The situation looked hopeless. The planet Delegon was inhospitable on a good day, but this was the worst. The half dozen earthlings huddled behind a big rock and assessed their situation. “How are we ever going to get out of this mess?” asked Susan, their leader. “I don’t know, goshdarnit,” said Joe as he grimaced from the laser wound in his leg (this is how real soldiers talk; often called “soldier speak”). “We’re outnumbered 40 to 1,” observed Frank, the analytical one in the group. We need more manpower, or we don’t stand a chance. We’re going to be annihilated.” Susan surveyed the team and quickly made an executive decision. She gathered them around her and looked intently in their eyes. “Ladies and gentleman, we’ve got a bear of a situation on our hands. If we’re going to have any real chance for victory, I’m going to need you to suck it up and go forth and multiply.” And lo and behold, they did. As if by magic, each member of the team began to split into 2 separate people, and then 4 and then 8 and then 16, literally self duplicating…. and that, boys and girls, was how we achieved the great victory of Delegon in the year 2074 that you now read about in our history books.
In case you haven’t had a chance to read this particular history book, you may want to create a historical victory of your own in your organization. If you happen not to have the capability to actual biological duplication, you may want to consider delegating responsibility and authority as an effective and viable alternative.
Delegating responsibility and authority is a valuable method of multiplying your organizational strength and effectiveness, but please note that in order to work these two must remain a matched pair. If you want to set someone else up for certain failure, delegate responsibility without enough authority and control to actually get the results you’ve asked for. It’s like watching an ant fry on hot roofing tin in July; it’s not pretty.
Many leaders here on earth labor long hours to make their teams and organizations successful and victorious. You can recognize these leaders easily by the dark circles under their eyes and their grumpy interpersonal styles. However, one wonders if they have lost sight of an important fact: as a leader your primary goal is not to get as much work done as you can, but to get a lot of people to get as much work done as they can. One person quickly runs out of time and energy to accomplish results, but an army of people (even a small one) can easily do much more.
So why do these earth leaders struggle so with what seems to be a simple concept and an easy victory? Once again it’s public enemy number 1; fear. The internal dialogue sounds something like, “I’m responsible for this and I know I can do a good job of it. If I turn it over to this person he/she might make a mistake, and then I’ll be in trouble.”
Well guess what folks? Delegating is a little scary for all of us, but when you’re doing your risk/reward analysis, be sure to evaluate the risks of not delegating. Your ability to influence your team and organization becomes so limited that your failure is assured. Therefore, the right question to ask becomes not “Should I delegate?” but “When and how should I delegate?”
Technique #1: Delegate any time the task does not require your personal skills and expertise (does the President really need to count the paper clips?).
Technique #2: Surround yourself with quality team members that you can trust and feel confident delegating to.
Technique #3: Establish clears goals, measures, and periodic updates so that both you and the person you delegate to know how you’re doing and whether you’re succeeding.
Technique #4: Don’t micromanage; delegate the details especially. Give people room to make reasonable mistakes and learn; that’s how they get better for the next time you need to delegate to them.
Copyright Terry "Doc" Dockery, Ph.D. All rights reserved.