I am inspired by what people can accomplish when given the chance. Our work group just completed a team building event that several of our members called “the best team building event ever.” As the leader of our group that gave me tremendous pride. What gave me the greatest satisfaction was the fact that I did not plan any of it.
My contribution was the original idea and the trust I placed in a team member to fully research, plan and execute the entire function. I provided a little coaching, some parameters and suggestions as requested, but 100% of the event was owned by my delegate and she “killed it.” She far exceeded my expectations. Every step of the event was planned, researched and executed flawlessly to rave reviews.
So why do I call delegation a gift? True delegation is giving somebody the opportunity to take on a project, initiative or to expand their current responsibilities. I designed and teach a workshop called the Art of Delegation and typically I open with this thought starter: “Think about a time when somebody empowered you to take on greater responsibility.”
Most people are able to recall a pivotal moment where a leader in their life entrusted them with a key responsibility. I hear the pride and appreciation in their voices as my participants give their answers. You see, true delegation is synonymous with empowerment. Yes, empower means to give the authority to do something, but the definition that I like better is to make someone stronger and more confident.
My experience has taught me that with the right coaching and training people consistently rise to the occasion and accomplish the objectives set when delegating. Watching this this again and again inspires me. Of course this does not mean you give it to them and wash your hands of it. It means giving them the room and freedom to succeed or to fail safely. The trick here is to pick something that they are capable of doing but it requires them stretch to a new capability. Delegation requires that we as leaders have faith in our people and belief in our own abilities to coach, train and support. It also requires the farmer’s mindset: plant in the spring and harvest in the fall.
Watching people expand their capabilities and strengthen their confidence is a truly rewarding experience. You are giving them a gift they will remember like my participants who fondly recall leaders who entrusted them. As your employees take on more and more responsibility you will eventually get the gift of time. Like a farmer, it requires that you continuously sow today in the form of delegation, so you can reap the reward tomorrow.