Training as a Tool of Delegation
Delegating without empowering is a recipe for disappointment.
I have served in several leadership positions at different times in my life to date. I served as president of the Royal Ambassadors in my Church while growing up. I also function as the senior Prefect in my secondary school (high school).
My idea of a leader, back then, was someone who could do everything.
For example, in an organisation where I am appointed the President. Alongside other people in other positions like the Secretary and Treasurer.
I believe that if the Secretary does not perform their duty for whatever reason. It’s my responsibility as the President to do their job too.
What then happens if the treasurer is not performing up to expectation? Again I must rise to the occasion. That was the way I saw it, and it “worked” for a while.
Although, this way of thinking bred in me a very high sense of responsibility, which has stayed with me to date. Yet, that leadership style is neither sustainable nor scalable.
A leader is expected to be capable but is not expected to take on every single responsibility.
I never knew this form of leadership stuck with me until my good boss Matthieu called my attention to it. He showed me how and gave me concrete examples of how he is doing the delegation.
He went as far as adding it to my OKR, and I am glad he showed me the way.
One of the reasons I find it difficult to delegate is the fear of will the job get done exactly as I would. The answer is most likely no.
Nonetheless, I realised that showing my team members how to do a task. Spending some time to work on the said task together a couple of times. They get good enough to do it on their own.
This is liberating as all I need to do now is teach the people I want to delegate to, and the job will get done.
For instance, when I want our team to start writing quality technical specifications. I wrote the first ones and shared them with the team.
Afterwards, whenever there’s a need to write a new tech spec, I will assign it to another person. Citing the ones I wrote as a reference and guide to achieving the expected outcome.
Once they’re done with their draft, we both jump on a call and review it together line by line. Through this process, the team members could see my thought process and what are the things I check for.
Eventually, they were able to write great tech specs on their own and even review those of others.
In another instance, when I want senior team leaders to start doing MR reviews, I repeat the step above. I reviewed their own MRs and submitted my own MRs for review.
I re-reviewed other MRs that they reviewed and pointed out some things for them to look out for. Over time, they got better and better and yielded satisfactory results.
This process, of aiding, requires great effort, and the cooperation of all parties. It goes beyond ONLY pointing out what to do. It requires the provision of a guidance and support system for a copacetic outcome.
The leader can’t achieve this alone if the team members are not willing to learn.
There’s a Yoruba adage “Although you can forcefully bring the horse to the river, you can’t force it to drink”.
Both the leader and the follower must be in concert for this to work. So that when the follower becomes the leader, they’ll know what to do and how to do it right.
This is a good time to remind myself and dear reader that we all have different capacities. We need varying times to “catch up” and align.
Thus, the leader must be patient with his team members. Provided the team members are willing and putting in the work.
This part, I’m still working on myself as it’s very easy to think I could have done that in 5 minutes.
In conclusion, as 2023 was rounding up, I was given the opportunity to lead another team come 2024.
The best part, one of my current team members will take the reigns with support from other senior leaders.
It’s a bitter-sweet experience because, on one hand, it means a lot of work settling down into the new team.
On the other, it means, to some extent, I have replicated myself.
Cheers to another adventure, and a year full of impacts.
Have you delegated to someone in the past, and it came back to bite you? Or did it turn out great?
Share your experience in the comments.