“What is the point of being responsible for the work if I am not allowed to take the shine?”
“What does she even do? We seem to do all her work for her.”
“He never lets us do what we want. How do we learn and grow?”
“Why is he micromanaging me, checking on my work constantly? He either believes I can deliver or not. There’s no in-between”
Do these statements sound familiar? If you’ve heard this about yourself or you hear yourself saying this about your manager then I say a hearty Congratulations! You have just stepped on the sharp end of the double-edged sword called DELEGATION.
Generally, something that has both advantages and disadvantages is considered a double edge sword. The process of delegation usually refers to the process of top managers or subordinates delegating authority to middle and lower-level managers. While this is a straightforward definition, the actual process of delegation is anything but simple. A leader’s job is an extremely difficult one. They often need to make tough decisions, act when no one else will, and influence others to realize their vision. However, these actions always mostly have unintended consequences something we refer to as “the double-edged sword”.
For example, “is it better to let my team handle the work I do, or do I do it myself?”, “to what extent do I allow employees in on trade secrets?” Managers and Leaders face this dilemma more often than not. While it is important to recognize that one of the pillars of being a good leader is to learn to delegate effectively, it is also important to acknowledge that criticism will come as well because some members of the team may see you as using them to get your work done or see you as someone who is just not prepared to own and deliver on the job even if this is not your intention.
Let this not deter you!
SO, HOW DO YOU AVOID THE BLEEDING THAT COULD COME FROM THIS DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD?
In one word － Balance. The hallmark of a leader is the ability to discern what is too much and what is too little. The delicate art of balancing is the solution to dealing with this double-edged sword. Don’t feel bad when you slip up here and there because with consistent practice comes mastery. Here are a few tips to help you out:
- Learn to hand over tasks to your team rather than doing it all by yourself and don’t feel guilty when you do so. They might make mistakes but that’s not a problem. Before you became a leader, you made mistakes too. So, empower and let your team own the work you have made them responsible for. When they make mistakes, don’t be quick to lash out. The proof of a good leader is in their ability to raise others into leaders themselves. Provide feedback and don’t just criticize your team for small failures. Encourage them to stand tall and not get demotivated because of some small setbacks.
- Don’t involve yourself in the day-to-day decision-making process. This is not to say that you leave your team to run on their own especially when they’re new to this. Rather, this is a process of building trust. You can set the tone for the week and let them handle the execution but let them know that if they’re stuck, they can come to you for clarification. Until you can wean them off relying on you for day-to-day decision-making, this is a sustainable process.
- Accept that other people will have their own style of delivery. Therefore, chances are that your team will execute using other methods that differ from yours. That is the true essence of diversity and creativity. Even though it may not match your own style as long as the output matches or exceeds your expectations then should you really care? Unless it is unethical and incorrect, the answer is no. In doing this, you will also learn new things from your team and you will always have the best ideas originate from them.
- Although your goal is to delegate, understand that there is a difference between delegation and nonchalance. Coach your team regularly. Have sessions with them where they’re giving you feedback as well. The power of a synergized team does not come from the leader regularly dishing out instructions. It comes from a systematic communication channel that allows for feedback in response to instructions given. Don’t throw them in the deep end in the name of the delegation. Respect the viewpoint of the team and listen to their suggestions. If you can’t accept their suggestion, decline politely, and explain the reason for not accepting the suggestion. You will be respected more just by listening to them.
- One of the major reasons delegation sometimes harms leadership is because after all is said and done, the leader “forgets” to give credit where it’s due to the team and ends up taking all the glory for something that was a team effort. Make sure you praise and reward the team for the good work they do. Celebrate their successes. Don’t forget that you are part of the team. Let them feel like you’re a part of them too.
To delegate effectively, you must know how to lead by example. Your team will be more trusting when they know that the reason you’re delegating is because you want to also train them into becoming effective leaders rather than having them as slave masters. If the situation demands, roll up your sleeves and do the work alongside your team. Empathy helps strengthen positive emotions in delegation.