Are You Abandoning Your Staff?

It took me years to discover this negative leadership trait in myself…


The more I trusted one of my team members the more I tended to abandon them.  It wasn’t that I was disinterested or didn’t care, it was that I had such faith in their ability that I would abandon them in order to go work with other staff members who needed more directive leadership from me.

Picture the proverbial spinning plate analogy.  I left the great spinners to themselves while I attending to the wobbly ones.

Unfortunately, the only thing this approach does is serve to frustrate your greatest team members.

Your high performers still need your time and attention.  It’s not that they need you to tell them everything to do – that in fact, would demotivate and frustrate them.  But they do need you to be involved and connected to them to affirm their decisions and instincts, to talk through challenges with them, to celebrate their wins and to remind them that their defeats are not as catastrophic as they may feel.  They need you to be involved enough to run to their defense when necessary and to show care and concern when they’re struggling.

As you grow as a leader, I really believe that you must find yourself spending more intentional time with your core team and being less available to the masses.  In essence, the “mile wide and inch deep” theory.  You can’t successfully invest in hundreds of leaders personally, but you can do exponential impact by deeply investing in your trusted few.

Do you have abandonment issues too?

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  • Beth Luca August 7, 2012  

    This is great, Jenni! In just one year of leading women at Vintage I found myself doing this. One thing I realized was the need to make my leadership team (core team)  a smaller group  of ladies. Initially I wanted a larger team to make sure undue stress was not put on any one person but as the year went on I realized that I couldn’t invest the way I needed to in this many women and my leaders that felt called to this ministry were naturally taking more on. So as I enter year 2, I’m in the process of restructuring.  In doing this, I’m putting myself in the position to be able to really grow some women leaders with this exact idea that as I invest in the few, they will invest in a few and on. A ripple effect. This was great confirmation that I’m on the right track. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jenni Catron August 8, 2012  

      Beth, it makes my heart so happy to see all that God is doing through you! Debbie and I were sharing our love for you when I saw her a few weeks ago 🙂 Keep leading well my sweet friend!

  • Jon Stallings August 7, 2012  

    Great point Jenni, I have been on both parts of the equation.  As leaders it is easy to get busy and let  your strong team members fend for themselves. I must remember to stay in engaged with the whole team. 

    On the flip side. How would you approach a leader (someone you follow) who is not engaged with  the stronger members of the team?

    • Jenni Catron August 8, 2012  

      Hey Jon, in response to your question… I think that I would evaluate my equity with my leader and see if I could engage the discussion and share with them the perception that others have that they are not engaged. I’ve found that more often than not, leaders assume their staff are doing fine and they’re afraid of micro-managing by being more involved. (That’s a fine line of course.) Sometimes just bringing it to their attention (in an honoring way) helps them find the right balance.

  • Brendon Wilson August 7, 2012  

    Jenni – excellent post! My wife, Danielle always helps me focus on the ‘abandonment’ part of my leadership trait … I have just transition from a XPastor position in Phoenix to a Lead Pastor position in South Jersey and this post has been a great reminder and I look at the volunteer structure! 

    • Jenni Catron August 8, 2012  

      Brendon, wow what a transition! I love that your wife can speak in and provide balance for you on this. Praying for favor in your new role!