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The 90-10 Theory

Powell Grisham
Powell Grisham Tuesday September 10, 2013
<? echo $type; ?> The 90-10 Theory

At this year’s Orange Conference, I had the opportunity to talk to a group of excited family ministry leaders about the importance of delegating. The bottom line was that to be an effective and efficient leader, we must be willing to delegate.

As I’ve seen my current church grow, I’ve been forced to think more and more about my ability—and willingness—to delegate. Through my hours, days and weeks of processing, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are only a very few things a leader (in this case me) can’t delegate.

One of my first bosses told me that only 10 percent of the answers he gives really impacts the direction of the business. So if this is true, he was basically saying 90 percent of the answers could be given by someone other than himself. He then followed up his “leadership theory” by saying the toughest part of the theory is knowing which questions fall into the critical 10 percent. Now, I have to admit that I can’t confirm that this theory has been adequately researched or ever sited in the Harvard Business Review, but anecdotal evidence points toward the possibility that there could be some truth to it.

As a leader, take an informal straw poll of how many of the questions you answer that really impact the overall direction of your Organization. Even if my bosses’ theory was derived from a wives’ tale, I believe you’ll discover, as I did, that a lot of the questions you dole out answers to could have been delegated to someone else.

So our challenge, as leaders, is to determine the all important 10 percent. As I sit in meetings with my talented team of leaders, I’m working on listening more and allowing the leaders, whom I trust, to answer more and more. Through this, I’m quickly realizing my critical 10 percent should be made up of almost 100 percent of answers that explain, reiterate, defend, support and share my passion for our vision statement: “To create a safe environment where the un-churched can come and hear the life-changing truth that Jesus Christ cares for them and died for their sins.”

What should your 10 percent be made up of?

Powell is the Lead Pastor of Rock Point Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He and his wife, Amy, are so thankful for the ways God has moved in their family.  In 2004, after being part of North Point Community Church since it’s beginning, he was honored to be asked to help start North Point’s first strategic partner church, Wiregrass Church, in Dothan Alabama. After leading Family Ministry for six years at Wiregrass, he then served as President of Lighthouse Family Retreat. In the summer of 2011, Powell and his family moved to Chattanooga and joined the team at Rock Point. Powell graduated from Berry College and has an MBA from Troy University.  He and Amy married in 1996 and have two boys, Stanton and Whitaker. Powell enjoys needle point, collecting bird figurines and Big League Chew Bubble Gum. Okay, that last sentence isn’t true . . . expect for the Big League Chew part!