Empower – set limits
Empowering your team
One of the most difficult transitions for leaders to make is the shift from doing to leading. As your responsibilities become more complex, the difference between an effective leader and an individual contributor with a leader’s title is painfully evident.
I have personally experienced this when providing support to a leader in a not-for-profit organisation. The leader in question had always been a “do-er” and revelled in seeing the fruits of their labour lead to positive outcomes for the organisation. As this leader was given more and more responsibilty for leading a team, their focus had to shift away from “doing” to empowering others to do and for someone who really enjoyed being down in the trenches, this shift to overseeing was challenging. They found it very difficult as they couldn’t neccesarily see tangible results from their own work, so we worked hard on helping them understand that thew results of the team were now the important element and their role was to provide the environment in which their team could thrive.
Are you stuck in the trenches?
To know if you’re guilty of holding on to too much, answer this simple question: If you had to take an unexpected week off work, would your initiatives and priorities advance in your absence?
If you answered no or if you’re unsure, then you may be more involved than essential. To raise the ceiling of your leadership potential, you need to extend your presence through the actions of others.
Start with your reasons. When people lack understanding about why something matters and how they fit into it, they are less likely to care. But if you give them context about what’s at stake, how they fit into the big picture, and what’s unique about the opportunity, then you increase personal relevance and the odds of follow-through.
Inspire their commitment. People get excited about what’s possible, but they commit only when they understand their role in making it happen. Once you’ve defined the work, clarified the scope of their contribution, and ensured that it aligns with their capacity, carefully communicate any and all additional expectations for complete understanding.
Engage at the right level. It’s essential to stay involved, but the degree matters. You should maintain engagement levels sufficient for you to deliver the agreed-upon mix of support and accountability. However, there are risks when the mix is not right: Too involved, and you could consciously or inadvertently micromanage those around you; too hands-off, and you could miss the critical moments where a supportive comment or vital piece of feedback would be essential.
Give Authority as well as Responsibility. Foster an environment and culture where people feel they’re able to make decisions, ask questions, and take the necessary steps to complete the work. Give left and right limits, so that team members know how far they are authorised to make decisions in either direction and provide support and oversight if they feel the need to go outside those limits.
Effective delegation brings a wealth of benefits – it frees the leader up to focus on the bigger picture and gives team members experience of taking more responsibilty, plus it helps increase the level or trust in the leadership – when done well it’s a win-win.