up to you.
- Ask, which of those decisions should be made by whom and then empower those people to make those decisions.
- Use these four criteria to determine potential decision makers
- - capable, honest, fear God, and have financial integrity.
- Build in times to review the decisions and outcomes with the decision makers. Then, get out of their way.
- As always, pray about every thing.
- Repeat this process according to a pattern.
Fewer decisions, but more important ones come into focus. And you will not only see, but you will also enter your promised land.