Lesson #5: Delegate, Empower, Measure, Inspect What You Expect and Have Specific Outcomes.
By Suzanne Black; President, The Coaching Center, LLC
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As we learned in Leadership Lesson #4, no person is an island. Counting on others is necessary for making your vision a reality. Hailey’s Leadership Lesson #5 focuses on delegating, empowering, and overseeing progress toward successful outcomes.
The first part of the lesson tackles delegation. In order to be an effective leader, you must know when to delegate and to whom to delegate. While you might trust your fourteen-year-old with the lawn mower, you might not trust your nine-year-old with the lawn mower. However, your nine-year-old might be great in the kitchen and you would trust him to cook dinner – but perhaps not with a complicated recipe. This metaphor can be used with team members -- each person has her or his individual skills and talents. Understanding and delegating appropriate tasks will improve the likelihood of success.
Letting go is the hardest part of delegation. Can I really trust him? Will she do an effective job? Questions like these swim around in the heads of leaders considering delegating. Delegation is hard because most of us don’t trust one another. The number of Americans who believe that most other people are trustworthy dropped from 55% in 1960 to just above 30% in 2003 – and that number may be even lower now. In other words, the average manager trusts only 3 of 10 team members!
Delegation, then, requires a leap of faith. If you delegate appropriate tasks to appropriate individuals, you will be confident in your decision and success will likely follow. That success makes it easier to trust the next time you need to delegate. The positive cycle is created.
Delegation won’t work without empowerment. You wouldn’t ask your fourteen-year-old to mow without a good mower or your nine-year-old to make dinner without the proper utensils. Think about the “tools” your team members need to complete the tasks you’ve delegated to them. Tools can be tangible resources (e.g. money) or intangible (e.g. power). Without the correct tools, they are bound to fail.
Ongoing coaching of team members is also critical. Measurement and inspecting outcomes becomes important. Just like you wouldn’t send your fourteen year-old out to mow without a mower, you wouldn’t send him to do the task without explaining how to mow and how you expect the lawn to look when he is done. On-going coaching is important, especially when the task is new. Measure and inspect what you expect on a regular basis. Once is not enough support for most people.
When you delegate, empower, and follow up, you transform. Transformation occurs in team members because they have increased ownership over the outcome. Transformation occurs in you because you are no longer a leader who simply tells people what to do. You have now become a leader who creates change – in people and your practice.