Last week, I wrote about some of the challenges that keep us from delegating important work to others – and why John Wayne was part of the problem (if you haven’t read it, I encourage you to – it created a flurry of opinions and comments worth reading as well!). Once you get past these challenges, there is really good news. . . you are freed up to do what you were really hired to do. When you aren’t trying to “do it all,” when you have empowered and delegated successfully to others, now you can do the more important work of leadership – work that won’t likely get done otherwise.
This includes . . .
Thinking strategically. As a leader, you are asked to do more than just “do the work.” You are asked to think about the direction of your team, to adjust the goals, to coordinate efforts, and much more. When was the last time you scheduled time in your calendar (and kept it) to think about your direction and strategy? This is part of your job, and if you are out putting out all the fires and solving all the problems, you will never get around to focusing on this important activity.
Communicating. Every organization I’ve ever worked in or with has felt they could communicate more effectively. Communication is hard, and the leader must do it often. Of course, everyone needs to communicate, but the example comes from you – and the processes to support it in others comes from you, too. When you engage your team in the work in front of them, you can spend more time focusing on your important communications role.
Providing resources. If you aren’t doing all the work, you are able to see a broader perspective and are better able to see what resources are needed, and anticipate when they will be needed. Providing resources and removing barriers are two critical roles of leaders, and it is difficult to do this if you are busy doing the work yourself.
Engaging, empowering, and delegating important work to others doesn’t mean you sit behind your desk and do nothing – the things just mentioned are work too! And even so, the best leaders know that there is a time and season to roll up their sleeves and help. Delegation doesn’t mean abdication or throwing people under the bus. Ultimate team success requires you to help –when and where it is needed.
In the movies, the hero always gets the job done (and gets the girl) – but those are just the movies. You lead in the real world, and in the real world, to achieve anything close to what you are capable of, you must involve, enlist, and engage others in your vision of the future.