May 25

Are you a Leader or a Super IC?

Too many managers are actually operating at a Super Individual Contributor (IC) level. They are failing to lead their team. 
Yet with a few adjustments, you can create that gap between you and your team and up your leadership game. 
Telltale signs you may be falling into this trap are often evident when you delegate. Delegation is a superpower. It is an opportunity to empower your team for success and, importantly, get things off your to-do list and into the hands of your team.
In this blog, I share the common reasons why delegation goes wrong and 5 tips to harness this superpower.

Fear of losing control keeps you playing ‘safe’

Have you ever left briefing a task to the last minute, worried the person wouldn't do it well enough, and decided to do it yourself? I know I have.
The fear of losing control is a common hurdle when it comes to delegation. Managers worry that the task won't be handled properly or to a high enough standard if they're not directly involved. They do not trust their team enough to do the job well. 
This is classic Super-IC behaviour. The problem with this is you are missing two of the key roles of leaders, thinking and planning strategically and building the capability of your team.

Too busy doing

Delegating tasks requires an upfront time investment on your part, and time is the number one thing most managers say they never have enough of. If you do not have a regular and consistent planning approach, you will forever fall into the reactive and ad hoc mode of managing and delegating tasks in the day-to-day.

It may take time to train a team member to do a particular task to the standard you want, however, once that is done, you have reclaimed some time.

You must ask yourself if you have enough time to think strategically. If the answer is no, you need to get activities off your to-do list so you can prioritise the valuable time to do the activities that will make a difference that no one else in your team can do.

Communincation Illusion

I often refer to a quote in workshops by George Bernard Shaw: “The problem with communication is the illusion it has taken place”.

Managers who fail to communicate their expectations and provide necessary guidance can result in misunderstandings, errors, and frustration for both themselves and their team. No manager goes in trying to do this, but it emphasises the intentional and systemic approach you need to ensure you both end these delegation conversations on the same page.

Five tips to release your time and delegate better

1. Systemise your approach to delegation: Start by identifying tasks that can be effectively delegated. Determine which responsibilities align with your team members' skills, interests, and development goals.

Delegate tasks that will provide growth opportunities and challenge your team members while also relieving your own workload.

Document your thinking to bring transparency to delegated tasks and track progress, including reminding you of agreed milestones or check-ins.

The more you look ahead and do this as part of your regular quarterly and monthly planning, the more you will see opportunities to delegate bigger tasks and projects to individuals that help build their capability over time and releases time for you in the medium term.

2. Communicate expectations clearly: Take the time to communicate your expectations.

Describe the desired outcomes, deadlines, and other relevant information. For example, simply explaining, “for me, a good job doing this would be….” gives you an opportunity to describe the high performance you want to see.

Ask good questions to confirm that your team members understand the task at hand and have the necessary resources and support to complete it successfully. This will also help build trust between you.

3. Be clear on the decision-making scope. How much authority does the individual have?

Defining who the decision maker is, be it you, them, or someone else, provides clear parameters. Define what involvement you want. Do you want them to keep updating you, or are they free to go and complete the task alone?

This is often missed and yet makes a massive difference to accountability and knowing the boundaries so you do not need to keep checking where they are on a particular task or, worse still, swoop back in and take over. 

4. Use your One-to-Ones for support. Regularly check in on their progress, offer guidance if necessary, and provide feedback and coaching.

Recognise and appreciate their efforts and achievements to motivate them and reinforce their sense of ownership and responsibility.
5. Establish the high-value activities you will do instead.

Schedule the reclaimed time to work on the high-value activities that will make the biggest difference to your and your team's performance. Having a clear view of this is an incentive to keep delegating and not get sucked back into the tactical day-to-day all the time.

Make a plan to reclaim your time

Delegation is a vital skill for managers to master. If you think you are slipping into the Super IC mode, make deliberate plans to stop and reorientate yourself in your leadership role. Look for opportunities in the coming week to put some of these tips into practice.

Effective delegation will relieve you of personal workload and cultivate a more engaged and motivated team, leading to greater success for the entire team and organisation. So, embrace delegation, trust your team, and watch as your leadership and their potential flourish.

Discover how 10 minutes a week can step change your leadership impact.

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