The skill of delegating is critical to being effective when managing teams. One of my very first managers told me when I became a field manager, ‘Tom, a key thing that you need to do is replace yourself.’ I thought to myself, what does he mean ‘replace myself’?
He said two things in reply. One, in terms of succession planning, we need to make sure that if anything happens to you, that there is somebody behind you who can kind of step up to the role, otherwise it leaves a big hole.
Secondly he said, ‘If you are ambitious and you want to move up the line, you need to be able to find people who can replace your role before you move up.’ I thought that made a lot of sense, and that is a philosophy that I’ve actually adhered to for my whole career. Which is really, how do you ensure that you can replace yourself? How do you ensure you can get somebody stepping into your role?
What’s that got to do with delegation? Well, a key way of developing people, is in fact to delegate because delegating ensures that you are availing your team of opportunities to grow and to develop their own skill sets and knowledge. I’m not suggesting you should delegate everything in terms of decision making because you do need to balance and weigh out the risks involved with the benefits. Start small. Delegate some small tasks and be clear in terms of accountabilities of what you expect from your team members. Once that’s done, talk a little bit more about why you are doing it. In other words, extrovert your intentions. Talk about the reason why you are delegating as this is actually a way of developing teams.
The third aspect of delegation, is to get some feedback from how it has worked for them. In other words, the messaging you’re constantly giving your teams is that you want to develop them, you want to help them reach their full potential, and also that you believe in them. I have found many leaders who traditionally believe that knowledge is power, and therefore, tend to hang onto their knowledge without sharing it.
In today’s fast-paced world, it is not possible for us to know everything there is to know. As I’m sure you realise, as I do the older I get, how little we know. So we want to really tap into the intelligence of the teams, the collective intelligence. How can you leverage some of the differences that may be appearing across different cultures, different countries, and different parts of your team?
Here’s the reflection point for you. How can you develop your team members? What can you delegate more of, and therefore, how can you ensure others are stepping up which then perhaps allows you to, either step up or broaden your area of expertise and influence?