Learn the two things you control regarding self (based on the work of Victor Frankl), and the three things you control in an organization.
- I've interviewed over 100 leaders on the podcast I co-host and one of our guests is an expert on essentialism. I remember him saying that more than writing endless to-do lists, we need to create a stop-doing list and avoid it at all costs. Sounds like simple self-discipline to me. Simple? Yes. Hard? Absolutely! Why is delegation so hard? I bet I can read your mind. It's faster to do it myself. False pride.
I don't want anyone to drop the ball. Trust. It won't be the way I like it. Perfectionism. I don't want to give up control. Insecurity. Guess what? If you're not delegating, you're essentially doing your old job and you're not doing your new job. Your job when leading the organization is to do what only you can do, and what you should do, now. If your people aren't stepping up, you have to ask, can they perform the job or task to the standard? If not, train 'em.
Do they want to do the job? If not, counsel 'em. A Stanford coaching survey recently found that boards say their CEOs would be more effective if they delegated better. There are some simple steps you can take to create ownership in your organization. Set clear goals and expectations. Too often, people in our organizations don't really know what's expected and to what standard. They may know the deadline, but they don't know your expectation when it comes to milestones, getting buy-in from other teams, and what initiative, responsiveness, and adaptability really mean from your perspective.
No, they cannot read your mind and it's rare we can wave our hand and simply say, make it happen. We also have to be very clear about lines of authority and what mistakes are allowed and expected. If you're in healthcare, you have a different definition of acceptable mistakes than someone running a professional services firm. Remember, people are human, they make mistakes and that's where growth and learning come from. It's the way you learned along the way to your current position, right? Of course, we need to catch people doing things right.
It's easy to find people making mistakes, but it really takes a commitment to enriching others and taking the time for genuine praise and recognition. Having the attitude, it's their job, just doesn't cut it anymore. And the best praise is with T-S-P, timely, specific, and personal. Lastly, to use a military phrase, you can expect what you inspect. Follow through and remember that effective execution is best realized with just a few priorities.
Delegation doesn't offload accountability, but taking the time to patiently teach, guide, coach, direct, support, and mentor will provide long-term dividends to the growth of your people and the entire organization.