Upping Your Value & Relevancy

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Upping Your Value & Relevancy

by Gwen Walsh – This article originally appeared in TechEdge LLC and is Reprinted with permission

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you get in the way of yourself — you become your own worst enemy? I hear hundreds of reasons as to why leaders don’t have the time to lead. Most reasons boil down to one common theme — leaders choose to get weighed down by the day-to-day tactics. Yes, I said “choose” because it’s a choice. I try to help leaders recognize that just because you can do X, doesn’t mean you should be doing X. As leaders, we owe it to ourselves, our organizations, our employees and our customers to add the most value possible, which we can only do if we’re calculatingly deliberate as to where and how we invest our time. What does “adding the most value possible” mean? To be “in high demand” and relevant leaders, we must…

Do absolutely everything in our power to actively influence and inspire
actions in others in order to win our customers’ hearts and minds.

Unfortunately, many leaders have lost their focus by living in the tactical weeds, and are ultimately placing their relevancy at risk.

“Aha” Moments and “Because” Excuses

When I challenge leaders who aren’t leading but rather spending the lion’s share of their time in the tactics, I typically encounter two reactions:

Reaction 1: The AHA Moment

Wow! Now that I’m taking a step back, I can easily identify many more ways that I can add value that I had not thought about previously, and that’s the kind of work that I really love doing! I’m looking forward to assessing and adjusting where I’m spending my time — more value-add leadership, less tactics. I get it! This is exciting! (Note to all: this is a step toward Reinvention)

Reaction 2: The Because Excuses

I hear you, but I have to do tactics X, Y and Z because:

  • My boss expects me to live in the weeds
  • I don’t have the time to delegate
  • I don’t know how to delegate
  • I am a perfectionist and fear that my staff won’t do as good of a job as I can do
  • It’s in my comfort zone — it’s what I enjoy doing and how I’ve achieved success in the past
  • I enjoy getting my hands dirty
  • I enjoy the runners high of coming to the rescue and being the “go to” person
  • I fear that delegating to others will look like I’m not doing my job
  • I fear that I will become invisible if I delegate to others
  • My staff don’t have the right capabilities and/or training
  • I don’t want to dump more work onto my staff
  • I don’t have the headcount available to delegate to others

Those leaders that experience the AHA Moments can’t wait to rethink their game plan. They quickly shed their excuse mentality, rapidly devise and execute effective delegation strategies and, within weeks, they’re take on exciting, leadership relevant work. The excuse-oriented leaders on the other hand, take longer to course correct. If you’re expecting leaders who are buried in tactics and who can’t clearly see their way out of the weeds, to miraculously change their ways overnight with little to no “hands on” coaching, intervention and accountability reviews, you’ll be grossly disappointed. The best approach is to help these leaders address and mitigate one excuse at a time, holding them accountable to excuse elimination. This method can take months vs. weeks, but if you stick with them, you’ll eventually help them shed their tactical ways and take on leadership relevant work to the benefit or the organization, themselves, their staff and their customers.

How to Delegate

Now that we’ve covered “why delegate”, let’s focus on how to delegate. While I can’t cover all possible scenarios, here are some general “getting started” tips:

  • Tell your team why you’ll be delegating certain tactics (so you can add more value as a leader) and ask for assignment volunteers. You may be surprised at how many folks volunteer, especially if a tactic for you is an interesting or stretch assignment for them. Some team members might actually be relieved that you’re finally “letting go” and trusting them to take on more advanced work. You don’t want to be labeled as a “control freak.”
  • Lock yourself in a room and force yourself to make a list of low hanging fruit that can be easily delegated, such as meetings. Before delegating meetings, determine which meetings are adding value and therefore worth attending. So many meetings are time wasters and should either be disbanded altogether or reinvented. As you assign the work, establish Delegatee expectations, e.g., within 48 hours, please provide a brief written recap of each meeting that includes bulleted Key Outcomes plus Actions, Owners and Dates, and post it to the share drive. That way you can review the notes if/when you’d like to stay informed plus you can verify that your Delegatee is fully “plugged into” his/her new responsibilities. Create a calendar reminder to review the notes to give you peace of mind that those bases are covered.
  • Identify moderately complex assignments including meetings where you’re in attendance to render decisions. Before delegating these assignments, take another look at how you approach the assignment to see if you can improve upon efficiencies prior to delegation, then use a variation of the “See One, Do One, Teach One” approach.
    • See One – the Delegatee watches how you approach and complete the assignment, with the Delegatee asking questions and taking copious notes.
    • Do One – the Delegatee leverages your approach and their notes to complete the assignment with you closely watching.
    • Do Many – the Delegatee continues to leverage your approach, completing the assignments until mastered. I highly suggest that your Delegatee and you agree upon evidence-driven check points, so the Delegatee can provide you with tangible evidence that you need so you may perform quality checks and ultimately verify mastery.
    • Teach One – the Delegatee teaches the approach to his/her back-up. That way if the Delegatee is out of the office, you don’t become the defacto back-up.
  • Identify your most complex assignments and start that delegation process using the same “See One, Do One, Do Many, Teach One” steps previously provided. I’m suggesting to start with less complex assignments then work your way up to more complex, just to get used to how delegation works.

Important Note: Prior to delegating, work with your Delegatees to see what’s on their plate that may need to be reprioritized. It’s not unusual however for Delegatees to readily absorb additional work. I typically find that the leaders are so buried in tactics, that they wrongfully assume that their staff is buried as well. That is not necessarily the case. The only folks who may be buried are the high achievers, so work with those folks more closely to ensure that they’re not just saying “yes” to taking on more work because they’re fearful of saying “no” plus asking you for your workload prioritization assistance.

Thought Provokers: Are you deep into the tactics and need to change your ways to increase your relevancy – or – are you managing a leader who is deep into the tactics and you need to intervene?

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