Let’s set aside our nostalgia for the good old days when we could assure our businesses would succeed with a little more hard work. Allow yourself to appreciate, as a memory, the days when your business was well served by your personal effort and use of your natural talent or tactically applied skill. Today matters are a little more complex.
We need to lead and manage our entrepreneurial businesses with a crisp and well-understood vision. We need to commit ourselves to be continuous students of the complicated skills required to manage a team of people working toward a common goal.
As our businesses grow, we need to reserve more time and energy for the leadership and managerial responsibilities mentioned above. We need to delegate.
Let’s define delegation first.
Delegation is when a leader assigns a personally held task, project or responsibility to someone else while maintaining accountability. For this to occur effectively, a leader must define the scope of the responsibility, discuss how this task relates to the larger picture of your business (if required) and state clearly what success looks like.
Effective delegation assigns a team member in your organisation to be the tactical implementer or the “doer.” Meanwhile, you—as the leader—become the manager of the processes and standards of your business. Eventually, as your business grows and this delegation process continues, you may find yourself managing managers. These managers, in turn, will delegate tasks to their immediate staff. One day you will more than likely find yourself beaming with quiet satisfaction at the well-oiled machine of your team working independently to implement your vision and performing peacefully within the structures of a consistent, fair and inspirational managerial process.
You might be asking yourself, “Is this really necessary to build a sustainable enterprise?” The simple answer is yes.
I don’t believe it is necessary to grow your business to the size where you have managers of managers. However, I do believe it is necessary to grow your business past the limitations of the founding talents on which the business was created.
Hopefully, each leader reading this article can think of someone in your organisation who is amazingly better than yourself at some task or skill that your business requires.
What is the prescription for delegation?
• Is your current and future-looking personal leadership for your company producing a sustainably successful business? Make sure your vision is consistently tested for accuracy versus the constant pressures of a changing marketplace.
• Is your value proposition still valid? If not, your team is counting on your leadership for some adaptation that will keep your company completely relevant to your marketplace.
• Define the standards and structures that will define your employees’ relationship to your company. Everyone who accepts leadership and direction from others will perform best when they know what we as a company are trying to accomplish and what my role is to the group.
• Build the strongest team possible. Hire talented people. Empower them to exercise their unique skills and talents within the constraints of the company’s communally understood goals.
• Watch your company’s delegation and accountability processes. In a growing company, just about everyone should be headed toward a slightly different job. The natural progression of delegation with accountability should best position everyone to contribute to their greatest potential. Please remember that as “doers” get assigned a blended managerial role or even a totally managerial role, they will more than likely need support. Superior “doers” do not necessarily morph into great managers without support. You will need to provide for their learning and transition.
• Require of yourself to be a “manager in training” forever. It is hard and complicated work. Be a role model of managerial excellence to your direct reports. They will make the connection to their own efforts.
• Delegate with accountability and the appropriate KPI’s – never abandon. Communicate. Manage. Learn to manage even better. Enjoy the fruits of a sustainable and prosperous business.
One final point: I think the practice of quality delegation is way up there on the list of important markers of great business leadership. Making sure your vision is correct is the most important marker. There is always more work to be done than there are hours in the day. This truth is a constant.
A strong tradition of continuous delegation within our organisations is quite simply this: good for your business, good for the careers of your staff, good for you and your family life.
Lead On. Manage on.