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Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: Delegation

By Margaret Smith
SPEAKER | CAREER COACH | CERTIFIED INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY PRACTITIONER

Contrary to what you may expect, promoting the talents of others can actually help to showcase your own skills and strengthen your brand. This magical habit is called delegation, and it’s an essential tool to propelling your own career, improving results, developing your personal brand, and keeping your workload under control.

Let’s all start by taking a moment to acknowledge the often-ignored fact: There is only a limited amount you can do, no matter how hard you work. Because we are not super-humans, it’s essential that we learn to let go sometimes.

This having been said, there is a way to get it all done, and done well: delegation. Often, delegation gets overlooked as a viable tool because it is a lot of work upfront. Instead of doing the task yourself, delegation requires you to share your insights, know-how, and expectations with others.

To Delegate, or Not to Delegate: That is the Question

When faced with a new task, don’t just jump into it right away. Instead, ask yourself, “Would this task be a worthy use of my time?” If you continue to accept projects that don’t align to, or properly utilize, your skills, you’re diluting your brand. Perhaps there is someone else who has the skills to do the task better, or who would be eager to develop skills that the task would involve?

Strategically delegating tasks to others allows you to focus on the tasks that reinforce your real skills—those you want to be known for as part of your personal brand. (If you haven’t yet considered what your personal brand is, now is the time to start!)

How to Handle the “Who?”

When considering who to delegate to, take into account the following questions:

  • What are this person’s skills and knowledge?
  • Does this person currently have space in their workload?
  • What is this person’s preferred work style?

Once you have decided on the best candidate, don’t forget to document the process. When practicing delegation, it’s extremely important to keep track of your processes to save time in the future and develop best practices that promote clarity and efficiency. Just as you, say, develop practices that keep your house clean—washing dishes after meals, placing laundry in a hamper, etc.—creating processes for sharing tasks at work will cut down on confusion and clutter, not to mention saving time and preventing mistakes.

Your Challenge:

Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, fight the urge to dive headfirst into your pile of tasks. Instead, assess these projects and consider whether or not some of them can be delegated to another member of your team instead.

Do you have any helpful tips about delegating effectively? Please share!

Interested in navigating the changes in your life, finding success in your job hunt, or making the most of your career? Contact UXL Today!

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shaking-hands

Ever witnessed a child being told they must share their toys with another child? Their reaction to this news wasn’t too pretty, was it?

Although we’ve grown to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around us and we don’t always get our way, that small child’s voice is still inside us, protesting whenever things don’t go how we want them to.

But the truth is, in order to lead in any real sense of the word, you must learn the art of making compromises. It’s easy to say that, and I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but how do you actually do it?

1. Express yourself fully, and listen intently. Explain your reasoning behind your viewpoint. Often our views are skewed by our emotions, which make it harder to make effective decisions. Articulating your view to another person forces you to take a good long look at your position, and in many cases this allows you to see where your view may not be perfect. By the same token, listen to what the other person is actually saying, not what you think they’re saying. Hear them out before you rush to judgment. Open communication is crucial to getting things done.

2. Think from the other person’s perspective. If it continues to be difficult for you to accept the other person’s position, do your best to put yourself in their shoes. What’s the reasoning behind their thoughts, ideas, and opinions? Even if you disagree, can you see why they hold these views?

3. Be committed to results. Compromising pushes two opposing viewpoints past a gridlock into a region where they can move from ideas into actions. In this way, compromise is one of the most powerful tools we have to getting results. A compromise is a mature way of acknowledging that we can never fully get what we want all of the time, but we can get more of what we want if we work together to achieve it.

4. Be prepared to be disappointed, but give it time. At first, you’ll only see what you didn’t get out of a compromise. This is understandable, but don’t give up on it just yet. In the longterm, compromising pays off for both parties, as you’ve established an alliance and proven to one another that you are capable of working together and taking steps forward.

Have a great week!

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july-4th-tempe-town-lake

On this Fourth of July, I hope you’re taking time to get outside, enjoy time with friends and family, and see some fireworks. But the holiday also offers us a chance to look back on the country’s history and see what kind of lessons and insight we might take from it. In particular, what can we learn about leadership from the first American leaders?

This is the topic of a blog post from Harvard Business review blog: here’s the link.

In contrast to the way we see the Founding Fathers–great, infallible men who did no wrong–the article points out that each founder had both brilliant areas of expertise, but also glaring weaknesses. “Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, was superb with a pen,” writes Jeffrey Gedmin, CEO of Legatum Institute. “He was a notoriously poor public speaker, however.” Similarly, John Adams was extremely intelligent and courageous, but suffered “extreme mood swings” that made him difficult to work with.

So while we may view the Founders in a heroic light, the truth is they too were normal people with normal strengths and weaknesses. The success of the country came not from strength or genius of individuals, but from the power of cooperation and complementary skill sets.

Just a little food for thought. Have a great holiday weekend!

 

 

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time to adapt

I once collaborated on a project with a few people from my department. We all had different areas of expertise, so we relied on each other equally in order to get it off the ground.

The problem was, our visions of not only how we were going to execute the project, but what the project even looked like, were all over the board. It took weeks of frustrating debate just to come to an agreement on the project itself.

Then, there was the tug-of-war between us at every step of the process. One person wanted to draft specific, detailed assignments for each of us to follow verbatim. Since a few of us worked better in a more fluid, open style, that became a point of contention. Another member of the team insisted we meet in person multiple times a week, while there was one individual who thrived working on her own time.

Of course, we eventually got the job done. Once we had time to settle down and look back on the project, we admitted we could have all been more flexible.

It’s easy to get tunnel vision in situations like these. So easy, in fact, that I’ve witnessed the calmest, most professional leaders become almost hysterical when they’re in the middle of a collaborative project. Why is this?

I think it’s mainly due to pride. When we have a task before us, we all visualize how the end result will look, which is very necessary. But we unintentionally force our personal vision onto everyone else, even when we’re unaware that we’re doing it.

Think of a time when you resisted a suggestion from someone in a collaborative situation. I’m willing to bet that your resistance to their suggestion wasn’t necessarily because it was a bad idea. I’ll go so far as to say you objected because deep down, you were convinced that your vision was inherently better than theirs.

This is where the tunnel vision happens. Assuming that you have the better vision, you are unwilling/unable to truly give their idea a fair chance. Often, you’ll realize after the fact that they actually had a great idea, and you may scratch your head and wonder, “Why didn’t I see that at the time?”

The remedy? Remind yourself every step of the way that your vision isn’t inherently perfect. Remind yourself that you are one person, working in a team. Listen to your collaborators. Accept that the product won’t ever be exactly as you envision it. Allow yourself to change your mind and see alternatives.

The good news: having this skill enhances your end product. Flexibility leads to innovation and dynamic results well past what you expected. This is because the ability to be flexible unleashes the awesome power of collaborative work between many talented minds.

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Business confrontation.

There are times when an unpleasant confrontation with someone in your business is unavoidable. As much as we’d like to sweep the issue under the rug, hoping the problem fixes itself, as a leader it’s gotta be you who deals with the issue.

Years ago, I made the mistake of ignoring a problem. A team member, who usually did top notch work and who I greatly valued, began to underperform on a consistent basis. I didn’t want to say anything: she was a great person, she’d done great work in the past, and we all gathered that she was having some personal issues. So, at first I chalked it up to a temporary lull in her performance and decided to ignore the red flags.

But then she began to miss meetings, show up late for work, and generally appear to be unfocused and uncommitted. As a result, my supervisors began to confront me, wondering if I needed help getting my team’s performance back on track. It was only then, weeks after this whole thing started, and after our performance suffered enough that my supervisors took notice, that I finally decided to have a sit down with the problem person.

Everything got straightened out and the team was soon back to performing well. But I learned then that the longer you put off a confrontation, the harder you make it on yourself.

So, if you need to confront someone, do it right away. The pressure is low, and hopefully there isn’t much tension between the two of you at this point. If you let it go, you run the risk of giving the offending person more space to continue on a damaging path.

Secondly, be clear and specific when you have the sit down. When someone is being confronted, they take the defensive and often misconstrue what you’re saying. They may generalize and take it as an attack on them as people, for instance. To avoid this, lay out the parameters: “In these areas, I’ve noticed that you have not met your marks…”

However, the confrontation must be led by your heart, not your head. While it’s crucial to show the person exactly where they are not meeting expectations, don’t make this the only factor. After all, we’re humans, not robots. Put yourself in their shoes. What might be going on in their life that may be influencing their work? Is there anything you can do to help? Offer support. Reiterate that you are there for them, and that the confrontation is happening out of loving concern, not reprimand.

Finally, make a joint game plan that lays out how the two of you will resolve the issue. Include a timeline if need be. This doesn’t have to be a written document, of course. But it should be specific and clear. And it should above all serve to encourage the individual to seek out support and build trust between you.

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In this TED talk, author Susan Cain makes the case for appreciating and accommodating introverts.

 

Her talk is insightful, and I highly recommend you watch it, but it runs almost twenty minutes, so I’ll highlight big points:

-Before all else, Cain stresses we need to be clear on what introversion is. Introversion is not the same as shyness, which is the fear of judgment from others. Extroverts, says Cain, crave social interaction, whereas introverts feel at their most capable when they are in quieter environments. The key to maximizing our talents, she says, “is for us all to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.”

-Workplaces nowadays are built with extroverts in mind: open offices, collaborative meetings, group projects, etc. Introverts’ work and success frequently suffer as a result.

-When it comes to leadership, introverts tend to be passed over for leadership positions. However, Cain points out that many of the greatest minds had big introverted streaks in them: Charles Darwin took long walks in the woods and turned down dinner invitations; Dr. Seuss came up with his stories alone in a bell tower of his house; Steve Wozniak, inventor of the first Apple computer, credits his expertise to devoting long hours alone studying computers.

Cain’s big point: We need a better balance between these two personality types in order to maximize creativity, productivity and cooperation in business and society.

What do you think? Where do you fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum? How does your work environment help or hinder your success? Do you think introverts are passed up for leadership roles because they don’t fit the common view of what a leader should be?

 

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collaboration

A recent study found that across the board, the most effective leaders demonstrated the following characteristics:

1) acts of humility, such as learning from criticism and admitting mistakes

2) empowering followers to learn and develop

3) acts of courage, such as taking personal risks for the greater good 

4) holding employees responsible for results

In other words, it is crucial to lead with humility. You may feel pressured to always have the right answer and to always take the reins, which is understandable. After all, the buck stops with you. But if you never allow your team room to find solutions in their own way, you’ll miss out on some amazing collaborations. I’ve witnessed some truly incredible things when I gave people room to learn, grow, ask questions and trust both me and one another.

In other news, the Star Tribune did a great piece on me. You can read it here.

Have a great week, all!

Margaret Smith

 

 

 

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