A Coaching Power Tool created by Silvia Macedo
(Executive Coaching, United States)
Information is out there. The Internet is bombarded with well-written pages regarding (good/bad) management. People talk about management. Friends share their experiences from work with each other’s. Couples talk at home about their managers and work experiences. There are plenty of books that promise to help you become a better manager. Companies spend thousands of pounds per year to make sure their employees attend “miraculous” leadership and management courses. So, my question is, why are we still coming across so many bad managers?
“Imagine for a second a good friend has asked you to help him move. As you walk into his house he is holding a heavy box of valuable china and asks you to put it in a truck. So you take a few steps towards him and you are suddenly taken off guard as he tosses the box rather than handing it to you. You do your best not to drop the box of priceless valuables, but the sudden thrust of weight into your hands causes the box to quickly drop to the floor. The next thing you hear is the dreaded sound of broken china. You apologize for dropping it as your friend stands there staring at you in shock.
I’m sure many of you have faced a situation like this at some point in your life. You are tossed a box that normally you could pick up and carry with no problem, but the sudden weight thrust into your hands is too overwhelming. Now to apply this experience to the area of leadership, imagine you are working on a leadership team and are quickly approaching a major event or presentation. Just before this event/presentation, your boss hands you three pages of high priority tasks that need to be done urgently. You stand there like a deer caught in the headlights, thinking to ask if anyone will be helping you with these tasks, but realizing by your boss’s tone that it is all on you. The end result in this second scenario would inevitably be similar to the first. When the day of the event/presentation, you have managed to get many of the tasks done, but as expected, part of the second and the entire third page of tasks go untouched. You have ‘dropped the box.’ Your boss looks at you in disappointment and shock. The result is an event/presentation that is sub-par and average at best.”
Most managers do not know how to delegate. That is not really surprising, because if no one ever delegated anything to them how are they going to learn? Many times, managers dump their work onto someone else (or do not delegate at all), but there is a big difference between delegating and dumping.
When you delegate something to a subordinate it should serve two purposes:
- First, it must lighten your load so you can concentrate on more important issues;
- Second (and most important) it must help the receiver learn and grow.
Delegating is a skill we all need to develop over our careers. When we delegate we are showing that we care about the other person’s professional development, we want them to feel empowered and chalenged; when we dump tasks we are showing that we are focused on ourselves and the work that needs to be completed with total disregard for the other person’s needs and professional development.
So how do we delegate in a way that makes others feel empowered versus just having some tasks “dumped” unto them?
We focus a lot on what we want to delegate, and that is important. But, if we want to increase our ability to have a positive influence on others, and yes, delegate, we should focus on how we delegate.
For many, deciding what can be delegated is a necessary and sometimes difficult first step. You must first answer this question: “What cannot be delegated?”