Even though this blog is entitled “creativity-leadership”, this blog for the past 18 months has focused almost entirely on creativity for one simple reason – I have much to say on the subject, which makes writing on the topic relatively easy. The opposite is true in regards to leadership. While I like the topic, neither practicing leadership nor writing on it comes naturally. Even so, I decided that would write on leadership topics to help myself become a better leader as the act of writing is a great learning tool.
Thus, the following entries on leadership are not those of “born leader”, but rather that of a humble leader who is learning by trial and error. Down the road a bit, I hope to write on the budding topic of creative leadership, specifically how (a) ordinary leaders can unlock the creativity of their followers and (b) leaders can use creativity to take their leadership to the next level. This is a new field within leadership and creativity, and I hope to be at its forefront.
In my life, I have two main leadership roles. First, I am an assistant leader at a congregation of young single adults. Second, at work, I have been managing the law department on a day-to-day basis (without the official title but all the responsibility). Recently, I made the unfortunate discovery that, in both of these roles, I am a poor delegator. You too might be a bad at delegation, if you exhibit any of the following warning signs:
* You have perfectionist and/or micro-manager tendencies
* Delegated projects still occupy lots of your time and mental energy, or are constantly coming back on your desk
* The delegated person is not showing initiative and acts disempowered or feeble
* Your staff is not increasing in terms of skills, knowledge, and experience
* You only work effectively with one or two individuals who understand how you like to work
* Work keeps piling up on your desk and/or you keep doing more and more to keep your organization running smoothly
* You delegate too much, and your delegates begin to ignore you and the work you assign
In contrast, the sign of an effective delegator is free time. I used to notice that the former CEO of my company, an awesome leader and a good friend of mine, often looked bored at work. He wasn’t really bored as he constantly was meeting with his leaders who swarmed into and out of his office. But overall, he had lots of time to think and focus on the big picture. His “lieutenants” were in charge of the different businesses, and they were fully engaged in their work. He would comment on the “details” of any particular subject, but he did it in such a way that the responsibility for the work alwaysremained on the delegate.
When delegating an assignment, he started by giving a clear assignment but then asked you to restate the assignment in your own words. Listening to your restatement, he would clarify (if necessary) and confirm the assignment. Interestingly, he never “gave help” or interfered with the assignment or micromanaged, but would remind of you of a deadline or of the assignment and that he would follow up. He always had high expectations of his delegates, and they always wanted to live up to his assessments of them. You were always part of his team, and wanted to remain there (he was the CEO, after all).
* Delegation frees up leaders to work on strategic priorities such as key projects, leadership development, and so forth
* Delegation, when done properly, builds up the skills, talents, and capacity of the delegate
* Communicate assignment clearly (important outcomes)
* Check for understanding, have delegate restate the assignment, clarifying where necessary
* Don’t proscribe methods or process (except where absolutely necessary)
* Communicate follow-up and reporting.
* Be careful about offering unsolicited (or solicited) help to the delegate – once delegated, you shouldn’t be taking back a project in whole or part
* Respect the stewardship and authority of your delegate in all that you do
* Don’t interfere, legitimize delegate’s authority with others