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Create Future Leaders Series #7 How to delegate what you like doing

man and woman in feedback conversation

Following on from my last blog, we explored the importance and ideas to understand and leverage motivation of those in your team.

A great way to identify and satisfy strengths of others is to delegate. Both as part of succession and part of a master plan for each person. It is also one of the most common challenges I see leaders face, the art of letting go and delegating to others.

There are many reasons or excuses for this such as; no one can do it as well as me, I don’t have the time to explain what needs to be done, there is no one I trust to do what I do or it’s really important and therefore I must do it.

What a load of crock! I ask you, what will it cost you and your team not to delegate?

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”.

-Alvin Toffler

As leaders of teams and organisations we have more to get done in less time, we are faced with new technologies popping up everywhere we look, complex systems and structures in many of the organisations we work in and the need to be on top of all of this. The United States military has long been committed to leadership training and practice and their acronym of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) is one many of us are familiar with. It is a practical code for awareness and readiness. The elements of VUCA present the context of which organisations view their current and future state. Volatility refers to the nature and dynamics of change and the speed of this. Uncertainty relates to the lack of predictability and certainty of change and this is where our sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events is so important. Complexity applies to the multiple forces, issues, chaos and confusion that can surround the organisations we are in and ambiguity relates to the sometimes blurred haziness of reality and the mixed meanings of everything we face. Delegation is key to effective leadership and can assist us to stay on track and build and lead our teams.

Delegation is not a hand ball if done correctly and for the right reasons. Too often we delegate without understanding the task or we delegate to the wrong person. Maybe someone may come across as lazy when in actual fact they are bored. So why not delegate based on strengths and give people more of what they like?

Over the years, delegation as both a leader and as a business owner have challenged me and a key to the success of delegating effectively I believe comes down to these few things:

Master your mindset

If you think everyone has too much on and you can’t delegate to them then that will be the case and the energy you emit will stifle anything happening. If you can change your mindset to think about what is will cost you and the team NOT to delegate this can assist in the direction you will take. We all have a lot on, the more you can delegate effectively, the more your team will learn the art of this and also delegate accordingly. Remember there is a temporary delegation and you can assign a task to more than one person and they don’t all have to be direct reports.

Delegate what you like

Yes, you read that correctly. Look at what you may be attached to and are no longer learning and growing from and allocate this to someone that will benefit and grow from the experience. Too often we create parts of our role that “become our baby”, not a great thing if the learning and ability of this task have reached its capacity. Make a list of the everything you do in your role and highlight your favourite tasks.

Look at what you can let go of and who this may empower and grow. What will you replace this with that will assist you to lead and work on the team and organisation?

Delegate as part of a master plan

Know and grow your team and delegate tasks and projects according to what may be required in their next role. This forces you to explore with your team where they want to head and assists in creating a clear succession plan. Base what you will delegate on what will grow the individual and let go of the “How” and give them the “what” so you create a space for them to be empowered and to learn through their own awareness and ability.

Satisfy what lights people up

When we feel lit up it’s usually because we are doing what motivates us at a deep level. Think about your favourite part of your role? I’m a realist so I know you can’t always do the things you love every day but I believe if you can delegate tasks based on what lights people up and satisfy what really motivates them they will flourish.

If Mary is amazing at reporting and she enjoys it give that to her to do and let Scott assist her if this is his weakness and he will learn from a peer who will enjoy sharing what she knows. A win-win for all

Choose the right person

Too often things are delegated without a lot of thought. Really think about who will benefit and learn from the task and coach them through exactly what is required if it is new to them. Be consistent in delegation and ensure everyone shares the load. Don’t limit your delegation sphere to your direct reports, instead think broadly across your peers and up-line. A great way to increase strategic agility!

Celebrate Success

Recognition is key in any workplace and people love to be recognised. Some in public and some in private.

Look at how each person in your team likes to be recognised and use this as a platform for them to share how they found the delegated tasks, what worked and what was challenging. This is a great way to replicate success and share best practice as a team!


Delegation is a simple concept but not always easy to implement and gain traction in. I’d love to hear what helps you effectively delegate in your role and how this is contributing to creating future leaders in your organisation.

Renée

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