Every leader faces challenges. The challenges we face create an opportunity for growth – whether it is within us as leaders or for the people we lead. When challenges arise one of the big questions we have to ask is “who do I send?

Someone has to address the challenge head on. That does not mean they are facing the challenge alone. It does mean that someone must be the tip of the spear…that person who drives the strategy, resources & manpower to get the job done.

Depending on the nature of your team and the complexity of the challenge you face there are one of 3 people you can send into battle:

  • Right Hand Man – not everyone knows who his or her right hand man is, but all of us have one. It is the person on our team who we know will have our back no matter what. They believe in the cause and they are willing to do whatever is needed for the team. In your context it could be a co-captain, an apprentice, a VP or perhaps just a person in whom you place a great deal of trust.

You send in your right hand man in when victory is essential and you need someone to think and act on your behalf. They aren’t you, but they deliver with consistency that matches your own.

  • Rookies – the best teams have a great farm system, they figure out how to train up new talent. Rookies are untested and bring with them a big question – how much horsepower do they have under the hood? The mark of a good rookie is they have a lot of potential but do not yet have the experience to show what they can do. In your context they might be a new draftee, an intern or resident, a new hire or a new volunteer.

You send in a rookie when there is an opportunity for victory with a big upside, but also low risk. Give them opportunities that have a lot of space for growth and accomplishment but at the same time wont crush them if they fail.

  • You – you cannot do everything, but there are some things that only you can do. A good leader finds a healthy balance in empowering the people on his or her team to take on most challenges while also recognizing that some things cannot be delegated or handed off. Leaders cannot be afraid to get their hands dirty.

You send yourself in when the fate or direction of the team is on the line. Sometimes challenges have a way of helping to reshape the purpose of vision of a team. You can delegate authority but you cannot delegate responsibility – and there are situations where the tip of the spear must be the person who is most responsible for the results of the team.