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Are You Too Busy to Lead? 3 Ways to Engage Your Team

Are You Too Busy to Lead? 3 Ways to Engage Your Team

With a full plate, limited resources and the best of intentions, how can you ensure you have time to lead? Here are three tips to keep your team engaged.

One of the largest corporate projects I've managed was plagued by interpersonal issues, defective software, and several communication snafus.  It was my first time leading a project of that magnitude (and with so many issues), so I felt a bit overwhelmed.  The person who helped me stay sane and succeed as a project manager was my boss.  I'd come to him with the latest issue and bounce various solutions off him.  We'd discuss the pros and cons of each option until we landed on one we thought would work best.  He had plenty of work to do himself, but he made sure he had time to help me wade through this challenging project. 

Contrast this with another project I worked on where the boss was swamped with several large projects.  She was rarely at her desk, always running from meeting to meeting.  She barely had time to inhale her lunch most days, much less consider how to juggle competing priorities or answer questions from her team.  The lack of leadership took its toll and without clear direction, her team often went in various directions wasting time and money.  She had the best of intentions, but she was too busy to lead.

Are you available for your team?  Can they come to you with questions, get your input on ways to solve an issue, etc.?  If not, you'll have to spend time later redirecting those who've wandered off the path you intended them to take. That's frustrating for everyone involved and certainly isn't the best use of your time.

So, with a full plate and limited resources how do you ensure you have time to lead?

Tip #1: >Schedule regular one-on-one meetings

An open-door policy may not always be the best option for you.  After all, you need focused time to think and complete your tasks.  To make sure your team members can get your undivided attention, schedule a weekly or bi-weekly meeting with each person who reports to you.  This is time for them to update you on their work, ask questions, and raise issues (and discuss potential solutions).  It's also a great opportunity for you to hear how they're doing and provide them with direction or assign new tasks.

Tip #2: Know your limits

No one likes admitting there's a limit to how much work we can handle, especially when our work involves seeking to reach the lost and make disciples. Do yourself (and your team) a favor and tell your leaders if you're overloaded.  They need to help prioritize or somehow reduce the workload so you can do your job with excellence.  You may not get immediate relief, but they can't help you at all if they don't know you have too much to handle effectively.

Tip #3: Carve out time to lead

Your team needs you to provide direction, clarify expectations, make decisions, and answer questions. If you're always in meetings, they may lose precious time trying to figure out what you'd want them to do (and perhaps make poor assumptions).  Granted, a mature team should be able to handle most issues on their own.  However there will be times they'll need your input, so you need to reserve time to be available if needed. 

Leading a team can be a very rewarding and fun experience.  It can also be extremely time-consuming.  Be intentional about making time to provide the leadership and direction your team needs.  The mission and vision of your church depends on your ability to lead an effective team, so it's certainly worth the effort required.

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