5 Signs You’re a Lone Ranger Leader (and Can’t Grow a Team)

lone ranger 5 Signs You’re A Lone Ranger Leader (And Can’t Grow A Team)

Everyone knows that Lone Ranger leaders rarely take their organization as far as leaders who can build a team

But here’s the question no one really wants to ask—so am I a Lone Ranger leader?

Cue the awkward tension.

If you’re even asking the question, good for you. Most of the leaders who need to ask themselves tough questions won’t. Which means everyone else is asking the questions instead.

I know my tendency as a leader is to try to do everything myself, which is never a good idea.

The good news is it’s a tendency you can fight and overcome.

If you need some motivation, just know that your failure to grow a team will ultimately stifle your mission.

And with something like 85 percent of all churches having an attendance of fewer than 200 people, and over 90 percent of business staying small, there’s a ton at stake.

The leader who does everything themselves is a leader whose team ultimately accomplishes little.

So, how do you know if you’re a solo, Lone Ranger leader? Here are five signs you are.

1. You Think You Can Do It Better

Many solo leaders honestly think they can do things better than other people. And when you’re starting out, sometimes that’s true.

Your organization isn’t exactly swimming in graphic designers, web developers, project managers, team leaders and creative thinkers. Further, nobody thinks about the mission and the future as much as you. And you don’t have a lot of budget to hire those things out.

So you do them all yourself.

In the early stages of any church or organization, there is a lot of hands-on leadership for sure. You can’t just sit back and say “all I do is cast vision” when you have a church of 26 people.

But inside this idea that you can do things better is a fatal flaw.

First, you’re only actually good at a few things. Just because you can do graphic design doesn’t mean you should do it, unless it’s your principal gifting and the most important thing you can do to move the mission forward. Which, unless you’re a graphic design firm, it isn’t.

Second, even if you have people who are almost as good as you are in an area, you need to give them responsibility quickly.

Why? Because they’ll get better (or someone else will soon come along who is).

And, because you need to focus on what you can truly do best.

Chances are you are only deeply gifted at one or two things. Maybe you can preach in your sleep, or cast vision without thinking twice.

The problem is that if you don’t spend time on your gifts, you’ll use them but never develop them. And that means you’re cheating your gift.

If you really want to become world class at something, spend time developing that gift. Which will also mean you need to delegate so many other things.

After over two decades in leadership, I’ve realized I’m really only good at two things: communication and ideation. I can generate ideas and content, and I can communicate them well. Everything else falls off a steep cliff pretty quickly.

When I bring those gifts to any mission, I can help move the mission forward. When I try to do anything else, it’s almost always sub-par.

You’re not that different.

So what are you great at? Develop that, and let so much of the other stuff go.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.

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