We’ve all heard the statement, “The devil is in the details.”
To start with, in most cases, it’s not true. Success or failure may be in the details, depending on how they are dealt with, but it’s a stretch to say the devil is there.
But, even if he were there, he’s certainly not there alone.
Personal experience, as well as the experience I get from coaching leaders as a professional life and leadership coach, has taught me that leaders are often involved in details which should be delegated to others. As a leader, it’s a matter of strategy, priorities and gifting to be very careful about how much detail you get immersed in.
One leader I worked with a number of years ago called such details, administrivia. He coined a new word which I have used in describing this issue.
Many leaders are doers, but not delegators. They haven’t learned how to train and give responsibilities for making decisions to others. There are leaders who assume they are delegating when they give tasks to others but unless they give away the responsibility for making decisions, they are still involved in (all) the details.
Here are a few reasons for you as a leader to stay out of many of the details of your church, organization or company and give others authority to decide and manage such details:
1. If you are a gifted high-level leader, chances are you are not especially gifted executing small details. Managing those details yourself is poor stewardship of your time and energy.
2. Others are more gifted at details than you are and would do a much better job at it than you.
3. You rob people who are detail-oriented to serve your organization with excellence, allowing you to move on to more important tasks on which you should be spending the lion’s share of your time.
4. If you are stepping into many details and are not good at it, balls will get dropped and things will be missed which can cost you, perhaps dearly.
5. Being involved in the small details as well as the big-picture things could wear you out contributing to stress and burnout.
6. If you maintain control over many of the small details and continue to try and make all those decisions yourself, you can become the bottleneck that slows everything down.
Why do leaders continue to stay in the details? Here are some reasons I can think of:
1. They don’t have anyone they trust to take care of the details.
2. They have come to believe that they need to do a lot of things they really don’t need to do and shouldn’t do.
3. They want things done exactly as they would do it and since there is no one that does it exactly that way, they default to doing it themselves.
4. They have never hired or trained anyone else to execute the details well. I don’t have time to train anyone else or we can’t afford to pay someone else to do it are two excuses I often hear.
5. Pride keeps them from letting others make decisions regarding details and giving other people credit for handling it well…better than they could!
For you leaders reading this who say, “Yes, I’m guilty of being too much in the details,” I have two words of advice: STOP IT!