I frequently hear from business owners and others in leadership positions about problems relinquishing responsibility or control with regard to their work. They just HATE that feeling of having “no control” and do all manner of things to avoid it; they worry that the business will fail the very moment they delegate decision making to someone else.
It’s ok… you are human… it is perfectly normal to feel that way.
Frankly, it is evolutionarily based and has stood you in good stead for millennia. It just won’t work well in today’s business environment.
Some clients often start off thinking that they have to personally direct every aspect of a business because they are the owner… the CEO… the president. They are, however, wrong. The sign of a great leader is how well their team is organized and how well the team performs under normal—as well as a stressful—situations. I get it, letting go can be really, really uncomfortable. Spoiler alert: that is your ego talking, and it is poison to the concept of humility which is one of the keys to good leadership.
Build A Better Team
Delegating is about your team, not you. It really doesn’t matter how good you are at your job; how efficient you can be. No one person will get as much accomplished as a skilled and disciplined team. Even Steve Jobs, the master of the intuitive leap, had teams of creative engineers generating ideas for him to sort through. Final decisions may have been his, but the work that initially went into final product was provided by a skilled team.
No one person will get as much
as a skilled
and disciplined team.
Give some thought to what you can gain from releasing your grip (or perhaps loosening it for a start) on control and learning to delegate to your people. Once you have successfully taken this step, you are able to detach and observe what is happening. You can then focus on strategic decisions and let your staff work with the tactical ones. An unintended consequence of this kind of letting go is that you build trust among the various levels of the company by letting them take responsibility for their actions, performance, and outcomes. Who knows, you might just see promotion- worthy performance as well.
Don’t Forget The Why
All of this being said, let me ask you something: do your people really understand the “why” behind their part of the big picture? Yes, their personal part. If you are going to delegate effectively you are going to have to take the extra time to make sure that they all “get it.” When your team or group doesn’t “get” the goals, then they likely won’t be put in the extra effort to make things happen when challenges arise.
Do your people really understand
the “why” behind
their part of the big picture?
Doing the hard work to succeed will not be the first thing on their mind. Getting your team on board isn’t as easy as just telling them about their goals. You have to get them to believe and that takes a message and balance. It doesn’t work to just explain the greater strategy and expect your people to understand. You have to assume that they won’t and take total responsibility to teach your entire team where you want to take the business, and make sure they understand why it will be good for all of them. Yep, their understanding is on you too.
Remember: you need to be the one who gives the team its strategic goals and gives them the ‘why.’
Start With Your Key Leaders.
Don’t forget your key leaders. For a start, get some of your key supporters together after you have talked to the whole team and enlist them in your efforts. Spend some extra time with them and give them a very detailed understanding of what you are trying to accomplish and why it’s important. These folks can be crucial; they will be your first supporters (Simon Sinek calls them ‘early adopters’). These folks will encourage the rest of your team in thinking that your proposal is a great idea. They will reinforce how it will benefit everyone if everyone works together on this project. It will make it easier for them too; everyone wants to be part of a successful team. Your key leaders will move the whole team forward.
Make Sure They Understand
Once they have gained that understanding, then you can trust them to start making independent decisions. You will find that they will support the project or goal of the company. Remember though, just because you explained “why” doesn’t mean that they get it. After your explanation, they still might not get how their role fits into achieving the final goal. Be patient with this. In this kind of transition from centralized to decentralized control, team members can be expected to be hesitant to ask questions. They might fear looking stupid in front of the boss, they might fear looking stupid to their peers. Most of all, they might fear questioning your plan. But if they all don’t completely understand the goals, they will NOT be able to execute effectively.
If you haven’t done it yet, it will be up to you and you alone to foster a new company culture. Foster one that not only accepts but seeks out and celebrates those kinds of questions. When they ask you something, be sure to answer in some form or another of “thanks for asking me to clarify what I want you folks to do. I appreciate the risk you took and your desire to take real responsibility of our work here.” Celebrate the question!
Never take the other tack and embarrass them for speaking up or out, even if it is over what you think is a fundamental and simple issue. If you do I guarantee you that no one will ask you any more questions. By the way, don’t make the assumption that just because no one has the nerve to ask a question that everyone gets it. If you will celebrate those who speak up first with questions, more will follow.
Don’t make the assumption
that just because no one
has the nerve to
ask a question
that everyone gets it.
Remember, it is all about you becoming an effective leader. One of the most humbling and difficult concepts you can accept is that you can do better, you can more clearly communicate, you can build stronger relationships with your people. Take responsibility for yourself, your actions, the team in your life and lead them where you know they need to go to succeed.
But let them help you by successfully learning to delegate.
Insist on it.
Are you having challenges delegating? Do you have a grip on how to best pass on tasks to your junior managers and direct reports?
If you you aren’t sure what to do first, give me a call and lets talk… Schedule a time for a free call and tell me your story.
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