Leading Change
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Best Quote I’ve Heard On Building Leaders

“Delegate authority not tasks. Tasks create followers. Authority creates leaders.”

horse race

Craig Groeschel succinctly described the two basic ways of leading in a post on generational tension in leadership:

1-Leader focuses on preservation, followers exist to maintain the leader.

2-Leader focuses on empowerment, followers exist to grow into leaders and/or CHOOSE to be followers.

In #1 no one has a chance to truly lead alongside the positional leader. In scenario #2 those who desire leadership and are aligned to the mission, vision, and values CAN, while those who enjoy the passion, vision, and direction of the leader can follow.

Tasks are critical to the mission at hand but shared authority secures the future of your ministry!


  1. B – glad you posted those thoughts. Couldn’t agree more. I blogged a couple months ago on the same general issue after a quote in a recent book I read – “The Future Arrived Yesterday.” That quote may be helpful given your reflections on the Groeschel quote. http://brianvirtue.org/2010/07/the-implications-of-giving-away-power/

    People continue to believe delegation is a magical force that reproduces leaders. It’s like a disease. But one thing I’ll add – delegating authority is hard, really hard. There’s the servant leadership issue of being able to give away power and authority. But a lot of people need to be encouraged and supported to the point where they can embrace that authority when it is handed down. A lot of people struggle to assume that kind of responsibility and leadership and leaders need to think through how they can help people grow and mature in these areas if they want to expand their leadership base. I don’t believe it’s just a matter of selecting the few that are ready to assume it. There’s a development piece that is often overlooked here. A lot of potential leaders aren’t quite ready to lead with authority because they’ve been trained to defer and execute tasks. There’s a re-shaping of how people think about their roles that needs to take place in many places if authority is going to be passed on.

    Been thinking a lot about the two-sided dynamics to people becoming empowered in their roles.

    • “A lot of people struggle to assume that kind of responsibility and leadership and leaders need to think through how they can help people grow and mature in these areas if they want to expand their leadership base.”


      unless “emerging leaders” get a taste of authority and responsibility taking on large chunks of organizational leadership often becomes overwhelming.

      i certainly experienced that lack of development when stepping into my first significant leadership role in ccc.

      although i carved out some authority in my previous role i did not have enough experiences bearing the weight of leadership to make the transition smooth.

      good thoughts!

  2. Hey Brian,
    We just wanted to say thanks for your blog. Our staff team was trying to figure out our leadership structure and we pulled up your ministry funnel and it really helped us to clearly identify what level our students were at.

    Also, some of the quotes that you had in your blog helped us to to evaluate our leadership and if we are controlling or empowering our leaders. But I had a question about this post. At what point at Chico did you feel like you could delegate authority and not tasks? Do you start to empower people that are ‘half-way’ or’ for the most part’ aligned? What if thats as good as it gets with your leaders? We were talking about needing leaders and if we should start to empower our leaders but, knowing that they aren’t fully aligned and being that a lot of them are new this year, its really hard to figure out what to do.
    Thanks again for your blog, it has really helped us out!

    • thanks lily! i have to put some more work in that funnel. i might email your team for some feedback on how to make it more usable.

      my philosophy at chico was take as many risks as possible with non-leaders, but in small/short-term roles and responsibilities. it was also to not let anyone become a small group leader that wasn’t highly (80% ish) aligned to the mission, vision, and values.

      for you guys i’m wondering if there are upcoming events that you can test them out at so to speak, and if there isn’t you might want to design some (similar to how ocean city sp has games that aren’t really games but places to see people’s leadership capacities).

      you guys are definitely thinking properly about it–if you’re not a little scared about entrusting authority to someone then you have probably waited too long.

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