Thursday, May 9, 2013

Master Delegator? Boss or Leader

"You're a master delegator," a colleague told me recently. Delegation was something that didn't always come naturally. For me, it involves knowing who and how much authority to grant to get a job done. As a leader, delegating work has gotten easier. When I first started, I was frightened to do it. Who could do the job as well as I? But then, once jobs came along that I wasn't the expert at, I realized that delegating well was a necessity of the job. If I didn't give up the job, then the organization would suffer. To help with delegation, the "who will do what by when" question became very important. It solves issues easily and allows you to change expectations for when work gets done. It also makes accountability a whole lot easier.

But delegation reminds me an awful lot of the top part of the image above. While not sure of the source of this image, I do have to admit it hit me between the eyes. That may be because I'm off my exercise schedule and starting to feel a bit thicker around the waist as I sit at my desk, working through emails and crafting memos and missives. What worries most about being the boss who sits at his desk is the message I convey to staff--sitting at your desk is OK as long as you're getting things done.

It's pretty easy to be sedentary, especially when you're getting a lot accomplished. But it's critical to get off your rear-end and get "out there" building relationships. I was reminded of that at a principals' meeting when one administrator shared, "It's all about the relationships." He'd just finished laying out the facts of a situation with his faculty, and kindly telling the person to "shut up about it." I LOVED his approach because it was clear to me that, while I would never say "shut up," (even at home), the depth of the relationship with his team made that action possible. Brutal honesty in velvet tones.

How do you build relationships like that? Simple principles exercised over time, I suppose:

  • Stay on message...
  • Transparent decision-making that involves stakeholders, that isn't afraid of pushback (or being afraid, asks for critical feedback of ideas).
  • Unswerving dedication to the organization that serves
  • Relationship building.
It's that last one that I always feel I fall short of. Somewhere, I have a Flip Flippen assessment to show I need to build rapport with my direct reports. Sure, it's 5 years old, but it's easy to fall into old habits of behavior...I'm often reminded that who we are often flows from our nature, and that's hard to change. It's do-able, but requires constant, daily, minute-by-minute dedication until the new behavior becomes the new normal.

So, what percent of your decisions as a leader fall into the top half of the image? The bottom half? And, are those numbers you want to have as your legacy, as your model to the people you serve?

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