Monthly Archives: October 2012

To Delegate or Not? A Struggle for Leaders

To delegate or not? Delegation is one of biggest challenges for a leader in today’s work world.  With work loads increasing, more complex problems to solve and fewer staff to cover the bases it’s no surprise that anyone in a leadership role (managers, supervisors, team leads etc.) struggle with the who, what, when, why and how of delegating wisely.

Why is it so hard? 

As a executive coach, this is what I hear from both experienced leaders and emerging leaders in both corporate, government and non-profit business environments.

  • It takes too much time for me to explain it.
  • I’m not sure it will be done right.
  • I could do it faster, easier, cheaper etc.
  • If someone else does it – maybe I’m not needed as much.
  • I don’t want to bother people – they’re already working hard enough.
  • I don’t want to be self-important. (Jimmy Carter carrying his own suitcase)

Getting In Our Own Way

So the bottom line is that we often get in our own way.  Are we a perfectionist? No one else can do it as well as me.  Or do we delegate too much to one person that we trust but then others don’t get a chance. Are we concerned that if the other person does a great job that maybe – just maybe – we will be working our way out of a job.  Or maybe it’s simply the rush we get from being that “go-to” person all the time even if it means working 24/7.

Those are important questions to ask ourselves.  Are we actually the biggest obstacle to ourselves because we can’t get out of our own way?

What does a good role model look like?

Interesting, leaders often mention that they haven’t had a good role model in delegating over the years either from parents, colleagues or bosses.  So in a great round robin discussion these 7 qualities were identified by experienced leaders as critical for a “ideal delegator”.

  • They create a “culture of delegation”.
  • They create a “culture of mutual trust”.
  • They plan ahead so they aren’t “dumping” tasks on others.
  • They delegate “results” not just “activities”.
  • They delegate both important and maintenance tasks as well.
  • They have confidence in their staff and want to utilize their staff’s strengths.
  • They are truly committed to growing & developing their staff.

So how do you measure up? Are you willing to get out of the way and let others grow, develop and succeed?  If so, you will be delightfully surprised how it will help you be more productive, manage your time and energy better and ultimately provide greater benefits to your own company.  And the icing on the cake is less stressLet me know how you are doing!

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Using “We” For Sense of Ownership

It’s such a simple word “We”.  It’s easy to forget the emotional connection this simple word has the power to create.

Savvy leaders know this and they wisely use “we” in their communication with their functional and project teams.  They know that this word shifts people’s mindset from an “I” or “me” mentality to a shared vision and commitment.

Suddenly, there is a sense of ownership.  It’s subtle but the feeling is that we are in this all together – sink or swim – we are connected together and will all share in the success or failure of our efforts.

That’s very powerful.  And it’s simply a shift in language.  But it must be authentic.  The leader must be genuine in their belief that the synergy of highly motivated and committed people is through a sense of ownership.  As we know it truly “takes a village”.


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“The Art of Political Conversation” A Unique Workshop

What fun!  I was invited to speak on KJFK 230 AM this past Saturday morning, Sept. 29th, on “The Art of Political Conversation”.  Chip Evans and his co-host Verita Black Prothro are anchoring a progressive talk radio show “Get Real, America!” every Saturday morning at 9:00am dedicated to opening the conversation in Northern Nevada  on progressive issues and concerns.

Chip and I are an experienced political training team.  We have been working with the Nevada Democratic field organizers since 2004 on all aspects of leadership and political activism.  For this political cycle, we are offering our evenings and weekends to meet with  community groups and field organizers to teach the fine art of engaging in a political conversation without being triggered.  And that’s not easy in this political climate!

This is a fast moving, interactive 1 1/2 hour skills-based workshop. Participants get hands-on practice in these state-of-the-art communication skills.  And what Chip and I enjoy most is the feedback we get from the college students, Republicans turned Democrats and the many, many dedicated volunteers willing to spend their free time working on behalf of progressive values and condidates.  After every workshop, they tell us they have more confidence and more concrete tools to engage in that next conversation at the door, on the phone or with their Republican brother-in-law at Thanksgiving dinner.


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Quiet Leadership

Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work, by David Rock, HarperCollins Publishers, 2006.

I’ve had this hidden gem of a book tucked up on my bookshelf for several months. I recently pulled it out after both reading and listening to Rock’s more recent book, Your Brain at Work 2009. In both books, Rock helps us understand how our brains really do work (or don’t) and how this understanding can enhance our own performance, reduce unhealthy stress and allow us to enjoy our lives even more. In Quiet Leadership, Rock speaks directly to anyone in a leadership position and challenges them to get out of the way and let others do what they were hired to do – think!

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Creating the “Space” for Someone to Think

Give someone the “space” to think. I don’t mean just the physical space (which is very important) but also the time, quiet and the permission to think. And watch your company grow.

This is a relatively easy thing to do. As a leader you ask (rather than tell) some simple questions that are designed to open and expand someone else’s thinking power. They are doing the work, not you – and that’s what they were hired to do. It takes you setting aside your ego – the need to be the “expert,” to always be right and to be in control. It takes trusting that you really did hire the best of the best.

By asking simple, coach-oriented questions, you are creating the psychological space for someone else to think, create and to run with their ideas.

Here’s how this conversation could flow – very simple but very empowering. This is you as the leader speaking. Watch who’s doing all the work . . . not you, but the person you hire. You just got out of the way.

  1. “What have you already been thinking about?”
  2. “What would you recommend?”
  3. “What could get in the way?”
  4. “What resources do you need to move forward?”
  5. “How can I help you move forward on this?”
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