Susan was mad at our organizational policy, and she let me know it. Her face was turning red, and her voice was rising, almost shouting, as she said, “I just finished training them; they are just now good at their job. You’re allowing them to transfer, that’s stupid. They should have to stay in the job for a year or two before moving on. This isn’t fair to me.” The organizational policy Susan was mad at, was our transfer policy, which allowed employees to transfer within the organization after six months in their position, which is just what someone working for Susan had done. Everything she continued to say in our one-sided conversation was about her, the work she would have to do hiring someone new, training them, and what if others in her division did the same. Clearly it was all about Susan, not her staff.

She didn’t understand the 5th promise of a leader, I will provide opportunities for you.

In my experience, a major difference between being a manager and a leader is promise # 5 – opportunities. A manager is responsible for managing an operational area of the organization, like a department. Their focus is on the details of what it takes the run it efficiently. Anything that messes with efficiency, like turnover, is a problem. Sometimes they view the employee that wants to move up in the organization as ungrateful.

The leader is different. They never hire someone for just one job. They hire for potential to do so much more. The first job is just preparation for whatever is next. Leaders accept that while they always hope the next opportunity is within their area or the organization, it might be elsewhere.

As leaders, we prepare our team by providing opportunities to both use their skills and gifts, and also to stretch them beyond their comfort zone. Yes, we sometimes throw them out of the boat to see if they can swim. When putting someone on your team into a situation beyond their experiences, deep waters, the opportunity will teach them two great skills.

  • How to tap into the knowledge of othersWhen overwhelmed by a new situation, help is needed. Failure is assured doing it on their own. They need to learn from those around them, who can help them with what they don’t know but need to know.
  • How to identify what’s the most important – When you’re dealing with something new, you can get easily get distracted by the many things that need attention. Success comes from figuring out what’s the most important thing and focusing energy there.

Another opportunity leaders can provide is involving them in things that are not directly related to their work. In this way, they must use different skills than they use day to day. When doing this, don’t make the mistake I once made. I saw in Mary someone who was gifted, but not using all those gifts in her job. I provided numerous opportunities outside of her day-to-day work to round out her skills, but I didn’t tell her the purpose. Later in a discussion with her I learned she thought I didn’t like her because I kept giving her “extra work.” It’s always better to tell people the “why”.

God has promised to equip us with what we need, to prepare us for what lies before us and provide for all of our needs. Can’t we try to do the same for our team?

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

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