by Bryan Heathman
The saying goes that Management is doing things right, and Leadership is doing the right things. It sounds good on the surface – leaving the details up to the Managers while the Leaders lead. Or play golf.
But how can you be an effective Leader if you’re not aware of the logistics involved in your enterprise?
At some point – either on the way up in your career, or during on-going operations – you’ll need to understand the nuts and bolts of your project.
This essential makes the atmosphere ripe for getting a little too involved with logistics, leading to that dreaded syndrome known as “meddling.”
I know it’s not a pretty thought, but if folks are whispering about you as you walk by, it may be time to reassess and loosen your grip on your team.
Just as in that epic game involving 18 holes and a rambling lawn, business works best when you’re loose. It’s important to know when to loosen your grip and allow others to assume some responsibility. (Ask me how I know.)
Yes, as a matter of fact, loosening-up does include maintaining a sense of humor.
Loosening up will not only free up your time, it will help build the team rapport that’s so essential to your smooth-running operations. Once you get into the flow, you’ll be able to adapt your delegation style as the situation requires.
And the more you delegate, the easier it becomes. Actually, it can be downright addicting – leaving you more time to work on your golf swing.
Beware of the Sand Trap
Before you get too happy with the delegation idea, there is a caveat. When you give too much responsibility too soon, your team members can lose confidence in themselves, especially if they fall short of completing the tasks they’re given.
This means delegating big jobs should be a gradual process. The amount of responsibility you allocate as a Leader should increase only as your people grow in confidence and ability.
Here are some guidelines to help you bring your delegating skills up to par:
1. Climate: Think of your attitude about delegation within your team. Where do you fit in as a Leader? Keep in mind:
- The culture within your team
- Your Leadership style
- Your own competence and confidence
- Your physical location in relation to your staff
- Your attitude about your staff’s delegation
2. Style: Consider the details of your current method of delegation practices. Are you using the most appropriate method you have available, considering your unique circumstances? If not, think about your alternatives, including the following factors:
- Your team’s expertise and experience: Could they do with more guidance and supervision? Or should you be giving them more freedom to use their judgment and perform as they see fit?
- Your team’s professional development: Are you doing enough to help them perform their jobs more effectively? Could you provide them with additional training that might broaden their skills or allow them to perform more effectively?
- Letting go: Are you delegating enough to make efficient use of your own time? Do you sometimes find yourself holding onto tasks others could do? Letting go could free you up to spend time on strategy and other tasks that you alone are qualified to do.
3. Hone Your Strategy: Take time to write down some of your thoughts. Make a note of your delegation style, then note any ideas about what a more appropriate style could be.
- What can you do to improve your delegation style?
- What do you need in order to change?
- What can you do to prepare your staff for that change?
4. Inner Game: Now spend some time analyzing what you have written. Write down three key action points which you will try to carry out in practice over the course of the next few months.
When delegating tasks, try to match tasks to the skills and potential of team members. Spend a few minutes thinking about their skills and areas where they might have a desire to develop, expressed or implied. These talents can be incorporated into your final action plan.
5. Approach: Be mindful of making team members’ jobs interesting and delegating logically.
Create an action plan to cover the aspects of delegation you’ve identified. The framework will differ depending on the number of tasks there are and how they’re allocated to your team.
Both you and your team members need to come together to share expectations for the project. Ultimately, you want to run a happy shop. Comparing your expectations will show where you are in agreement and where you need to come closer together.
Keep the Long Range In View
Before acting on your plan with your team, make the effort to agree on a deadline for completion of the tasks and a date and time for a review session.
This session will give you a chance to revisit the points you agreed on and ensure that everything is on track. If you meet before the deadline, you’ll have a chance to answer any questions or address any problems that arise in the course of the project.
When you and your team do meet the deadline, make sure you take some time to celebrate… say, at the 19th hole. In fact, setting up your next team golf outing could be the very first task you delegate!
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success. He works with bestselling authors such as Zig Ziglar, Donald Trump and John C. Maxwell in the role of publisher, rainmaker and marketer. Bryan is author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into paying customers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes hosting customer golf with Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.
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