Little is said about how leaders should navigate the delicate balance between assigning tasks and inspiring commitment. In our journey today, we'll discover how leaders can learn to delegate by making clear plans, inspire commitment, and learn some smart moves from a leadership expert John C. Maxwell.
Delegation begins with the clarity of purpose. Leaders must be architects of precision, laying the groundwork for success through the definition of desired outcomes. This involves setting specific objectives, clear performance metrics, and establishing expected outcomes before assigning tasks to the team. Alongside this, a leader conducts an honest assessment of the team's ‘task maturity’, making sure each member is assigned responsibilities aligned with their capabilities.
- Define Desired Outcomes: Picture a scenario where the team is tasked with enhancing customer satisfaction. The leader, in setting clear outcomes, communicates a measurable goal, such as achieving a 20% reduction in customer complaints within the next quarter. Once you have defined this, it will help you know who to assign authority to.
- Assess Task Maturity: Think about a project that needs special technical knowledge. The boss, knowing what each team member is good at, smartly gives the job to someone who's already good at that kind of work.
Set Deadlines: When it’s time to delegate tasks, having a clear deadline is like giving them a roadmap. It not only tells them what needs to be done but also when it needs to be finished. It is a crucial aspect of clear delegation because it sets expectations and helps everyone understand the urgency and priority of the task.
Imagine a scenario where you hand over a project without a specific timeframe. Your team might not be sure when you expect it to be completed, and this lack of clarity can lead to confusion. The real clarity in delegation comes from specifying not just the task details but also the “when”. Remember, it's not just about having a due date. It's about creating a sense of accountability and making sure everyone is aligned on the timelines.
Inspiring Commitment and Communication
Effective delegation is not just about tasks; it's about promoting commitment and open communication. Leaders must initiate the delegation process by providing a compelling context for tasks, inspiring commitment from their team members. Furthermore, maintaining an open-door policy becomes the communication channel, allowing team members to seek support and encouragement when facing challenges.
- Start with Reasons: Picture a leader assigning a project to develop a new product feature. By articulating how this task aligns with the company's mission and addresses customer needs, the leader ensures that the team understands the broader significance of their work.
- Open Door and Engage at the Right Level: Envision a team member holding a challenging project. The leader, with an open-door policy, becomes an accessible source of support by sharing insights and giving encouragement that fits the unique details of the project.
Strategic Decision-Making in Delegation
In delegation, leaders make smart choices like using a compass. They say "yes" to things they're good at, "no" to things they're not, and "yes, if" they can pass tasks to the right people. It's like picking the right tools for the job.
Practice Saying "Yes," "No," and "Yes, If": Let's see a practical example to demonstrate how strategic decision-making in delegation works. We have Lucas, a team leader with a lot of knowledge for marketing strategies. In a real life project scenario, when Lucas is approached with a new marketing campaign, he confidently says 'yes' to take the lead.
However, when a technical project involving coding a new software feature comes his way, Lucas wisely says “no”, recognizing that it’s not a skill he counts on. Now, here's where the magic happens. Instead of leaving the project in limbo, Lucas employs the strategic 'yes, if' approach. He delegates the coding task to Marina, a team member known for her coding skills.
Here's a practical breakdown for your own strategic decision-making in delegation:
Assess Your Strengths: Identify areas where you excel and confidently say 'yes' to tasks that align with your expertise.
Acknowledge Limits: Recognize when a task is beyond your skill set, and confidently say 'no.' This is crucial for effective delegation.
Strategic Delegation - “Yes, If”: When saying 'no,' be prepared to follow up with a “yes, if” strategy. Identify a team member with the necessary skills and delegate accordingly.
Following these steps makes sure you use your team's strengths for each task. This not only helps get more work done but also makes the team work together better and faster!
Be Selective: Recognizing the importance of selectivity and strategically choosing tasks aligned with expertise. This approach ensures meaningful contributions and prevents burnout, ultimately benefiting the entire team.
Creating a Culture of Development
John C. Maxwell, an author of leadership development, unveils his strategy for creating a culture of development. Let's explore Maxwell's ideas and see how this method turns delegation into a boost for both individual and team success.
Giving Away Everything You Can
Maxwell's approach begins with a fundamental principle: If someone else can handle a task better than you, let them. Identifying his core strengths, Maxwell delegates administrative and financial tasks to experts, ensuring that each task aligns with the individual's proficiency.
Imagine you're a team leader with a strength in creative thinking and your team includes a member skilled in financial analysis, consider entrusting them with budget-related tasks. This way, you will make good use of their expertise, ensuring that financial matters are handled with precision while allowing you to focus on unleashing your creative potential for the team.
The 80% Rule
Central to Maxwell's strategy is the 80% rule. If someone can perform a task at least 80% as well as the leader, it becomes a candidate for delegation. This empowers leaders to focus on their strengths while entrusting tasks to team members who can execute them competently.
If you excel at project management, but one of your team members is proficient at organizing and coordinating tasks. Instead of overloading yourself, delegate some project coordination responsibilities to them. While they may not do it exactly as you would, if they can handle it at least 80% as well, it frees up your time to concentrate on higher-level project management tasks.
Training for Potential
He highlights discovering potential within the team and dedicating time to training. Consider his writer, Charlie Wetzel, as an example. Maxwell demonstrates how training someone with at least 80% potential in a task proves valuable. Team members not only understand how the leader thinks but also get better at it over time.
Let’s say you have a team member who shows potential in a specific skill, like data analysis, but lacks experience. Instead of shying away from delegating such tasks, invest time in training. Provide resources, share your thought processes, and offer constructive feedback. Over time, as you nurture their abilities, they become proficient, contributing more effectively to the team's goals.
Assessing Your Delegating Style
Maxwell tells leaders to think about how they delegate. Are there tasks they're keeping that take time away from important things? Are they giving out tasks without enough training? When leaders spend time training their team, it builds trust. This trust helps the team handle even the most important tasks well. According to Maxwell, this way of delegating doesn't just help individuals grow, but it also makes the whole team more successful.
Think of this like a music band where everyone has their special instruments. We learned from John C. Maxwell that it's smart for leaders to share tasks wisely, let others handle things about 80% as well, and teach new skills to the team. Just like a conductor leads a band, a leader guides the team, making sure each person's strengths add up to a great performance!