Have well do you delegate?
How do you know for sure?
Would your leader agree?
“When in doubt, mumble; when in trouble, delegate; when in charge, ponder.”
– James H. Boren
Delegating is the process of granting or transferring authority from one person (the Delegator) to another (the Delegatee) to do something (the Assignment).
This empowers the Delegatee to act independently with the appropriate resources to accomplish the assignment. The Delegator remains responsible for the Delegatee’s acts or omissions in carrying out the purpose of the assignment. The Delegator doesn’t have to be a superior. Delegator’s are often peers, friends, or even superiors.
Delegating is critical to the success and effectiveness of both leaders and followers because the leader can’t do everything.
“Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers. We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are men of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away.”
– Admiral James B. Stockdale
As a Leader:
You can never convince your followers that you trust them unless you’re willing to delegate your assigned duties and problems to them. Delegation saves money and time, motivates followers, and creates more effective teams. This empowers your followers to act independently with the appropriate resources to accomplish your assignments.
When delegating, 5% of the leader’s job is telling his followers what he wants done, the other 95% is following through to ensure it gets done.
And, your followers must be able to function in your absence. If not, you have set them up for failure. Develop, nurture, and use others as a resource to act on your behalf.
As a Follower:
You can never become an effective follower, gain experience or credibility without the opportunity to perform. Your job is to consistently produce excellent results that contribute to your leader’s goals. The more assigned duties you successfully perform for your leader, the more your effectiveness, success, and credibility will grow.
What must the Leader Delegate to Survive?
Which leader duties should be delegated and to whom? First, the leader can’t delegate away his responsibilities.
Leaders are responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen within their unit.
But he can delegate his authority. The only question is WHAT should be delegated and TO WHOM?
Here’s the SECRET:
For any leader to be effective, he must assign every one of his
assigned duty to a follower as part of their Job Description.
Leaders have two categories of duties: Assigned and Inherent.
- Assigned duties are duties stated in a Job Description
- Inherent duties are generic leader ONLY duties expected and performed by all leaders that cannot be reassigned
Since the responsibility for all duties (both assigned and inherent) belong to the leader, delegate each assigned duty to a follower and train them how to perform these duties to standard. This may sound somewhat strange at first. But, if the leader fails to do this, he’ll quickly be overwhelmed.
The most important Leader ONLY Inherent duties that will consume 90% of their time and energy include:
- Traveling and attending meetings they must attend
- Conducting internal meetings
- Briefings those they must brief
- Responding to emails, voicemails, and other correspondence
- Delegating assignments and problems to team members to resolve
- Training members how to successfully complete projects
- Solving problems that only the leader must check on and/or resolve
- Extinguishing last minute fires only they can put out
- Conducting interviews, performance reviews, organizing, and building teams
- Checking, inspecting, re-inspecting, visiting, and organizing
- Planning, delegating, setting goals, standards, and priorities
- Supervising, following-up, reprimanding, and promoting
- Counseling, inspiring, motivating, praising, and encouraging
- Consoling, challenging, and coaching
As you consider all these leader ONLY inherent duties, realize that they’re the most important things any leader can do. This is the primary reason the leader should delegate all his assigned duties to his followers. As a follower, the more leader assigned duties you can successfully perform, the more effective you become. Effective leaders know that they can never consistently produce excellent results without developing, nurturing, and enabling their team members to act on his behalf.
Important Delegation Terms
Leader: The person in-charge, responsible for a team of people
Follower: Someone who reports directly to a leader for their work assignments. This term is interchangeably with employee, subordinate, associate, direct report, or worker)
Team: A group of followers who report to the same leader for their work assignments
Assignment: Anything you are asked or expected to do or perform.
Task: Assignment that one person can easily complete
Project: Assignment that requires the effort of others (like events or activities). Also, every project will have sub-projects, tasks, and sub-tasks that must be completed to ensure the success of the project.
Requested Assignment: New assignment that you will be asked to perform by your leader.
Expected Assignment: Assignment that is already part of your job description that you will not be asked to perform. An example might be a recruiting event or a trade show.
Here are a few suggestions of how to enhance your ability to delegate:
“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
– Ernest Hemingway
Do you know the most important component to delegation? You should not be surprised that it’s trust. How much does your leader trust you? How much trust do you have with your followers?
Why are some leaders reluctant to delegate?
The main phobia leaders have is losing control. I get it. However, the truth is that you never had control in the first place.
Control is an illusion! But, influence, through persuasion, is achievable.
The sooner you realize this fact, the quicker you’ll achieve serenity and let others do their job. The key to delegating is to do so gradually.
Why is trust so important to delegating?
How much does your leader trust you? How much do you trust your followers? Trust involves many variables. If you’ve worked with the follower for a while, you’ll have a better feel for his capabilities and limitations. Since we all mature at our pace, each of your followers will be at a different level of maturity or a different level of personal responsibility. Delegation is far more than just asking someone to do something.
Are there different degrees of delegating?
You bet! Since delegation is about trust and granting authority, there are definite degrees of delegating. Here’s a list showing the different degrees of delegating starting with granting very little authority and little trust and ending with granting full authority and complete trust:
- Get the facts and bring them to me for action (little trust & authority)
- Develop alternatives and I’ll take action based on the facts
- Be prepared to take action, but don’t do anything until I say so
- Tell me what you propose to do and when
- Analyze the situation, take action, and tell me the results
- Just go! Here’s the situation, deal with it! (complete trust and authority)
Know your REDCAPS
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
– Abraham Lincoln
REDCAPS are your Responsibilities, Expectations, Duties,
Constraints, Authority, Projects, and Standards.
Have you ever been surprised by implied, expected or otherwise fuzzy requirements from your leader? To avoid this, work hard to get clarity from your leader in these categories:
What are your Responsibilities? Responsibility is defined as a duty or obligation to satisfactorily perform or complete a task that one must fulfill, and which has a consequent penalty for failure. Your duties and responsibilities are found in your job description and can also be assigned to you by your leader. Accepting complete responsibility for what you say and do (and what you fail to do and say) and the consequences are the first step to becoming effective. Effective team members understand that only their leader bears the ultimate responsibility for the decision and the result. Once the decision is made, they set aside their personal opinions and get to work executing the decision.
What are your Leader’s Expectations? Expectations come directly from your leader and the company. Ask your leader for his expectations and goals for you and take careful notes. If they’re not clear, ask for clarification. What does your leader expect of you in the first 90 days, year? Also, know your leader’s REDCAPS and goals, as well as his priorities.
What are your Duties? Your duties, like your responsibilities, are an obligation to satisfactorily perform or complete a task that has a consequent penalty for failure. Your duties are the tasks your leader needs you to perform and are found in your job description and can also be assigned to you by your leader.
What are your Constraints? Constraints include imperatives and restrictions: Imperatives are things you must do (like meeting the goals for your unit), and Restrictions are things you must not do (like not accepting gifts from vendors), which come from your leader and your organization’s policies and procedures and includes borders and limits.
Borders are official/unofficial lines dividing one area from another telling who is responsible for what.
Limits are the point at which something ends or beyond which it becomes something else (like the limit of your authority to decide or to act).
What do you have the Authority to do? Authority is your leader’s permission given to a trusted member to take certain agreed-upon actions on the leader’s behalf in support of the member’s official duties and responsibilities. Authority, unlike responsibility, can be given (granted, limited) to perform a specific assignment. When a leader asks a team member to perform an assignment, he is giving his authority (with limitations) to act on his behalf. Authority can include things like the ability to make work assignments, hire and fire, make decisions, or spend money.
What are your Projects? Projects consists of three categories: Past projects that were completed before your arrival, Current projects that are incomplete, pending or remain unfulfilled, and Future projects that are coming up soon
What are the Standards you must maintain? Standards are the established norm or required minimum level of conformity to organizational policy, criteria, methods, processes, practices, and expectations for both results and behavior. The standard must also satisfy the needs and expectations of your leader and your customer. To find the standards that apply to you, review all organizational guidance, policies, standards of conduct and behavior along with any Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), and your leader’s goals and standards for results.
To put this all together, start by documenting all your Responsibilities, Expectations, Duties, Constraints, Authority, Projects, Standards by:
- Reviewing your Job Description with your leader
- Asking your leader for his REDCAPS, goals, and expectations
- Asking your peers for any hidden REDCAPS
- Asking your predecessor (if available) about any hidden or unstated REDCAPS
Ideally, the leader’s goal is to have his team members assume shared responsibility, which is called ownership. Ownership means that a follower feels a sense of shared responsible and accountable for their duties, responsibilities, and assignments. How does the leader do that? When the leader speaks with his followers, he says things like, “how’s your project coming? That’s your baby. Great work on your project!” And when they say, “my project,” now the leader has confirmed ownership and mutual responsibility.
Let me be clear, the leader is still responsible. However, the trick is to delegate in such a way that everything gets done, especially in the leader’s absence, without things going too far astray.
When In-Charge, Take Charge!
As far as your leader is concerned, if he assigned you to be In-Charge of an assignment – the assignment belongs to you – and you’re the Project Lead.
Caution: Sometimes your leader will make a follower the Coordinator for a project. In the military, it’s often called the Point of Contact (or POC). Sometimes it’s called the Lead, Point Person, or Facilitator. These are all ways of saying that you’re In-Charge, with limitations. Only your leader can tell you the extent of those limitations.
If in doubt, ask! Make no assumptions. Once you know your level of authority to act, Take Charge and make it happen! Your leader is counting on you. Don’t let him down. Do you have his limited authority to make decisions, assign work, hire and fire, spend money or set priorities? Get clear about all your Responsibilities, Expectations, Duties, Constraints, Authority, Projects, and Standards (REDCAPS). Your job is to plan, prepare, execute, and assess the project from start to finish. Be Proactive! Make things happen!
Be Sensitive to Unity of Effort
Unity of Effort is a concept centered around “ONLY One Person” being In-Charge an organization or project. This ensures that a well-organized and understood chain of authority exists for the clear flow of instructions and feedback, and to eliminate confusion, lack of teamwork, and a failure to synergize. If you’re ever in a situation where you’re 1 of 2 people In-Charge of a project, have the moral courage to either flip a coin or to subordinate yourself (to a #2 position) for the good of the team. There can only be one person In-Charge.
Don’t violate the Reporting Chain
A Reporting Chain reveals working relationships, who you work for, who works for you, and who your leader works for, which is normally found in an organizational chart. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who you work for, who works for you (your followers), and who your leader reports his results.
A simple structural or organizational chart should answer these questions. These relationships are also known as the Chain of Command or Chain of Authority. You need this information to get things done. Ensure your followers understand these relationships, and not step-on-toes by trying to get things done without following the chain.
Some leaders are extremely territorial and emotionally sensitive about others going directly to their followers, without going through them first. As a new person, you don’t want to make enemies by violating the chain. Also, your leader will not think kindly of you discussing business with his leader, or other Line and Staff Leaders, without his knowledge. If this happens, tell your leader.
Be Accountable to your Leader
“When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the
former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.”
– David Brin
Accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain, and be answerable for resulting consequences.
You are accountable to your leader for everything that happens or
fails to happen within your areas of responsibility.
Accountability cannot exist unless team members know those things (people, processes, goals, facilities, and equipment) for which they are accountable, which is normally found in each member’s Job Description.
Effective leaders know that accountability is often confused with responsibility and is normally not a problem until something goes wrong. For example, if something goes wrong within your area of responsibility, you will get the opportunity to explain to your leader what happened and what is being done to ensure it never happens again.
Sometimes, depending on the severity of the problem, your leader will not be happy with you. This may seem unfair or unreasonable, especially if you didn’t make the mistake – one of your members did. It doesn’t matter.
If you are the leader, you’re responsible for everything that happens or fails to happen within your unit. When things go wrong, don’t take it personally, take it professionally and fix it. What most people don’t understand is that Responsibility and Accountability go together; they’re part of the same iceberg.
Unfortunately, you can’t see the Accountability part of the iceberg, because it lies hidden beneath the surface until something goes wrong.
When things go wrong, which they will, your leader’s job is to ask you for an explanation. Your leader expects you to know or to find out what happened, what caused it to happen, and what are you going to do to fix it, so it never happens again? Leaders understand that things will go wrong. All they want you to do is to step up, find out what happened, report what caused it, and what is being done to fix it. Or, if you cannot fix it, what do you recommend be done so it never happens again.
What your leader doesn’t need is for you to play the blame game,
make excuses, or hide the truth.
Instead, take these actions:
- First, Investigate – what happened and what caused it to happen?
- Second, Return and Report – report to your leader the facts and your recommendation.
- Third, Fix it and Fix it for good!
- Last, Return and Report – when fixed, report the fix to your leader.
Establish the reputation of being a good problem solver as well as a good problem finder. Leader’s like it when you anticipate problems before they become a crisis. Your job is to help your leader find, fix, and eliminate all distractions or obstacles that could slow or stop the achievement of his goals.
We all make mistakes. This is how we learn. However, mistakes, errors, and defects are not a problem if they’re caught and fixed before they leave your unit. The acid-test for accountability is the absence of blaming others and making excuses.
What systems (checks, procedures, rehearsals, preventive actions, QC, or Testing) are in place to catch mistakes and errors before they leave your unit?
Maintain your Personal Accountability
Personal accountability only comes as you mature and become a Fully Functioning Adult. Unfortunately, very few of those you’ll encounter in the workplace have a fully developed sense of personal accountability or maturity. This is your chance to stand out from the rest. Personal accountability is a willingness to accept the consequences of your actions/inactions; what you say and do, what you fail to say and do, and how it affects those around you.
It’s also an obligation and duty to ensure your good character and behavior regardless of how you were brought up and what kind of conditioning you’ve received. When you fully accept that you’re completely accountability for yourself, and realize that no one is coming to your rescue, this is the beginning of peak performance. And, there’s very little you can’t do or have after you accept this motto:
“If it is to be, it is up to me!” – Anonymous
Check, Check, RECHECK
I’m often asked, is checking a Sign of Distrust? My answer is always, NO. And, here’s why.
Mistakes, errors, and faults are not a problem unless you fail to catch
and correct them before they leave your business unit.
The leader’s job is to check. It’s not a sign of distrusting anyone. It’s just the opposite. The reason you’re checking is to see if everything is okay and no one needs help. While your internal systems can assist in assessing performance, you remain the most important performance assessor. Effective leaders visit and spot-check their team members, equipment, and other resources.
Also, adopt best business practices, goals, and check and ensure organizational standards are being met. While you’re spot checking, find opportunities to engage in impromptu coaching. Checking is nothing more than knowing the standards and paying attention while observing your members, and noting discrepancies and successes.
As a leader, never under estimate the power of your presence. Effective leaders are upfront and visible to their followers to inspire confidence and trust. Your absence solicits just the opposite impression. So, get out there! Let your members see you. Interact, get involved and make a difference by your presence alone. This is the only way you’ll ever know what’s really going on.
To be continued: If you’d like to learn more about enhancing your ability to delegate, you can do so by adding this book to your professional library, today!
YOUR GUIDE TO BETTER DELEGATING
Here you’ll learn:
Chapter 2: Important Delegation Concepts
Chapter 3: Phases of the Delegation Process
Chapter 4: Options When Receiving an Assignment
Chapter 5: Negotiating the Details
Chapter 6: Delegating Projects
Chapter 7: What You Must Delegate to Survive
Chapter 8: Tracking all the Moving Parts
Chapter 9: Reasons Projects Fail
Chapter 10: Your Key to Success: Follow up
You now have the chance to enhance your career by learning how to become more effective tomorrow than you are today.
Or, you can take advantage of our Special Offer below.
To SAVE 75%, purchase The Effectiveness Guide, which contains all 10 Volumes, instead of buying each volume separately.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
CHAPTER 1: BY BECOMING A BETTER FOLLOWER
CHAPTER 2: BY BECOMING A BETTER DELEGATOR
CHAPTER 3: BY BECOMING A BETTER PLANNER
CHAPTER 4: BY BECOMING A BETTER ORGANIZER
CHAPTER 5: BY BECOMING A BETTER COMMUNICATOR
CHAPTER 6: BY BECOMING A BETTER PROBLEM SOLVER
CHAPTER 7: BY ENHANCING YOUR AWARENESS
CHAPTER 8: BY BECOMING A BETTER TRAINER
CHAPTER 9: BY ENHANCING YOUR ABILITY TO MOTIVATE
CHAPTER 10: BY ENHANCING YOUR CHARACTER
APPENDIX A: PLAN OF ACTION EXAMPLE
APPENDIX B: REAL WORLD PROBLEM SOLVING EXAMPLE
APPENDIX C: ADVANCE PROBLEM SOLVING WITH VUCA
APPENDIX D: CAREER ADVICE
APPENDIX E: CREATING MISSION AND VISION STATEMENTS
The Effectiveness Guide is the best investment you’ll ever make in your career.
Also, if you feel this information could help someone else, please take a few moments to let them know. If it turns out to make a difference in their life, they’ll be forever grateful to you – as will I.
Let’s make a difference together – one person at a time!
All the best!
Founder of TheCAREERMaker.com
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The 10 Core Competencies of Effectiveness
Followership | Delegating | Planning | Organizing | Communicating
Problem-Solving | Awareness | Training | Motivating | Character