This is the 2nd Article in a Series on Leadership that I have been asked to write. In the first article of this series, we discussed that building trust as a leader is extremely important. Without trust, who will follow you. Let us assume for a moment that you have built that trust. That you have used several of the 13 Methods outlined by Stephen M. R. Covey. Now what? Are you ready to lead?
Before you start charging up the hill, question yourself if you trust those behind you? How do you know you trust them? How have you tested yourself?
Leadership guru John Maxwell writes about the “Law of Empowerment”. This one law is your key to future freedom as a leader. Selfishly, when you empower others, you put time back on your calendar. You build team members by showing trust, and you improve your overall organizations efficiency.
How do you start empowering others?
Most important in the mission of empowerment, is that you do it one small step at a time. You are not going to turn over the keys to any kingdom, regardless of how small it is, the first day someone reports to the job. I like the saying “you eat an elephant one bite at a time”. This is a perfect quote to consider as you transition from a delegation role to empowerment role for anyone you are leading.
Let us look at a typical manager, and how he may delegate a task. I use the word manager here, not leader, for a specific reason. Let’s say this is a manager of a floral shop (I write this on Valentine’s Day, thinking that is the business to own today). It is around noon, and the manager has 15 orders to be delivered between now and 3pm when the next batch is going to be completed.
The manager hands over a pre-printed GPS Route that takes the delivery driver from Point 1 to Point 15. On this route, there are alternative routes in case something happens in the area, and traffic is backed up. There are time stamps on the map of where the driver should be in the next 2 hours and 43 minutes. There are instructions to call the shop every 30-minutes or so explaining where the driver is.
As if handing this over is not enough, the manager then explains in detail each page of the instructions. He also discusses with the driver who the customers are, what the total invoice is for and what to do if it is cash, check, or charge. The manager has 30-60 minutes invested in putting all this together, and then simply delegating the task to the driver.
Forget being the manager at this moment, how do you feel if you are the driver? Do you feel any level of trust from this supervisor? Are you possibly even scared for a moment that something will go wrong? You might miss one of the call in times, or someone might not be home to sign for the flowers. We start with the extreme to make a point. This was definitely not empowering, however if you start with total empowerment from the beginning, you might be worse off.
Now assume that you turn over the 15 orders and simply ask the driver to have them all finished by 3pm so you can have the next load. That is great for you. You have saved 60-minutes of prep time, and you have empowered your driver. You have this huge smile on your face, and you look at him. He is staring at you like a deer in headlights, slightly trembling, and feet glued to the floor. You are thinking, why isn’t he excited?
What you may or may not know, is what has happened to this driver in the past. Someone may have given him a task like this that he failed at, and then lost his job. He could be simply frozen scared because he can’t afford to make any more mistakes and lose a good paying job like this.
Start here …
You need to spoon it in only as fast as the other person can manage it and not any faster. Ask them for their input at first. What would they do different in the route if they had some say in the matter? After a few days or weeks, ask them to design the route themselves, and just have you check or approve it. Sooner or later, that person is going to be more than trained, they will be confident. At no time will you have threatened him for making mistakes, or disciplined him for being a little late. Your goal is not to save the 60-minutes, it is also to build some self-esteem and confidence in your team members. You are going to show them that you trust them.
Too often managers throw the whole enchilada at the employee. After they fail, they lose all their trust in them. You hear these managers at happy hour saying things like “they can’t trust this one” or “the employees these days don’t know how to …” It’s more than training. It’s building trust in them, and them in you. If you want to be a leader, you know it’s a process.
Eat that elephant one bite at a time. You’ll be very satisfied when you are finished.
Looking for leadership training? Give Pinnacle Sales a call to discuss one on one, group, or masterminds in your area! There are new Mastermind Groups in the Detroit Metro area forming this Spring! Contact Us for more info!