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Champion Leadership Blog

Champion Leadership Tip #7 – The 4 Rules of Effective Delegation

Delegation is like flossing your teeth.

It’s something we are told we need to do regularly but instead we do it infrequently and not thorough enough. Thus, we get poor results from it and refrain from doing more frequently. It’s a downward cycle we need to turnaround.

Great leaders delegate for success!

The best way for leaders to grow into better leaders themselves is to invest in delegating to their direct reports, yet so many are challenged by it.

The challenge comes from fear. Fear of their direct reports not fulfilling the task as comprehensively at as high a level, fear of a lack of follow-through, fear of being seen as dumping grunt work downward, fear of giving too much responsibility to someone not ready for it, fear of having to invest too much time to train/coach someone when the leader could just do it themselves. Which excuse have you used?

Yet, if leaders want to grow their departments or their business overall the number one skill they have to master is delegation. Effective delegation can provide a multitude of results, such as:

  • Improved productivity for the leader
  • Greater opportunities for strategic thinking by the leader
  • Improved self-confidence and self-esteem of the direct reports
  • Improved motivation as the direct report begins working on hire level projects and decisions
  • Higher levels of trust between the leader and direct reports

There are only 4 Key Rules to Effective Delegation leaders need to keep in mind to do it successfully:

Delegation Rule #1
Its about delegation, not abdication – leaders will continue to have ultimate responsibility for the delegated activity getting done and must check-in regularly and possibly coach and mentor until direct report masters the required task. Depending on the level of the person being delegated to leaders will need to balance the accountability with giving too much respect and autonomy.

Delegation Rule #2
Specificity in instructions, directions, details and expectations a MUST – without all of the above leaders offer their direct reports nothing but fear and uncertainty in moving forward to learn the task and what is expected from them. This will guarantee a failed delegation experience, preventing a desire for further opportunities on both sides.

Delegation Rule #3
Its about a successful result, not a specific process – too many leaders are in love with their methodology and tactics. There are more ways than one to skin a cat. Allow the person being delegated to to do it their own way at first and they may surprise you with their ability. They may even have a better way. Either way, debrief after to decide the best way to do it next time, and if it really doesn’t matter let them do it their way.

Delegation Rule #4
Failure Is Just a Learning Opportunity – Both the leader and the direct report must be open to allowing failure. Growth comes through learning and learning comes through failure. Allow failure, use it as a teachable moment and build from there.

Have fun!

Great Leaders Measure for Success

I am writing because I recently had a conversation with a prospect regarding a consulting project that I think has value for other organizational leaders.

This prospect and I agreed on the project objectives and then I asked how were we going to measure success and our progress towards those objectives. His reply left me speechless:

“I don’t know and I don’t care about a return on the investment, I just want us to be the best we can be,” he said.

I’m confused. How can you be “the best you can be” if you don’t know how to measure progress between where you are and where you are going? It’s impossible.

Great leaders determine metrics to measure performance and growth towards desired success levels.

One of “The 3 Strategies of Champion Organizations” I wrote about in my white paper earlier this year is “performance management.” This means organizations that want to be Champions must measure performance with clear standards and metrics.

This is standard in sports. Athletes are constantly measured by their statistical performance. There are box scores in the newspaper everyday, stats are lit up on a scoreboard. Fans, coaches, teammates, media and owners know how whether the athletes are performing to expectations.

And, it is well documented how if performance isn’t at or above the expected standards, changes are made.

Business and organizational leaders must take the same approach.

How can you, as a leader, be better at the following:

  • Defining specific performance standards and expectations with measurable metrics;
  • Communicating the importance of tracking these performance measures;
  • Coaching your team members to move towards achieving the performance standards
  • Be willing to make appropriate changes if the performance standards can not be met after reasonable efforts at development.

But, my main point of this post is that you really can’t be a successful leader if you are not willing to clearly identify measurable results.

What do you think?

Here’s a link for to learn how to get better at managing for high performance.

Champion Leadership Tip #6 – Focus On Being Respected, Not Liked

Because I was young and naive when I took a leadership position during my first career in Minor League Baseball management, my focus as a leader was to keep everybody happy so they would “like me.”

Big mistake!

This leadership strategy backfired and had the reverse affect. However, it took a long time, like 10 years, before I realized I needed to improve my leadership skills.

Focusing on just “being liked” caused me to be slow in making decisions, to not tell people the complete truth, to promise things I couldn’t deliver and just be wishy-washy in general. These are not the traits of a strong leader and create a low-morale, low trust work environment.

As years went by and I carried that leadership approach into my future roles as general manager and president of other franchises, I continued to struggle with environments that evolved into low morale workplaces. Years later, when the stress of these negative work environments became too great for me to ignore (one situation led directly to the dissolution of my first marriage), I realized that I had to step up and improve my leadership skills and begin to address issues promptly, directly and respectfully.

When I made that shift in my approach, my focus changed. I began to focus on becoming a respected leader first, and a leader that was liked, second.

When you focus on being respected. You can be both respected and liked as a leader. Not everyone will like you, but over time they will respect you. Those that truly do not like or agree with your style will move on to an environment that fits more with their personality. When that happens you will find more people joining your team that are attracted to your style.

How to do this is more art than science and next week I’ll write about how to balance the two most important people management techniques so that you can become a respected and liked leader.

But, first you have to make a decision do you want to…

1) Focus on being “liked” by those you lead and you will be neither liked or respected, or

2) Focus on being “respected” by those you lead and you will be respected and have great chance at being “liked” too.

If you would like to improve the leadership skills of those in your organization it starts with understanding the foundation of influential leadership communication, which I train and coach to leaders at all levels of organizations in a program called “Influencing Options.”

Great Leaders Embrace Failure, Then Succeed Faster and Greater! What About You?

Here’s a 90-second video worth watching.

This video proves failure is absolutely necessary and should be embraced if we want to success beyond our wildest imagination.

As one of my business mentors tells me, “If you’re not failing, you’re not trying!”

How did you fail forward this year?  Enjoy the video!

Champion Leadership Tip #5 – Throw Out the “Golden Rule” & Lead With Platinum

The “Golden Rule” is a life philosophy taught to many young children in school, in families and in religious institutions. The “Golden Rule” states “do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Or more simply, “treat others as you would want to be treated.”

For general life skills the “Golden Rule” works very well. However, when leading others, or when trying to build a deeper relationship with others in any endeavor there is a higher level of interaction which many call “platinum.”

The “platinum” approach to leadership states, “do unto others as they want to be done unto.” This means leaders need to invest time to get to know the people they lead to understand what is most important to them.

When leaders know the people they lead well enough to know what is most important to them, and how they like to be led, leaders can adapt their style to get the most out of their team members.

The platinum approach to leadership is not a “one style fits all” leadership style, but offers a customized relationship that connects at a deeper level and allows for much greater results. This is because leaders can tap into the motivation strategies of the people they lead, and give them what they need most to be more consistently motivated and develop the skills necessary to achieve at a higher level.

A great example of this is my wife, who is a relatively private person and doesn’t like to have the spotlight shone on her. If she were recognized for an accomplishment on a stage in front of a large audience she would be extremely uncomfortable. But, get her in a one-on-one conversation and directly and specifically tell her to her face how she made a difference or how important she is to the organization she works for, it would light her up. The former would be demotivating and the latter would energize her. It’s important for her boss to understand her personality in this way to be able to get the most out of her in the most positive, supportive manner.

If you’d like even more support in becoming a better leader I encourage you to check out “The Leadership Series.” This is a new product I’ve created with Jim Smith “The Executive Happiness Coach.” Jim and I discuss 7 Essential Leadership Strategies for the 21st Century. It will officially be available on Tuesday, December 15th. All pre-orders will receive access to a Special Audio Bonus Segment “Leading The ‘Millenials” – GenY In The Workplace & What To Do With Them.” This a 50-minute discussion between Jim & I where we discuss the challenges of today’s multi-generational workforce and effectively leading and motivating the youngest generation moving into the world of work.

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