Sunday, 26 January 2014

Week 20: The Art of Delegation #SAVMP

Successful delegation of authority as a leadership style takes time and energy, but it’s worth the time and energy build other leaders. This week, have a conversation and decide who YOU can empower. Delegate!
This is a question I like to think about a lot.  It is one of joys and great responsibilities of a leadership position.  You can't do even a good job leading a group of people if you try to micro manage every aspect of the life of an organization.  

Unfortunately, it is something that I see happening all the time.  In this week's SAVMP blog, the point is clearly made that you need to know the people you work with, their strengths and weaknesses and you need to realize that any school community can only be great if you as the leader call on the unique talents of every staff member to develop your unique learning environment.

You simply have to trust those who work with you.

Years ago, I worked as a member of a youth leadership camp.  For six days, 140 high school students from around the province joined us to learn more about leadership.  Our goal was to assist them on the journey they were already on and hopefully develop their skills so that they could make a greater contribution when they returned to their school communities - no small task.

We had 25 staff - mostly teachers - from around the province.  We had all been chosen by the camp leader and we had the sense that we all had something important to contribute.
At one meeting up at camp, probably a day before camp started, our leader called us all together and began to talk to each one of us about the unique skills we brought to this community.  He spoke without notes - from the heart.  I have never forgotten this.  It was one of the most important lessons I have ever learned about leadership.  

What made this experience unique and important is that he knew what we could contribute and he trusted us to play a significant role in developing the leadership skills of these young people.  We were certainly empowered by this experience.  There was no question that we were trusted and that we were capable of great things.

A few years later, I was asked to be the director of the camp.  While I was certainly terrified by the challenge, I was also convinced that the camp leader had absolutely no doubt in my ability to do the job.  

Things went well and my own confidence in myself grew accordingly.

This is what delegation is.  You see the strength in an individual and you trust them with greater responsibility.  You push them to do things that they may not believe that they could do on their own. 

As a leader you have to think of this - what if I don't recognize the strengths in another person?  What if no one sees the potential in that person?  What will be lost if that person is not encouraged to take on a larger role?

I have to say that as a profession we may do a good job of this with our students, but I am not convinced that we do a good job of this with adults.  What would have happened to me if this person hadn't been around to recognize how I could contribute more?
It's not like we need a lot of these experiences, we only need one person to recognize our gifts.  You as a leader may be that one person so it is very important that you take your responsibility seriously.

My advice - don't over manage, it is easy to do and it shows no faith in others.  Take risks on other people, you may be the only one who does.  Realize that as a leader you are only as strong as the people you work with - help them to become stronger.
You have to believe in others then great things can happen.

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1 comment:

  1. Greetings Paul,

    Another great post. I really enjoyed learning about your own experience from the "flip side" of this leadership trait. It was great to see how someone took a chance on you and cultivated your talents.

    This is one of my favorite things to grow folks and develop their shared ownership in our tasks. The best feeling is when you have everyone working together so well, that all you do is oversee. I prefer things to run smoothly vs. me being knee deep in all of the details.

    The terrible feeling is the one where you have delegated and folks have failed and you have to step in and do some of the micro-managing. Yuck. That is where I always have to decide whether it is a capacity issue or a lack of understanding the expectations.

    Bless you, Paul. It is a joy to learn from you.