The Leader’s Wonderful Tool
Unfortunately, many leaders refrain from either learning the tools of effective delegation or employing it as a strategy after they learn it. There are many reasons cited by otherwise exemplary leaders:
- I don’t have the time to train someone else how to perform this task
- I can do it best myself because I know I will achieve the best results
- It will take someone else too much time to complete the project
- I’m just going to have to double-check all their work at the end anyway
- I enjoy these types of projects myself
- They’re on a roll with something else and I don’t want to interrupt them or bog them down
- I will delegate this task to someone else next time
- The boss has really high standards, and it would be unfair for me to delegate this to a less experienced team member
There are many more reasons leaders do not delegate, and some of them relate to the leader’s need to maintain control or hoard responsibility.
Unfortunately, these short-sighted reasons may help leaders feel better about themselves, but they do not contribute to the creation of a strong, coherent team nor the effective growth of individual team members.
I lived this tough lesson myself at Georgetown Law. When I was younger, I was a wonderful micromanager.
I had a need to be in control. How did this need manifest itself?
I checked up on people all the time – by email, by phone, by walking into their offices
I suggested I had a better way to do things.
I second-guessed their desired strategies for completing a project.
I took projects back for myself when I was dissatisfied with their speed.
I literally looked over people’s shoulders as they were doing their work.
Now I realize that managerial need emanated from my own insecurities. If I remained in control, I could better guarantee a successful outcome and remove the possibility of someone else disappointing me.
It never occurred to me that this approach robbed everyone on my team of significant growth opportunities.
After I realized that my job was not to develop all the answers but to ask the right questions and work with my team to collaboratively develop good solutions, I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
We engaged in a full team analysis of all our department processes and procedures.
We relied on metrics and data rather than guessing.
I shared my doubts and misgivings without any fear of appearing weak or indecisive.
In many instances of this group brainstorming or problem-solving, we came up with ideas or solutions that saved our department thousands of dollars or created new revenue streams that generated significant revenue.
You can do the same thing!