“We need to lift as we climb,” said the CEO of a fast-growing company regarding her company’s leadership development approach.
Simple and True. I picture a stair case where senior leaders are rushing to reach the top – to The Pinnacle! Best-Ever Profits! Increased Market Share! Beating Out the Competition! Innovative Products! Engaged Employees! But with each leap to the next step, they’re looking behind them to ensure their teams are closely following. They’re aware when someone has foot-fumbled on a step below and extend a helping hand. They’re pointing out the squeaky and unstable stairs so that others can avoid missteps.
“We need to lift as we climb.” YES!! We need to make time to foster critical thinking and decision-making skills in our team members. We should empower them with the technical know-how and confidence to complete their work autonomously. We must model and train them with the core skills of leadership and management so they may lead the company into the future.
But I can hear you now, “Where the heck do I find time to develop my team when I’m totally covered up in the stuff on my plate?” Here’s How: DELEGATE AND COACH.
Tip #1 – Delegate to Empty Your Plate!
Give a team member responsibility for something on your to-do list because they have the skills to complete it or because they have the potential to develop the skills to complete it (and then they know how to complete it going forward!).
- Don’t trust them with that kind responsibility? Start with something smaller – an assignment whose outcome is less-consequential to the business or that requires skills that the employee has already demonstrated. They complete the simple assignment successfully. You provide positive reinforcement so they’re feeling good about you and their contribution. And they demonstrated that they could follow-thru appropriately so you’re feeling a slight up-tick in your level of trust in them. Slowly increase the importance, size and level of responsibility of assignments you delegate to intentionally increase your level of trust with that person.
- Afraid they’ll screw it up? – See Tip #2.
- They don’t know how to do it? – See Tip #2.
Tip #2 – Coach to Cultivate!
- Don’t assume – ASSESS! Think you know your employees’ level of understanding and abilities regarding the assignment you want to delegate? Validate that assumption! Assess by asking questions like, “How would you approach completing this assignment?” They’ll either know what to do and can get off to the races. Or you’ll recognize the gap in their ability to complete the assignment.
- Teach to Close the Gaps. Once you determine there’s a gap, teach only the skills or knowledge needed to close the gap in their ability. No more, no less. No need to explain parts of which they already have a grasp.
- Follow Up. Check to see how they’re doing – not to micromanage, but to offer praise if they are on track or to offer support and further coaching if they aren’t.
At the Team Manager Development Center (TMDCTM), delegation and coaching are two of twelve leadership competencies that we help leaders develop and hone. Contact us if you want to discover ways to deepen your skills of delegation and coaching through the TMDCTM.
Let’s commit to growing the future leaders of our businesses. “We need to lift as we climb!”