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Episode 41: Leading through delegation


There are many times when I'm teaching a workshop about delegation, accountability and all of the stuff that goes with it. I do an activity. Everybody divided into teams and then they nominate a team leader. Through a series of steps and they have to make these little packets, so I give them two minutes, and I say to the team, “Nobody can help the team leader they have to do all this work themselves.” In two minutes, most team leaders have one or two packets complete.

Then I have them do it again. I tell them this time we're going to reset the clock to two minutes, and you can delegate — every time the team completes the whole process with a couple seconds to spare. Someone did the math in class. He said, “Hey that's like a 300% increase in productivity”. Most the time, it is, and then we talked about delegating works and why if it does don’t more people do it. Many people said they don't have time, or they can do it better than selves. Sometimes it's just I don’t want to delegate my favorite things. We talk about a study in Harvard Business Review that talked about how people who are mastered delegation are about 112% more productive. That’s when the participants start to say, “Okay delegations a good thing.” I think that a lot of people don't delegate because they don't think far enough ahead.

To be a master delegator you have to have a vision for the future of your department or your company. You have to think further than what has to happen today or what has to happen tomorrow, to what has to happen next month. To be a master delegator, you need to have a vision of what needs to happen a year from now, and you have to have list of projects that need to be done. So that way when you have someone who you want to help, start to groom, and start to develop as a leader you can start giving them little projects to work on.

Another way to develop people by using delegation is to think about all the things that you currently do in your job. If you were training the next person to take over your role what kind of things should you train them on? I once had a lady in one of my classes say, “Well there's this report I have to run every single month, and I actually plan my vacations around the report. I think I'm the only person in the organization that knows how to do the report. I said “Well, for starters do you have an s.o.p. standard operating procedure documented so that if something happened to you nobody would have to figure out how to run the report? They could go grab that document and run the report.” Her first assignment was to create the standard operating procedure for it and train somebody else on how to do that report. Figure out who are the three or four people in your department who could replace you and start training them on how to do that report. Figure out what other things that you have that you do all the time that if somebody knew how to do it you would be adding a tool in their arsenal. This allows them to be a better employee. It will enable them to be better prepared for the next opportunity that they might have.

The more that you can train, delegate and give people skill-sets that'll help them become the next leader in your organization the better off you are as a leader. I truly believe our job as Leaders is to develop our next generation of leaders. When I say next generation of leaders, I'm not talking about age generations; I'm talking about the next people who can come behind you and who can take your spot. That frees you up to do greater things for your organization, for your business. It allows that person to gather skills for them to take their next up.

So here's my challenge for you and in this takes practice. It takes you thinking about things that you can delegate. It takes you taking the time to train them. There's nothing worse than to delegate something to someone when they have no idea how to do it. Because most people don't want to admit they don't know how to do something, it's your job as their leader to show them, to have them do it while you're watching them, and then for you to let them do it. Then check back in and give them feedback, “Hey, this is great, but you need to change this.” Then you turn them loose with that they are 100% confident in what they're doing, and they're able to do it successfully. It's your job to set them up for success.

So figure out what things do you have that you can delegate. What are the things that you're doing that next-generation leaders need to know how to do. Put it in your daytime, put it on your calendar spend time with them teaching them how to do those things. Then when they're good at it give that to them as part of their new responsibilities inside of your department. Then you find other things that you can do that add value to your organization.

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