We all have the potential to become a leader, yet many fall short in developing their ability to become one or to reach beyond the status quo. There are a variety of reasons why this may be so ranging from not knowing what to do to sheer laziness in becoming the best that they can be as leader. If you want to develop your leadership abilities then the five points covered in this article may help you to overcome areas that may be holding you back.
1: Become a Follower.
The heading of this topic may sound counterintuitive to you but consider this. There are potential leaders who view becoming a follower as something beneath them, whereas it is an essential quality for moving forward. There are few if any leaders in the world who have become one without the help and advice of other leaders. Excellent leaders have learned to be excellent followers in their development.
Find yourself a mentor. Follow him or her around. Watch what they do and glean the positive elements of their actions. A leader-mentor is someone who has more experience than you, someone who you look up to and want to be like. Someone who shares your values, ethics and principles.
A mentor will help you become focused and motivated; provide you with honest feedback; teaches you to problem solve and encourages your growth and development.
You need not be ashamed to follow and be inspired by someone. You will learn much more than if you walk alone. It takes a bit of humility to follow someone, but if you don’t you will never have what is needed to guide others. Following a mentor also prepares you to become a mentor of other potential leaders.
2. Be A Continuous Learner.
Make a point of nurturing a growth mindset. You can’t know everything, but you can become an expert in your field. And it is in this capacity that you will be trusted. Open your mind to not only learning the ‘hard technical skills’ in your area of expertise but also the ‘soft skills’ you will need to relate to others. Leadership is about engaging others to move forward, to follow a vision and to have others take action on a shared vision. In order to do that leaders need necessary soft skills to engage their followers.
3: Know your Values and Commit to them.
Great leaders believe in firm positive values. Take the necessary time to uncover your values and then live and defend them. One of the major breakdowns among leaders is that they do not follow the values they preach. This is most unfortunate because followers become jaded, skeptical and seek to remove themselves as a follower. Here are five key values of successful leaders.
4. Become a Public Speaker
One of the most stressful and difficult skills is to become a public speaker. Yet if you want to become a leader you must acquire the ability to speak in front of an audience. There is no doubt that public speaking can indeed be stressful, and even scary, but it’s a habit you have to get into. Public speaking can be learned through practice as many have witnessed, for instance:
5. Passionately Adhere to Your Vision
Spend the necessary time in cultivating your vision – where you would like to be. Followers follow a leader with vision. It has been said that most people like to be led but they only follow leaders who are passionate about their vision. In the process of leading with passion be yourself rather than being like someone else. Let your authenticity shine through your actions and continually act with integrity.
These five steps alone will not make you a leader, but if you master them you will be on your way to become one. A measure of a good leadership is the ability to influence, thus by following these five steps you will learn what it takes to influence others.
Thank you for reading and as always take care, be safe and become the best version of yourself.
Resource: Become A Leader: Find the Leader Within You.
Type in “Leader” in the search bar on the Front Page at www.fontaniemagazine.com and you will find 94 references for leader and leadership.
Self-disciplined leaders motivate themselves to meet their goals. They do not need anyone’s outside help to get done what needs to get done. Of course they seek help if they don’t know ‘how’ to do something. In most cases they are self-learners and don’t wait to be told about their skill gaps. They know what they are. In the main though they do what they said they would do, whether they said it to themselves or someone else, and they do it even when they don’t feel like it. To get a better understanding of how leaders positively act with self-discipline let’s look at some examples.
1. Wake Up on Time – Leaders have no difficulty in waking up on time and focusing on their priorities. They are eager to get to work, get properly dressed, fed, exercised and out the door on time. Strong leaders also spend time in meditation first thing in the morning. They know that it’s simply self-discipline that gets them going each day.
2. Act Respectfully Toward Others – Everyone has impressions about the people they meet during the day. People react either emotionally or rationally to a person who cuts them off while driving to their destination; or when an individual is not performing to the best of his/her ability. With good self-discipline leaders will be respectful toward everyone regardless of their feelings, hunger, or mood at the time.
3. Eat Healthily – There are so many things out there to eat that aren’t good for us. A person who chooses to eat healthily 80 to 90 percent of the time is demonstrating excellent self-discipline. Leaders learn to say ‘no’ today to avoid short-term pleasure in exchange for a healthier tomorrow.
4. Daily Exercise – Some people really do love exercise and get a true "high" off it. But most of us don’t. Most often leaders go ahead and do their exercise each day because they are committed to their goals of keeping fit. They know that keeping fit allows them to have the energy they need to serve others.
5. Meet Deadlines – Leaders are self-starters. They are self-disciplined enough to make and meet deadlines without outside influence. They know what others expect of them and meet their requirements. If they are unable to do so they say so. For them self-discipline and strong self-management techniques go hand in hand.
6. Follow Through – A self-disciplined leader tends to do what they say they’ll do. They have follow-through. If they say they’ll get it done on Friday, they will do what they can to get it done on Friday without anyone reminding them.
7. Create Good Habits – A self-disciplined leader knows that the best way to stick to any goal is to create good habits surrounding that goal. For example, a leader who has a personal goal to get up an hour earlier to go to the gym knows that it’s going to be only willpower the first month, then after that, a habit will be created. Ask any leader and he will tell you that changing behaviours is not easy but to take on a new habit means changing behaviours. Leaders practice new behaviours until they become second nature to them. They also know that persistence is necessary because it takes about three weeks, and sometimes longer, of consistent action to change a habit.
In conclusion it doesn't mean that a self-discipline leader never has fun. The ability to let go of a weakness and do what is right is the best example of self-discipline. We all have the potential to become a leader in whatever walk of life we have. An essential ingredient to living a successful life in business, at work or in life, is the ability to control what you can control using sound self-discipline practices.
There is an old saying, “You can lead a horse to drink, but you can’t make it drink.” That’s right, you can’t make Blacky drink. If Blacky doesn’t want to drink, Blacky won't drink. The same applies to employees. You can show employees how to do something or request that they follow a certain policy, but you can’t make them to it. The key question for us then is, “How do we motivate employees to do the work and to follow what is expected?” The simple answer to that question is clear: we can’t motivate anyone. Yet everyone is motivated, but they are motivated for their reasons and not ours. So the foundational principles to motivation becomes: a) understand what motivates people; and, b) create a work climate for positive motivation.
Now here is the kicker. Not everyone is motived in the same way. What motivates me, doesn’t necessarily motivate you. We may be driven by different motivators. However there are a few general factors that encourage a motivated workforce. So in order to create a motivational environment two factors are at play: 1) what motivates a specific individual, and 2) what are the general motivational elements we can developed within the workplace that will encourage one to become motivated.
First let’s try to define motivation. Motivation relates to the internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested in and committed to a job, role, or subject, and to exert persistent effort in attaining a goal.
Generally motivation results from interactions among conscious and unconscious factors such as the 1) intensity of desire or need, 2) incentive or reward value of the goal, and 3) expectations of the individual and of his or her employer, team leader or supervisor. *
Motivation then boils down to the reason or reasons someone has for acting or behaving in a particular way, and, the general desire or willingness to do something.
Our motivational behaviors can be influenced by several factors: cultural, socio-economic, up-bringing, and recent research suggests by the neural programming of our brain.
Nearly everything we do is driven by a motivational force. Our internal drives and needs lead to tension, which turn into some sort of action. The need for water results into thirst which motivates us to drink.
Negative and positive motivational forces could include such factors as force (coercion) fear, influence, need, and desire. Depending how coercion, fear and influence are used, they could be negative or positive forces that act as drivers. For example a fear (negative force) of bodily injury could be used to implement a safety program (positive result).
These forces can be packaged as extrinsic and intrinsic motivational drivers.
Extrinsic motivation: Occurrences such as rewards, punishments, circumstances and situations which move us to action or behavior change. The force for extrinsic motivation may be positive or negative. Types of extrinsic forces include fear and incentives and at first appear negative e.g. “you do this or else;” “you do this, and you get that.” But fear motivates us when we are in danger, and an incentive may motivate to achieve. Usually fear and incentive motivation in the workplace are not long lasting.
Intrinsic motivation: Doing something for its own sake without any obvious external incentive for doing so. For example: one wants to master public speaking for its own sake and not connected to any reward.
An intrinsic motivational force may also be positive or negative depending on one’s need or perceived by another, for instance: I am motivated to sleep longer in the morning, which I perceive as good for my health, but viewed negatively by my employer if I am late for work.
Types of Motivation
So what are some of motivational drivers that may affect our motivational behaviour.
Achievement Motivation: An intrinsic desire to go after and achieve goals. Here an individual is up-ward mobile and wishes to achieve objectives and advance on the ladder to success. A sense of accomplishment is important for its own sake and not for the rewards that accompany it. “To be the best” is their motto.
Affiliation Motivation: An intrinsic drive for social relationships. People with this type of motivation work best with compliments about their favorable attitudes and co-operation.
Competence Motivation: An intrinsic drive to be good at something. The individual wants to do quality work. People with competence motivation what to take mastery over the job and take pride in solving problems and find creative solutions when obstacles are in their way. They are good at learning from experience.
Power Motivation: An intrinsic drive that pushes people to change a situation. These people want to create an impact in the workplace and are not afraid to take risks.
Attitude Motivation: An intrinsic drive based on feelings. It relates to self-confidence, belief in one self, their attitude towards life and how they view the future and how they react to their past.
Incentive Motivation: An intrinsic individual or team drive to reap a reward from some form of activity. “you do this, and you get that” sort of mentality. They look for awards, certificates, prizes, incentives to work harder.
Fear Motivation: An extrinsic force that coerces someone to act against their will. It is immediate, gets the job done but doesn’t last in the long term.
There are over a dozen theories which attempt to explain motivation. Each has their place, but each is limited in scope. However taken together we can find some generic ideas that give us a better understanding of motivation as a whole. I will leave a review of these motivational theories for another time. For now here are three common ones you may wish to look up at your leisure: Jeremy Bentham’s Carrot and Stick Approach, Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need Theory, and Douglas McGregor’s Theory “X” and Theory “Y”
Tips for creating a Motivational Environment
Here are twelve tips for creating a motivational environment that I have found work well within any organization.
Thank you for reading,
Richard P Fontanie.
In previous articles I explored the difference between delegation and empowerment. I suggested that delegation is something you “do” to people, whereas empowerment is something people have to do for “themselves.” In brief delegation comes from the organizational structure and involves the transfer of authority and responsibility. Empowerment is more intrinsic and involves taking increasing ownership through self-actualization and initiative. We delegate tasks and the authority to do the tasks, but we empower employees to take initiative to complete tasks without delegating them.
This article explores the concept of power as it applies to empowerment. However, we can’t talk about empowerment without first talking about interpersonal power and a power-dependency relationship between the LeaderManager and members of his or her team.
What is interpersonal power? Simply put it is A’s capacity to influence the behavior of B so that B acts in accordance with A’s wishes. When someone influences another or a group of people to act in a certain way, that individual has power over them. Make no mistake about it, a LeaderManager has power over others but it’s how he or she uses that power that counts. It can be used positively or negatively. Let’s look at the different types of power LeaderManagers have and the ways in which they can misuse them.
Types of Power:
Coercive Power: This is the use of power by force, where fear is a consequence. Coercive power may be appropriate in circumstances where safety or health is concerned. Think about a regulation that if not followed garners a significant fine. In this sense one is coerced to follow the regulation for fear of a fine. When LeaderManagers instill fear using ‘coercive power’ without due cause then it is usually misplaced. In such cases LeaderManagers use this type of power by instilling fear as a consequence of not doing what is being asked. It’s presented in such a way that it’s “my way, or the highway.”
Reward Power: Under the heading ‘Reward Power,’ a LeaderManager can dole out special benefits or rewards to individuals or teams. Rewards come in the form of job assignments, schedules, pay or benefits. LeaderManagers can do this in a just way, for instance, an employee is hired to do a job and receives payment and benefits accordingly. They can also use ‘reward power’ to manipulate others: “You do this, and you will get that.” Performance appraisals are at times packed with misuses of reward power. Often ‘reward power’ turns into internal trade wars with people competing for favors.
Legitimate Power: With ‘Legitimate Power’ or ‘Positional Power’ the LeaderManager can expect, considering his or her position and the employee’s job responsibilities, the employee to comply with legitimate requests. The misuse of this power could occur when the LeaderManager is caught up in her position to such an extent that she overuses it. Sometimes this can boarder on bullying such as “do this because I said so,” or “do this because I’m your boss.”
Expert Power: Many LeaderManagers have advanced within an organization or have been hired from outside because of their expertise. Knowledgeable LeaderManagers can be a blessing for an employee or a block to employee growth. A blessing when employees refer to them for advice and help; a block when they think they ‘know it all’ and coerce (there’s that power force again) others to do it their way because they know best. In this latter instance they do not give employees room to develop or try new approaches. The result stifles innovation.
Referent Power: Referent Power occurs when the LeaderManager likes an employee and enjoys doing things for him or her. “Referent power’ could also be used in reverse. The employee enjoys doing things for the LeaderManager. It becomes a force for mutual admiration. Not that there is anything wrong with this. In fact, when done appropriately it makes for a happy workplace. However, it goes awry when ‘favoritism’ becomes the norm and the LeaderManager pits one against or over another.
Information Power: The LeaderManager often has data or knowledge that employees need to do their job correctly or to ensure the team is working collaboratively and appropriately. That information should always be shared. There are times when the LeaderManager may have information that he should not share. It is deemed confidential information. When approached about that information the LeaderManager can change the subject, say nothing or say it is a confidential matter. What he shouldn’t do is open the door to the subject then say, “I have the information, but can’t share it with you.” Or “I know something that you don’t.”
Connection Power: LeaderManagers have connections with other powerful people within an organization. They often have close ties with owners, shareholders, other managers and leaders, as well as other movers and shakers within the wider community. They can be door openers for employees who are on a developmental track. They can also be door closers. Inappropriate use of ‘connection power’ occurs when the LeaderManager threatens or hints to an employee that he has the power to both open and close doors for her unless she follows his directives.
Moving to Empowerment
When we talk about sharing power through delegation or using influencing power as mentioned above we are not talking about ‘empowering power.’ Empowerment allows others to use their power. It gives employees the freedom to make decisions and commitments on behalf of themselves. It goes beyond delegation and could be referred to as “delegation for grownups”. It is a process that gives the individual room to grow and develop. They take on power for themselves to make decisions in the best interest of their organization, colleagues and customers.
Empowerment also comes with an important caveat. It comes with concomitant responsibility and accountability. It is about individuals taking ownership, responsibility and accountability for the choices they make and the resultant outcomes. Individuals take power unto themselves but they are accountable.
LeaderManagers cannot empower anyone, but they can create an environment where the empowerment message can grow. The more they give authority to employees to make decisions and take action on their own, the more likely the employees will learn to become empowered.
Be careful however, empowerment is not a “right” but a privilege and people need to first earn the privilege to become empowered.
“…every employee should earn the right to make a broader decision, take on additional authority, or be given latitude and discretion. Earned empowerment is the only valid empowerment culture…..Accountability and responsibility should always precede privilege. Give new employees the tools they need to succeed. Then make them earn greater authority and privilege.” Jeff Haden, bNet
Power to Ponder.
If you are a LeaderManager review the types of power outlined above. Think about how you are applying the types of power then rate yourself on a scale of 1(abusing) to 10 (positively using). What do the ratings tell you? Do you need to change the way you use the various power fields? How do you think your employees would rate you? Do you want to ask them?
Would you say you are an empowering LeaderManager? How comfortable are you in creating an environment for empowerment? What can you do to improve a culture of empowerment within your team or organization?
Click here to find Eight Steps LeaderManagers can take to create a culture of empowerment.
This is another article in the Essential LeaderManager Skills Series
My last article in the Leader/Manager/leader Essential Skills series identified delegation as a foundational management and leadership skill. In organizational terms it is the transfer of authority and responsibility to another. In its truest form it isn’t about empowering others. It is simply passing on tasks for others to do. I pointed out that delegation is about teamwork and conscientious intent and not off-loading tasks willynilly. This article will explore the thorny question about how much authority does the manager/leader delegate and who is ultimately held accountable.
How much authority is necessary?
How much authority do you transfer to others during the delegation process? The short answer: it depends on the capabilities of the delegatee. The more capable the delegatee, the more authority one delegates; and conversely the less capable, the less authority one delegates. To help sort this out let’s consider four levels of delegated authority with the first being the highest.
Level 1: Do it.
The “Do It” level assumes the individual has the skills and capabilities of carrying out the delegated task. Here the manager/leader genuinely passes on his authority to the individual. The manager/leader trusts the individual and is confident that she can and will carry out the assigned task. This first level is usually attributed to those who are well experienced, professional in their approach, and have consistently performed well.
Level 2: Do it and tell me later.
There is a bit of testing going at this level. The manager/leader allows the individual to complete the task but wants to know what was done and how it was done to ensure that the task was done right and that the individual gets the right result. The manager/leader is not sure the individual is fully capable of doing the job but is willing to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Another process is also at work here, that of experimentation and learning.
In the case of experimentation, the delegatee may complete the task and achieve the right result. However, she may not have done it in the same way that the manager/leader would have done it. “How” the person did it was different than “how” the manager/leader would have done it. That does not make it wrong. In fact, in many instances the delegatee’s “how” is often an improvement on the manger’s “how.” The manager/leader can then compliment the delegate for a job well done and in turn learn from the process herself.
Now let’s take the other situation, where the delegatee completes the task but doesn’t get the right result. In this case the “how” used may be incorrect or the individual may not be fully capable of carrying out the task. Here the manager/leader can review the process with the individual in a supportive way and together sort out the better “how.” The manager/leader moves into a coaching or mentoring role, maintains the person’s confidence and dignity, while engaging the individual in a learning process.
Level 3: Plan it but check with me before you do it.
In this case the manager/leader is not sure whether the individual can do the task. The manager/leader wants the individual to develop the skill sets to complete the task, but also wants to ensure the individual has thought through the process and expected outcome.
The approach to Level 3 is what I call “Guided Performance Development.” Engaging the individual by having her plot out “how” she intends to “achieve the result” is somewhat of a delicate process. Sometimes the task is given to the individual in advance and the manager/leader asks her to think about the task and come back to discuss it; other times it is presented with an immediate request about how the individual intends to proceed and what results she expects.
As in level 2, the manger becomes the coach. The coach does not “tell” the individual “how” to complete the task, but asks questions like: “How do you think you should proceed with this task? Why do you think this will work? How much time do you think it will take? What results do you expect?”
There should be give and take in these discussions allowing the individual to come to their own conclusions, while at the same time, giving the manager/leader an opportunity to provide guidance toward a positive outcome. Notice that the questions are open-ended and not directive. The whole exercise is about learning, improving and developing performance.
Level 4: Consult with me before you plan it.
At this level the manager/leader wants to ensure that the individual has the skills and capabilities before delegating the authority to do the job.
This is the lowest level of delegated authority, and usually occurs when a new person comes on stream. Trust between the manager/leader and the individual hasn’t solidified yet, and there is little experience about the person’s knowledge and skill capacity. Essentially the manager/leader is testing for this. The manager/leader wants to ensure the individual is clear about the task, the time lines and what is expected. The difference in this case is that the discussion takes place before any planning takes place. Depending on the learning style of the individual, the manager/leader may use a “show and tell” approach – this is how you complete this task, and this is what you can expect - or, she may use open-ended questions as identified in level 3 above.
The learning approach manager/leader uses presupposes that she has some understanding about the learning style of the individual, that is, the individual best learns from “show or tell” or from a more “indirective” approach with someone who has “self-learning” capabilities.
A manager/leader may also use level 4 with an experienced employee. Usually this is a situation which is new, complicated, untried and the manager/leader may not clearly understand how to proceed. Here the manager/leader may want to brainstorm different approaches with the individual, and then let her carry it forward. Again, learning and experimentation take place. In this case there is a high degree of trust between the manager/leader and the individual based on past performance.
“Delegation provides the perfect example of how to win the demands of getting the job done with the business of providing opportunities for learning and development. The trick is to get double mileage out of something you already have to do. (Source unknown)
What about accountability?
Ultimately the manager/leader remains accountable for the delegated task. Manager/leaders should delegate in such a way that the person feels accountable and behaves like she is accountable. However, as President Harry Truman once said, “The buck stops here,” which means the buck stops with the manager/leader. If the manager/leader wants the delegatee to be fully accountable, then she needs to redesign the job description. When the manager/leader delegates, she needs to define accountability so that there is no doubt where it lies and what it covers. Here’s how:
If you are reluctant to delegate there are 11 self-evaluation statements that may give you some insight as to why you may be reluctant. Find the statements by clicking on PDF file below.
Author: Richard P. Fontanie MSW, FCMC
Notes: The terms leader/manager or manager/leader are used interchangeably in these articles. In the normal course of events within an organization people assigned to a management or a leadership role call upon the skills ascribed to both leader and manager. There are times when the person leads, and other times when he manages; and other times when he leads and manages at the same time. When one steps into a management position, management skills are primarily required. When the person moves into a more senior position, leadership skills come more to the fore. The focus of this series is on the “essential” or “foundational” skills required for one moving into a management or leadership role. Hence the term leader/manager or manager/leader is used.
I also try to make my articles gender neutral. However, for clarity sake I use the first-person pronoun but you can apply any gender to the article.
An Essential Manager/Leader Skills article. The term leader/manager or manager/leader is used interchangeably. In the normal course of events within an organization people assigned to a management or a leadership role call upon the skills ascribed to both leader and manager. There are times when the person leads, and other times when he manages; and other times when he leads and manages at the same time. When one steps into a management position, management skills are primarily required. When the person moves into a more senior position, leadership skills come more to the fore. The focus of this series is on the “essential” or “foundational” skills required for one moving into a management or leadership role. Hence the term leader/manager or manager/leader is used.
Delegation is an essential management and leadership skill. In organizational terms it is the transfer of authority and responsibility to another. In its truest form it isn’t about empowering others. It is simply passing on tasks for others to do. In brief, delegation is something you “do” to people, whereas empowerment is something people do for “themselves.” Empowerment is more of an intrinsic act and involves taking increasing ownership through self-actualization and initiative. We delegate tasks and the authority to do the tasks; we empower employees to take initiative to complete tasks without delegating them.
A major cause of poor time management and stress management is often a leader/manager’s unwillingness or inability to delegate responsibility to employees. Delegation allows leader/managers to: concentrate on their overall responsibilities, focus on critical opportunities, motivate others, and get the job done. Simply put it is getting the job done through the efforts of others. It’s all about developing and supporting strong teamwork.
A leader/manager has a job to do which is bigger than what she can achieve alone. Therefore, she needs to delegate it to someone on the team. Dr. Peter Honey, a well-respected Occupational Psychologist, points out in his book 101 Ways of Developing People Without Really Trying, when a leader/manager delegates she balances two important factors:
1. The responsibilities or tasks someone else completes on the leader/manager’s behalf; and
2. The authority (or powers) given to the person to carry out the responsibilities.
When the delegator focuses attention on delegating responsibilities (the first factor), there is greater potential for development of the person's skills and abilities. The first course of action for the delegator is to match the individual's capabilities with the delegated tasks. Secondly, when the delegator sees an opportunity to encourage development, she delegates responsibilities that require the person to stretch his capabilities. In this instance, the delegator needs to watch that she doesn’t put the delegated task out of reach of the person’s skill level.
The second factor means the delegator needs to 'let go' and give the individual authority to complete the job without further assistance from the delegator. This allows for authentic delegation and gives an equal blending of the two factors. Now let’s clarify the delegation process.
The Delegation Process
Delegation just doesn’t happen. It is a conscious effort on the part of a leader/manager to get work done. What I found during my coaching sessions was leader/manager uncertainty about how to delegate appropriately. For many of them they just dumped stuff onto to their employees, and others got some aspects of delegation right but lacked consistency. Here are five steps to delegation which should help clarify the process.
1. Sort out the tasks you wish to delegate and define them. Here you are seeking clarity about the tasks you need to complete and the time line in which you need to complete them. The definition of the task is important as it reduces confusion going forward. Often tasks are delegated without clarity. An example of this is when the manager places something on the desk of one of his team members and says, “Will you do this?” without explaining what “this” is, and without giving any indication when the task is expected to be completed. Whenever possible the best time to sort out the tasks is 15 minutes before you leave the office or the night before. This way you can get your work moving first thing in the morning.
2. Identify the delegatee. When you consider who you want to delegate the task to, keep in mind the skill level of the individual. You are asking yourself this simple question, “can the individual do the job you are asking him to do?” If not, then further clarification is required. Sometimes things don’t get done because the individual doesn’t know how to do them and is afraid to ask. So, if you don’t know you need to ask the individual if he can complete the task. If the person doesn’t know how to complete the task this becomes a learning opportunity. If the person does know, then delegate. However, be careful about delegating tasks only to those who know, as those that don’t will never learn. Also, watch whether you delegate only to those located close to you. If you consistently do this, you may lose an opportunity to develop your team members who work in other locations.
3. Set the priorities and time frame for completion. A practice many managers have is what I call stacking – stacking delegated work on people’s desks without setting priorities and time frames for the work. It goes something like this: “will you do this?” and a bit later, “here’s another one for you,” and an hour later another one lands on the desk. Then the manager comes back and says, “have you got this done?” What should the manager do in these cases? Whenever possible she should delegate all the known tasks at one time, set the priorities and the time frames for completion. This allows the delegatee to plan their workload, set their own priorities and work on their most important task. During the day, however, tasks do pop-up without warning. In these situations, make sure the task is important and urgent, communicate this to the person, and set a time for its completion.
4. Let go, Monitor, Revise when necessary, and Encourage. Once the task is delegated and you are confident the delegatee can do the work – you need to let it go. Allow the person to do the work. You are delegating “what” needs to be done, and not “how” it should be done – unless the delegatee doesn’t have the skills to do the job. Letting go allows the delegatee to develop, test abilities, and initiate a different way of getting the job done. This latter is an important concept as often the delegatee has a better way of doing things than the manager. If you have concerns about the skill level, monitor the delegatee by checking back periodically but don’t interfere with the work. Allow growth to take place. Encourage and develop rather than control and seek perfection.
5. Review upon completion. Once the task is completed by the delegatee and the work is back on your desk, or a report is provided to you that the job is done, then it’s time to assess performance. A job well done deserves praise. A job that isn’t, requires more work on your part. Before blame (which should never be part of the review) comes self-assessment. Did you carry out the first four steps in the process correctly? If you did, you should have caught problems before the completion of the task. If you were allowing the person to make mistakes, then the question that needs to be explored is “what did you learn from the experience?” and “how can you improve next time.” It is all about developing team members and giving them room to grow in place and time.
Note: My next article will explore the concepts of delegated authority and accountability. In the meantime, review the five steps of the delegation process and apply the relevant ones to your practice.
Thanks for reading,
Author: Richard P. Fontanie
When we step into a manager's role we usually do so without any preparation about how to become a manager. Somehow by the process of osmosis we are expected to "fit" the position. We may have been excellent employees and shown potential leadership qualities with our colleagues, customers or bosses; but, just because we were excellent employees doesn't mean that we will become successful managers.
We study to become engineers, nurses, social workers, lawyers, accountants, plumbers, electricians (we can keep adding to the list) and through application we become skilled at what we do. Our learning, both formal and informal, is all about our profession or craft and how to apply our skills to the task at hand. We were not taught how to become managers or leaders. Unfortunately, some of us take on a management role when we should have remained in our previous position because that is where we were most comfortable, satisfied and successful.
There are many reasons why employees move into management positions. They could include: the desire to obtain higher wages, more power and influence, or transform systems and processes, or improve team work. In some instances, employees are approached to move up the ladder by a senior manager or employer. Whatever the reason, employees should be prepared for the role, choose it for the right reason, and be aware of their strengths and shortcomings. They need to be prepared for the challenges they will face which require different thinking, focus, perspective, relationships, skills and an added attribute called "art".
Excellent employees pay attention to continuous learning revolving around their occupation. Successful companies ensure their employees are skilled at what they do and invest in courses and programs to that end. When they move into a management role, learning shifts from specific job-related skills to a much broader sphere. Their thinking caps move from the specific technical aspects of their job to the more conceptual requirements of the organization. They now need more knowledge about developing strategies, managing resources, measuring outcomes, and improving products and services. Their thinking role is transformed from job specialization to employee and team development in keeping with the business's overall strategic direction.
Communicating, influencing, coordinating, motivating, setting goals, managing self, delegating, critical decision-making and problem solving, planning, organizing, managing change, and controlling become critical skill sets for a manager. These skills are applied by engaging employees in finding solutions to different company and customer situations, advancing company policy and values, resolving people problems, building and strengthening teams, and negotiating with internal and external stakeholders. What employees now need is a much more expansive set of skills that go beyond specific on-the-ground work.
The relationship with his former co-workers also change as the employee steps into a management position. Many managers try to maintain the same “buddy” relationship they had with their former fellow employees after they step into their new role. This often poses problems for them, especially when they need to enforce unpopular company policy, manage poor performance or take corrective action. Another difficulty often occurs when they feel they can provide information to their "buddy" or "buddies" before it's ready for distribution. In these situations, the new manager gets caught up in a drama that often plays out on the ground floor. A drama which causes rumour and innuendo and ends in a loss of confidence in the manager. The manager's attempt to gain trust using the “buddy-buddy” approach with former co-workers becomes a loss of trust within the leadership team or by the employer.
There are a lot of dynamics going on in the above scenario concerning managerial information sharing. Young managers often confuse the need for confidentiality and transparency, and the use of information as power. The need for confidentiality is generally clear when it pertains to individual personnel matters, but it may not be so clear when the management team (with whom the new manager is now a member) is sorting out a policy decision that may affect members of the new manager’s team and others within the organization. It is appropriate to engage team members in the generality of the policy matter to gain their insight and input (if that is required), but it must be done in a way that doesn’t lead to disruption and discontent. Nor should the new manager use the information as a source of power as in “I know something, but I can’t share it with you.” (a) The situation is further exacerbated if the policy under discussion affects the whole of the organization and other managers do not engage their team members regarding the issue. People talk to one another in organizations, and this is where rumor, innuendo and more discontent becomes rampant. Communication, judgement, discernment and strategic thinking skills are paramount in these situations.
The employee who advances to a management position makes the leap from seeing work from a micro perspective to a macro one. The employee is introduced to broader organizational systems, processes and requirements. The perspective of how things "work around here," changes. The new manager is now expected to think in terms of the "big picture" and develop strategic thinking skills.
There are several forces at work here (yes, it is work): an ability to think long term, connect the dots about activities in motion, synthesize complicated interactions both at the human and systems level, reach a stage within the decision making process that goes beyond what is initially perceived, quickly assess the impact of actions and information on the organization, be aware of the competitive environment as well as those who have an interest in the organization's outcomes, and understand not only "what" needs to be accomplished, but "why" it needs to be done. All leading to a change in perspective.
The primary focus of a manager is the development of the "other." This is a big step from focusing primarily on job specialization. One would think that the essential focus should be on growing the organization and maintaining the company line. Certainly, it is important for managers to promote growth and circle the vision, mission, values and goals of the organization. However, the question that begs to be asked is, "who actually carries out that direction?" The answer must be "everybody," but It finally rests upon those on the front lines who are the "faces" of the organization.
Managers become the conduit and coordinators through which the strategic elements are directed, communicated and controlled. And, he or she can only carry out those functions through the performance of others. So, the focus of the manager is not on himself or herself, it is on the “other”. How the manager performs these functions relate to his or her leadership and management style and the application of the different knowledge, attributes and skills mentioned above.
So, where does the art come in? As managers, we must "feel" the vibes of the workplace culture and apply our thinking, perspective, focus and skills so that the relationships among our team players and colleagues flow with energy and synergy. We become jazz artists taking the lead when necessary, supporting the cast of players as needed, coaching and mentoring performance as required, balancing pressures from above with the needs below and the needs below with the pressures above, and keeping communication, collaboration and coordination in harmony with the overall direction of the organization. Sound simple? It becomes an art form.
So, is becoming a manager just a progression from our specialized work? Or, do we need to be prepared for the role? The answer lies within us, so choose wisely.
Here is an interesting article by Emma Bruder about the same subject from an experiential point of vew: “10 hard truths about management no one tells you about”
Author: Richard P. Fontanie, MSW, FCMC
Up-dated January 9, 2018.
(a) A future article on power and power sharing will explore this topic in more detail.