- What should I do more of?
- What should I do less of?
- What should I start doing?
- What should I STOP doing?
I was involved this week in an animated discussion on leadership during a one-to-one with a member of my Vistage CEO peer group when I was trying to rate the significance of a range of leadership functions.
It is task that many sages, far wiser than I, would balk at or offer some thoughts with perhaps slant towards the controversial.
Personally I like “The people want me to be their leader. I must follow them”.
The fact is that great leadership demands an inordinately long list of attributes that taken as a group describe a paragon of all the virtues. Sadly I haven’t met such an individual as yet even if I have been privileged to know some remarkable candidates.
In the end leaders need followers and the key to great leadership is the ability to manage expectations, to assist people to become engaged and generally to develop a communication style that is consistent, transparent and clear.
Above all the human need to be involved must be severely curtailed. There is nothing more demeaning to a team member than being constantly told what to do and then checked to see if it has been done. That is micro-managing.
Micro-managing the people is not leadership. It is two people doing the job of one and is expensive as a consequence. Indeed I recall that in the early days of Vistage in the UK, we used to give out card bookmarks with some wise leadership questions, one of which was:
“Whose job am I doing right now?”.
It is enormously tempting for a leader to ask for a task to be done, then to describe how to accomplish the task, who to talk to, where to find information and how long it should take. All of this the leader knows (as probably does the team member) and assumes that it will be helpful information.
Wise people have said on many occasions that the best way to develop people is to appoint the very best then say what is needed and let them get on with it. It should not be necessary, in general, to monitor constantly their performance in detail.
If we appoint great people then it should be a matter of trust and hopefully mutual trust, to expect that they will accomplish the task in a way that they decide is the most appropriate. As long as it is honest, legal, effective and understandable then that should be sufficient. The only questions then to ask are when will it be completed and what will be the expected outcome?
All of this implies that the answer is delegation and that further implies that the leader must know precisely what outcome is desired and who in the team is most likely to achieve the desired outcome.
It is a good idea from both points of view to understand that monitoring progress is desirable and constant nagging questioning is decidedly not.
A regular meeting, say weekly, with a progress report detailed as necessary, will help the leader to understand the current position and possibly even eliminate the need for further questioning.
Delegation is not abdication of responsibility; it is the ability of the leader to trust the ability of the team member (whom he/she has probably appointed in the first place) to undertake a task resulting in a mutually satisfactory outcome.
We need to resist the “leave it to me, I’ll do it” syndrome. Tempting though it may be we might just find that other people can undertake a task more effectively, more quickly and more satisfactorily than we can so give then their head and get out of their way.
- What should I do More of?
- What should I do Less of?
- What should I Start doing?
- What should I STOP doing?
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