The call or email finally comes from the executive pastor's office, that it's time to move forward with the capital project they've been hinting at for so long.
Distribute power and leadership at all levels of the team.
As the Team Leader, what is your response? Do you look at this as an opportunity to be a genius/hero, one who will single-handedly design the most amazing AVL system ever experienced (and will therefore be named after you when you're gone), or do you engage your team to bring their knowledge and experience to the table, in order to ensure all possible aspects of the project have been addressed?
How about a situation that happens on a more regular basis: You don't have a paid staff team. You instead rely on volunteers to operate the gear from week to week. How is your control booth laid out? Do you have all the positions set up with enough space for each person to work, or are the controls packed together, so you can run it, "just in case none of the volunteers show up to help?"
I could go on with so many more scenarios like these, but the point is, whether you are the lonely staff member trying to drum up some volunteer help, or the lead position responsible for a staff of 20, you are at the mercy of the effectiveness of your team to get the job done.
In this day and age, I truly believe the most important skill to possess as a tech director has little to do with technology. Today's tech director must know how to empower his or her team.
What does "empowering your team” even mean?
First, let me be clear as to what it is not.
Empowerment is not giving team members free reign to make their own decisions, and take the ministry/organization in whatever direction they see fit. Empowerment is not emailing out all the orders for the week, so that you can focus on the handful of projects that you actually enjoy doing. Empowerment is not a way to manipulate your team to feel like they have freedom when, in reality, you are still directing their every move.
Instead, here are five "senses" to instill in your team, to achieve true, healthy empowerment.
Sense of Competence
Let's be realistic - I can't empower my team if they aren't very good at what they do.
Buying my audio engineer the latest, greatest audio console, with the intent to "empower" him or her to create a better mix will get me nowhere, if I don't provide the training necessary for them to understand how to use it. Foster in your team members a sense of competence. Provide technical training or send them to seminars. Direct them to role models who can make them better. Create experiences that will enforce their skills set and drive them to be better.
Sense of Value
Do the members of my team know what the ministry's mission is? Do I know how to articulate the mission? Mission statements may seem very "corporate," but if I never put the ministry's overarching goal into words, nobody can truly understand why they are working so hard.
The "why" of an organization is a vital centrality that everything else ties into. The mission statement and any core values of the ministry must be clearly stated and repeated often!
I have to remember that I think about this every day. Many others on my team (especially if they are volunteers) don't have the same weight on their shoulders. They need to be reminded as often as possible, why we do what we do.
Sense of Personal Impact
A great way to reinforce the "why" of my team, is to constantly provide examples of how their work impacts others. Provide tangible examples of people whose lives are changed directly or indirectly by the work of the ministry.
Share stories with your team about changed lives, because of the internet broadcast. Any time you have high attendance or a big baptism service, remind your folks that these people are here, because of the effort the team has exerted.
Sense of Ownership
This one can be more difficult and certainly more uncomfortable for a team leader, but here's the reality: If I have empowered my members to be competent, if I have instilled in them the value of the "why," and if they have seen the positive results of executing goals successfully, then I can empower them to make decisions on their own.
Distribute power and leadership at all levels of the team. Give lead volunteers the ability to schedule all the volunteers in their areas of responsibility. Provide enough parameters to the lighting programmer that you don't have to approve each and every look. Allow the volunteer graphics person to input the songs and sermon notes for the weekend. All of these examples are ways to create a strong sense of ownership in your team members.
Sense of Security
At the foundation of everything discussed so far, is a sense of security or trust. Without a strong foundation of trust, none of this works. I can't just provide lip service and tell people they are "empowered," if I am going to let the bus run over them when something fails. They need to feel secure in an environment that is open, honest, fair, and consistent.
Why Doesn't This Work?
So, what keeps us from empowering our teams? Other than simply failing all of the senses above, all too often it is the result of pride. I have to be OK with the fact that if I properly empower my team to be as effective and excellent as possible, it likely means that I will stay out of the limelight and that others will frequently receive kudos for jobs well done. 1 Peter 5:5-7 says, "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." When we walk in humility, our team will prosper. When we walk in humility, we build trust. When we walk in humility, God will take care of our needs.
In my experience, when I successfully empower my team and create leaders at all levels, my team can accomplish more than I could ever conduct just by myself, and with higher excellence.
OK, But I'm Not in Charge
For those of you who are not in a typical leadership position, before you go and anonymously shove this article under the door of your supervisor, remember that you always have the ability to "lead up."
If you don't have the five senses listed above, start asking questions! Ask for training. Ask what the mission is. Ask if anyone is being impacted by your work. Ask for more responsibility! Remember, though, to do all these things with a spirit of humility.