5 Signs a Young Leader is Ready for More Responsibility


I love coaching young leaders and one thing is true for sure, they are eager to rise in their level of responsibility. That’s a good thing. Most leaders (of any age) want to excel, be productive, and make a difference. They want to rise in leadership! Knowing when that should happen is a very artful process requiring wisdom and discernment.

Giving more responsibility too quickly can hurt a young leader and cause a set-back in their growth.

Giving more responsibility too slowly can frustrate a young leader and cause them to lead beneath their ability, and possibly affect their team spirit.

Depending on the size of your church, the following key indicators will relate to a respective combination of your staff and key volunteer leaders.

Before I give the indicators, let me offer three poor reasons to add to a young leader’s responsibility:

  1. You need a job done and there is no one else to do it. (It’s actually better to leave the job undone, than to put the wrong person in it, or someone who is not ready.)
  2. Simply because they want to do more.
  3. Pressure of any kind, including political in nature, from others who want the young leader to rise.

5 Key Indicators to increase the level of responsibility: 

1) They love their current job and excel at it.

If they cannot find joy and productivity in their current role, it is extremely difficult for someone to rise and excel in a new position (in the same church.) Over the long haul, the majority of success is found through a positive attitude expressed through persistence, gratitude, and personal growth. Competence is essential, but attitude is the winning edge.

2) They’ve been in their current role long enough to show consistent results.

If a young leader shows up and “kills it” that’s great. But like the honeymoon of a young couple just married, the first few weeks and months are usually smooth sailing. In terms of real results for your young leader, you don’t really know anything of their competence until at least 12 months in a specific leadership role. Then you can begin to measure results.

3) They demonstrate margin and capacity for more.

Margin and capacity are subjective and carry a different interpretation for each person.

Both are wonderful traits that begin to authentically reveal themselves only after the leader has demonstrated love for their job, a great attitude, and competence. When those behaviors are consistently in play, you can gain confidence that their skill, experience level, and ability to prioritize (focus), have created margin to handle more (capacity). One practical way to discern margin and capacity is that in addition to their job, they often see and provide solutions for problems outside their responsibilities that others don’t see.

4) They demonstrate a healthy personal life and growth patterns.

You discover the true bottom line when you pay attention to their whole life. How are things at home with their family? Whether single or married, the health of their family relationships is a huge deal. No one can carry an ever-increasingly heavy load when things are chaotic in their personal life. This truth makes it difficult to grow as a leader (your margin is devoted to survival not growth) and therefore, it is unwise to increase responsibility.

5) The organization has an available role that fits their gifts and abilities.

Sometimes a young leader must be patient. If your church doesn’t currently have an area of responsibility that makes sense, it’s foolish just to make up a job so they have more to do. Greater responsibility must be a marriage of the gifts and desires of the young leader, as well as the needs and vision of the organization.

Greater responsibility should only be granted when the gifts of a young leader meets the needs of the organization.