Boost productivity: effectively delegating, empowering, and inspiring.

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A leader—a normal and mortal one—does not do everything. I know it sounds too trivial, but it is amazing to see how many supervisors, managers, and executives tap on micromanagement to lead. The reasons they do this are countless. The problem is that micromanagement impairs the ability for teams, and the entire organization, to learn, to grow and to perform at their best. And you know how I think about that; not developing your organization is a fatal flaw! 

Especially in the world we are living today, where individuals are more autonomous, with enhanced socio-emotional skills, with sharp critical-thinking skills, hyperconnected, creative, equipped with a myriad of tools, with acute social and cultural expectations. Their roles and responsibilities are more fluid. Moreover, today a high amount of work is produced in teams and/or in collaboration.

Let me repeat what I said before… Vertical accountability and directive leadership in rigid and pyramidal organization structures is outdated and counterproductive.

In contrast, agile organizations exhibit thoughtful leadership, teamwork, and
collaboration as the essential mechanisms to winning in the marketplace.
Since teams are the social setting to perform and for organizational learning, individuals must get good at teaming. Yet, individuals as well as team need an appropriate level of empowerment to perform and produce the desired results—to exhibit high productivity. As an enabling leader, you need to entrust them to act.
Provide them with power to decide, to be creative, to experiment, to fail, to learn from mistakes, and to grow.

Help people and teams feel audacious, purposeful, motivated, recognized and energized. A test of true leadership. Call it delegation or empowerment, delegating work is obviously a lot more complicated than it looks at first sight. It entails a process that begins with self-awareness. You need to understand what level of control you want and need; how much you ‘trust’. You need to be intrinsically self-aware and understand how you dare and like to work. Along these thoughts, Tim Brighouse, the former Schools Commissioner for London, defined nine levels or degrees of delegation. Accordingly, you might go from as simple as telling a person or team “Look into this problem. Give me all the facts. I will decide what to do”; to as advanced and daring as “Take action. No further communication with me is necessary”, displaying a high level of trust and organizational
maturity.

Effective delegation is a win-win proposition. As an enabling leader, you have to
thoughtfully determine when delegation is most appropriate.

Delegation is a win-win proposition when done appropriately, however, that does not mean that you can delegate just anything. As a leader, you have to determine when delegation is most appropriate. Once decision has been made, by mindful that ensuring effective delegation entails strong interpersonal communication skills. Be clear and specific about your expectations and measures of the outcome. Ensure the person or team has the competencies to carry on the task. Be available in case they need help or have questions. Ensure processes are in place to guarantee getting things done.

One of these processes or techniques is follow-through. A good practice is to negotiate pre-established checkpoints to ensure action plans are on track. Depending on the ‘size’ of the task and on the degree of delegation, this might be a simple chat, or as complex and robust as progress reports, scorecards, etc. The longer and more complex the project or task is, the more important this step is. It is crucial to have a discipline of checking on progress. Robust communication here is a must!

Concomitantly, accountability for results is of paramount importance. Accountability is an assurance that individuals or teams will be evaluated on their performance and behavior related to the task or project for which they are responsible. In sum, make it clear that the individuals and teams are held responsible for successfully completing the task. This include, but is not limited to, learning from errors, missteps and flaws
in the produced results. This is a magnificent way of learning in an evergreen fashion. Fundamental to this is nurturing a no-excuses culture.

Create a sense of urgency. Ensure accountability for results. Fervently follow-through to
ensure the plans are on track. Obsessively measure everything! Foster robust dialogue,
in a low-risk environment, in order to surface the realities of the business. Nurture a
no-excuses culture

A word of caution: as an enabling and thoughtful leader you empower, you delegate authority. Yet, it is imperative you understand you cannot delegate your responsibility for the organization’s performance. That is your paramount task: the oversight of the whole value-creation process.

Rafael Jaén Williamson
Senior Advisor de Komunika Latam
Linkedin: Rafael Jaén Williamson

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