As children we don't like being told to do certain things. I believe, as we get older this annoys us even more, maybe it’s an anchor created from being told to do things as child by our teachers and parents? I know personally I love a deadline and a goal. I find wonder and excitement in the process of working out how to achieve the outcome. I reckon there are processes needed for certain tasks, especially technical functions but I believe as a leader or delegator you can in some way give individuals or teams the freedom to work it out themselves.
Imagine embarking on a road trip and being told the exact route to take and in what time to take it? Certain people that are more procedurally focused may like this whilst others may find this demotivating. I know I’d like to look at the infinite possibilities of ways to get there, where to stay along the way, where to eat and stop off as I felt like it. To me this adds to the fun and the empowerment of finding my way to that destination. It’s a bit like tasking individuals or your team. Give them the what, as in the objective and empower them to come up with the how, the process of getting there.
By letting others come up with the how it gets individuals to work as a team and tap into their strengths to get to an outcome. Be there as a sounding board, give feedback if needed and provide encouragement along the way but let them decide how to get there. Don't be the sales manager that is still selling. Coach individuals through by asking them questions without divulging the answer, even if you know it. If everything is planned and mapped out what choice of freedom or thinking are you delegating or directing?
As Carol Dweck outlines in one of my favourite books “Mindset”, those with a growth mindset or what I call a “bursting” mindset” tend to be more open to allow others to grow and learn along the way. This is the exact opposite for those with a fixed or what I call “bubble” mindset. People with this mindset think your abilities, capabilities and growth are fixed, and simply you are born with all you have. By having a growth mindset versus a fixed one will assist you to be an empowering leader. You will have trust in others abilities and their uniqueness and you are open to exploring their potential.
By letting others grow as they learn and experiment ways to achieve an outcome this can also create peer cohesiveness and teaming. Individuals get to tap into capabilities they may not realise existed in them and each other. Letting others come up with the “how” allows for mistakes and people learn from mistakes as this creates reflection and ways to do things better next time. You can also identify people’s strengths and motivations within the team that you may not have had access to had you just told them what to do. These strengths could have remained covered up and unidentified. Building a strength-based team with leverage is one of the things I bang on about, as I truly believe it works.
- Know what outcome needs to be achieved and more importantly the “why” of it
- People buy into something if they understand the benefit and what is in it for them.
- Set clear and reasonable timelines
- Don't make something urgent for the sake of controlling it
- Outline who is accountable and more importantly who owns the task or project?
- Have a clear process for feedback and a mode that suits all
- Is it a face-to-face catch up, phone call, Skype or email?
- Celebrate success when the outcomes is achieved
- Get individual or the team to share the process and what worked and what could be done differently for next time.
- Celebrating success creates an anchor or reference point so that this can be tapped into next time the team is working towards something and it gets tough.
Overall, give the destination but not the directions. Empower your team and embrace the opportunity to let go and let others learn, unlearn and relearn in order to move forward.
Renée Giarrusso is an accomplished author, facilitator, speaker, trainer and coach who works with high performing leaders and their teams across a myriad of industries and organisations. She passionately helps leaders fulfill their full potential resulting in increased motivation, communication and connection. Her expertise in growing and developing capability and behavioral change around leadership, communication, transition, presenting and sales effectiveness leave her clients inspired, re-energised and with improved results.
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