Creative leadership is growing in importance. Accordance to a 2010 IBM Study, creativity was ranked as the most important attribute needed in executive leaders. The following is a compilation of quotes on creative leadership, the ability of leaders to lead with creativity and generate and implement creative ideas.
Quotes on Creative Leadership
“Creative leadership involves a unique vision or brilliant strategy, and sometimes both”
“Creative leadership involves encouraging debate knowing that the clash of viewpoints often produces creative gold”
“Creative leadership requires the ability to facilitate collaboration between the people who generate ideas and those best suited to implement them.”
“Creative leadership is the ability to discern between earth-shattering ideas and budget-destroying imposters.”
“Creative leadership involves assembling diverse but balanced teams in order to leverage strengths and compensate for weaknesses.”
“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” ~Arnold Glasow
“A good general not only sees the way to victory; he also knows when victory is impossible.” ~Polybius
“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” ~Max Lucado
“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” ~General George Patton
“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” General Colin Powell
“The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world.” ~Malcolm Gladwell
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~John Quincy Adams
“Visionary people face the same problems everyone else faces; but rather than get paralyzed by their problems, visionaries immediately commit themselves to finding a solution.” ~Bill Hybels
“Creative leadership involves imagining a new world, or ways to make the current one better.”
“Creative leadership involves blowing up the status quo, and out of the chaos, building a new world.”
*Quotes on creative leadership are by Travis N. Turner unless otherwise indicated.
While there are many skills that an effective creative leader must have, one of the most important skills is strategic thinking. Creative leadership is the ability to generate and implement both an effective strategy (culminating the first three creativity steps) and effective solution (culminating in the last four creativity steps). Creative leadership involves effective skills with visionary thinking, strategic thinking, and ideational thinking (creative leaders are good at generating many ideas). This essay is explores what constitutes an effective strategy, namely the value of a particular strategy.
Strategies can be grouped into four categories based on the potential value of a strategy (“Strategic Value”) and its respective difficulty of implementation (“Implementation Difficulty”). To start this discussion on strategies, we will start by comparing and contrasting the four categories.
While both Critical and Cumulative strategies have high-strategic value, Critical strategies usually have the highest payoff of all strategies, but are more difficult to implement and, as a result, typically foreclose one or more alternative strategies. In contrast, Cumulative strategies have good payoffs, but are easier to implement, and generally speaking, do not foreclose other opportunities. Cumulative strategies often work in combination with other strategies, and thus, have an additive impact when aggregated. Cumulative strategies have less risk and can pursue so long as they make sense on a cost-benefit basis and profitable Critical strategies have been exhausted.
However, the matrix above isn’t really drawn to scale as Critical strategies can sometimes have many times (if not 1000X) the potential impact (and risk) as Cumulative strategies. Even within each quadrant, there can be great variations in terms of difficulty of implementation and strategic value so nuanced analysis and rank-ordering is usually a good idea, both across and within quadrants.
Critical, Quagmire, and Disaster strategies are all marked by high Implementation Difficulty. However, a Critical strategy, if implemented effectively, has high Strategic Value. What makes a Quagmire so bad is that it has high Implementation Difficulty but low strategic value, even if implemented successfully. The third alternative – Disaster – is not an initial strategy, but rather the actual result when a Critical strategy fails or is implemented poorly.
Both Cumulative and Distraction strategies are easy to implement and tend to be “additive” in nature with each successfully executed strategy bringing the organizational closer to desired results. This is because easy-to-implement solutions typically do not foreclose the pursuit of other strategies (pursued sequentially or simultaneously). Though Distraction strategies may have some value, they are labeled Distractions as they divert attention from Cumulative and Critical strategies (if a Distraction strategy had significant strategic value if would be Cumulative).
Having discussed the four quadrants of strategy, this posting will now explore some particular strategies associated with high-strategic value.
High-Strategic Value Strategies
Recruiting and hiring the best people is usually a Critical strategy (because it forecloses the opportunity to hire someone else), though some hires have greater potential to impact an organization than others. For instance, hiring a new CEO will likely be a Board of Directors most Critical strategy of the year; hiring additional members of the leadership team might still be a Critical strategy. Hiring a new payroll manager, however, at best is more of a Cumulative strategy as the potential payoff of such strategy is not nearly as high.
One common mistake of organizations is that often over-emphasis resume or technical skills over interpersonal skills, character, and general likeability. An organization will never be great if employees don’t like the other employees that work there.
In addition to hiring the best people, organizations should be committed to developing their people (through mentoring, training, education, delegation of good assignment, development plans, etc.), doubly so in respect to their current and future leaders and triply so in regards to a few hand-selected Critical leaders.
Sometimes overlooked, though equally important to hiring the best, is actually firing the worst performers in an organization. Too often leaders put off having honest and frank conversations with a few “bad egg” individuals. While people should be given some chance to correct behavior, they need not be given many chances. You cannot overestimate the damage one individual can do to an organization. Even if they aren’t causing major problems, they are taking a space that could be filled by a problem-free contributor or even a star performer.
By identifying and progressively moving the weakest performers out the organization, the organization strengthens its key assets – its people. Incidentally, this is why governments are totally inefficient, instead of firing people that should be fired, they give them jobs and pensions.
While the following statements border on flippancy, Mitt Romney’s quote is actually part of the reason he is an effective executive leader: “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me … You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service that I need, I want to say, I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.”
Similarly, successful leader Donald Trump’s key catch phrase is appropriately, “you’re fired!” While good leaders wield their power to fire with tact, judgment, patience, and mercy, they still must do it – that is why they are the leader. However, the best course is to hire very carefully (as a Critical strategy) and slowly so as to prevent the need for firing.
Critical or Cumulative strategies usually involve obtaining, preserving, and deploying resources effectively. Obtaining additional resources is usually an important strategy, which is why college president and politicians must be excellent fund-raisers. In addition, resources must be obtained regardless of whether they come from within (budget and head count allocations) or without (grants, revenue, contributions) the organization. The failure to obtain resources can lead to disaster or stagnation within an organization or department.
Likewise, obtaining extra resources, if deployed effectively, can generate “momentum” as discussed below. In addition, there are situations where acquiring a specific resource at a specific time is of the utmost strategic importance to execution of particular strategy. For instance, the selection of Vice-President Candidate (a resource) is often the single most important strategy decision in a presidential election because of their ability to sway (for or against) certain voting blocs and thereby win (or lose) certain states.
As Benjamin Franklin would say, “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Thus, conserving resources is a high pay-off strategy. One way to conserve resources is by carefully cutting any unnecessary or unhelpful costs. Another way to indirectly cut costs is by a constant commitment to process improvement. Process improvement allows organizations to increase their output while decreasing their inputs, thus conserving resources. As a caveat, in some organizations, being too efficient with your budget actually leads to departmental budget cuts, so you have to be careful if you are department head.
Besides physical resources (people, buildings, computers), there are also intangible resources – time, energy, commitments, morale, etc. An effective strategy seeks to increase and conserve these types of intangible resources just the same as tangible resources.
Likewise, sometimes the worst “leaks” in an organization is psychic drain due to certain aggravating factors (annoying policies, employees, or the pursuit of Quagmire or Distraction strategies) that need to be alleviated.
Similarly, an effective strategy is always to deploy resources more effectively. Similar to process improvement, by deploying resources well you can increase output while decreasing inputs. Take a look at my strategic delegation posting for advice on how to do this more effectively.
If you employ all these strategies regarding obtaining, conserving, and deploying resources effectively, you will (hopefully) find that your organization sudden has a surplus of resources. What then? Use them on Critical and Cumulative strategies of course!
In fact, it is by careful use of your resources you can pursue multiple strategies simultaneously (not all of them can be Critical however). In particular, you should deploy them on strategies that will generate momentum throughout the organization, including securing key wins, boosting morale, eliminating bottlenecks or drains, improve relationships with key stakeholders, developing leaders and staff, or generating competitive advantage, etc.
Critical or Cumulative strategies often involve improving relationships with key stakeholders, both internal and external. In addition, even strategies that involve ideas, technology, or other things have important people considerations. Thus, a key strategy is to identify and to improve relationships with key stakeholders. These could include key internal leaders, employees, as well as external customers, supporters, and even detractors. While sometimes you have a specific position that you are advocating, developing relationships ahead-of-time is important practice that will help ensure that you have “the votes”, exactly when you need them.
To accomplish this, an effective strategy is to take the time to meet with and communicate with key stakeholders. In particular, is wise to spend a lot of time listening (rather than talking) in order to learn about the preferences and interests of the stakeholders. The more you know about the key stakeholders, the better you can adapt your potential strategy – whatever it be – to the context. In addition, supporting the (non-controversial) projects and interests of key stakeholders helps build the “goodwill” bank account and often ensures that they will support your (non-controversial) measures in the future as well.
Events & Incidents & Opportunities
Critical or Cumulative strategies often involve handling events, incidents, and opportunities – planned and unplanned – is an important strategy and leadership task. To draw an unfortunate analogy, the most effective leaders act *somewhat* like politicians during a campaign season – they monitor current events, respond to incidents, seize opportunities, and use social events to move their organizations and their campaigns forward with ruthless efficiency.
For instance, think about Joe Paterno’s failure to manage incidents (allegations of abuse on his staff) decimated much that he accomplished. In contrast, the textbook example of crisis management is Johnson and Johnson’s management of the cyanide Tylenol incident in the 1980s. This is where J&J was willing to pull the contaminated Tylenol from the shelf costing some short-term financial pain, though the long-term benefit to its brand were enormous.
Equally important to crisis management, however, is a leader’s ability to spot and capitalize (and create) opportunities. If executed well, a leader can turn an opportunity in a small or large victory, which generates a leader’s most important (and fickle) resource – organizational momentum. Anyone who has played on a team that was “on fire” knows the power of momentum. Likewise, anyone who has spent time on a losing team or organization knows that negative momentum can be a black hole whose gravity is difficult to escape.
In the past, organizations could have strategies that did not depend on technology. Now days, it is hard to imagine any strategy that did not depend on technology in at least in some fashion. In some cases like tech companies or web companies, the technology is the strategy. For most industries, technology merely supports or enables the strategy. In any case, effective strategies will always involve some use of technology.
Choosing the Right Strategy
Of all the Critical strategies, the one with the highest payoff is choosing the right strategy. While organizational devote some time to strategic planning, they may not necessarily devote the right time, people, and resources needed to determine a break-through strategy.
Very often, choosing traditional strategies (increasing product quality, reducing costs, driving revenue) are either Quagmire or Distraction strategies. In contrast, the strategies chosen by creative leaders like Steve Jobs (integrate music hardware, software, and music distribution), have enormous payoff if they succeed.
Whatever strategy you choose, it should be one that seeks to develop sustainable competitive advantages throughout your organization and industry. While it depends on your exact organization and industry, competitive advantage can include key technological advances or initiatives, world-class customer service, or expertise. In addition, developing core competencies such as marketing and product management, process improvement, innovation, or sales can be distinct competitive advantages that propel your organization ahead of the competition.
Where a creative leader often excels (when compared to a traditional, non-creative leader) is developing an effective, sometimes unique, often innovative strategy in achieving a desired objective. In addition, a creative leader will often have a vision that is either clearer or more expansive than traditional leaders.
A perfect example of this compares the late Steve Jobs of Apple with the leader of Sony during the same time. Sony was dominant player in the personal CD player and MP3 player market such that it could have easily have leveraged its strong position into new, more compelling consumer products. Instead, Sony pursued a traditional strategy of incremental improvements and product line extensions, maximizing current revenues but missing the opportunity to disrupt and dominant the consumer music market.
In contrast, Steve Jobs had a vision much more expansive than mere revenue generation (though he did manage to generate tractor-trailer loads of cash) – revolutionizing consumer music hardware, software, and distribution, all at the same time. His strategy was revolutionary (not incremental) and involved the integration of music hardware, software, and distribution into one seamless, consumer-friendly system. The iPod, iTunes & Apple store represent the brilliant solution that executed the brilliant strategy that Steve Jobs developed.
Strategy versus Solution
Generally speaking, “strategy” is the culmination of the first three steps – diagnostic, visionary, and strategic thinking and results in the asking of the right question. From the example above, Sony’s leader implicitly asked, “how might we extend our product line and competencies to maximum revenue and market share?” In contrast, Steve Jobs might have asked, “how might we revolutionize the music industry by integrating consumer music hardware, software, and distribution paired with elegant design?” A revolutionary strategic question gets revolutionary solutions. Consistently pursue the wrong question and your organization is toast even before it starts.
The “solution” is the culmination of next four steps of the creativity cycle – ideational, evaluative, contextual, and tactical thinking – and it is the answer that is implemented in response to the strategic question.
Generally speaking, the impact of a solution is largely determined by the importance of the strategic question. For instance, what if Edison had asked, “how might I improve gas lamps” instead of “how might create the first commercially feasible electric light source?” Edison strategy was revolutionary, and so was the result. Thus, what really separates creative leaders from most other leaders is that creative leaders ask questions that tend to be revolutionary (re-ordering and disrupting the status quo) rather than incremental (optimizing the status quo).
Traditional Leaders versus Creative Leaders
Like traditional leaders (most CEOs), creative leaders must develop and execution good solutions to implement their strategies effectively. However, creative leaders tend to pursue revolutionary strategies (that reinvent the system) rather than the incremental strategies (that improve the existing system). In contrast, there are near countless CEOs that follow traditional business wisdom (incremental changes), implementing effective solutions, but never generate an innovative or disruptive strategy in their lives. It is a sad truth that organizations that are led by traditional leaders are often (though not always) doomed to “middle of the pack” status.
Future creative leaders have developed the rare ability to generate an innovative strategy, but may need to work on their leadership and execution skills before they can develop into a creative leader. Future creative leaders can develop into creative leaders if they are mentored and gain the necessary experiences and leadership skills that enable the effective implementation of a solution. Unfortunately, however, many future creative leaders fail to blossom into creative leaders because they often lack one or more essential skills – like self-discipline, social and political skills, or judgment that blends both vision and practicality.
Finally, there are some leaders who neither develop good strategies nor execute solutions well. These individuals must either improve quickly or find a new job, preferably not as a leader.
Developing into a Creative Leader
Creative leaders will not always outperform traditional leaders from the start, though over time creative leaders tend to prevail. This is because innovative strategies are harder to implement, and thus, require a mature leader who has honed his leadership skills over many years. For example, early on, Microsoft lead by a more traditional Bill Gates (who effectively executed solutions and strategies that were hardly innovative) ruthlessly crushed the more innovative Apple and Steve Jobs. However, after Steve Jobs developed over the years (i.e, grew into a true creative leader), Apple crushed Microsoft (and virtually every other company) over the past 15 years or so.
There are two paths towards becoming a creative leader. The first path involves first mastering leadership, but then learning to develop increasing daring and innovative strategies. For instance, a strong traditional leader (like a Mitt Romney) could work with his team to ask the right questions, and work towards becoming a creative leader.
However, the sad truth is that most traditional leaders tend to remain “stuck” in their mental paradigms. Few traditional leaders develop out of more traditional, white-bread backgrounds. This is because traditional leaders have a strong propensity for working within existing structures (hence their effectiveness as a leader). If measured on the Kirton Adaptation-Innovative (KAI) scale, traditional leaders would have a strong preference for adaption (working within existing structures). In contrast, creative leaders tend to work outside the status quo (innovation).
Just because most traditional leaders don’t make the leap to become a creative leader, it does not mean that can’t. They just need some training in creative problem solving (search CPSI on google) that will help launch them into a new life a creative leader. In addition, a traditional leader might pair with a more innovative (as measured on KAI) individual to find success as a creative leader.
Most creative leaders develop out the second path – starting as a future creative leader and eventually becoming creative leaders. A common characteristic of great creative leaders is that they do not conform to conventions and thus take much longer to mature and develop than traditional leaders. Eccentricity has it down-sides and takes creative leaders a long time to jettison (or sufficiently reduce) their socially unproductive behaviors while still keeping their visions and strategies that are laced with creative gold. In addition, future creative leaders often need to develop self-discipline organizational skills before they become develop truly effective creative leadership.
Besides learning to “hold back” their non-conformity a few notches, most future creative leaders need to spend years polishing their traditional leadership skills, especially diagnostic, evaluative, contextual, and tactical thinking. These are the skills (often possessed in abundance by traditional leaders) that are necessary to get solutions implemented. Future creative leaders tend to be possess inherent or latent strengths in regards to visionary, strategic, and ideational thinking (often lacked by traditional leaders) – the skills necessary to formulate brilliant strategies.
Overtime, future creative leaders can overcome their personal and leadership weaknesses and develop into great creative leaders. As a warning, however, failure to overcome these weaknesses will lead to perpetual ineffectiveness. In the recent political campaign, case in point is Newt Gingrich. While Newt was arguably a brilliant policy maker and a man with some potential to innovate and disrupt society (hopefully in a positive way), his personal baggage – a lack of self-discipline, grandiosity, arrogance, inability to manage, and personal character flaws – led his campaign to crash and burn when faced with a more disciplined traditional leader (Mitt Romney). However, if a future creative leader will persist in developing, gaining experience, and polishing his strengths and overcoming weaknesses, watch out!
In the month since I wrote the post on delegation (written in April, posted in July), I have made huge progress in learning to delegate. As a result, I actually have some interesting thoughts on the subject. In particular, there is a huge difference between merely assigning (or dumping) work on others and actual delegating effectively.
At work, we are adopting a semi-virtual law department model where we hire independent contractors to help us out our growing company. As a result, I have been working with multiple lawyers in trying to get the work of our department done. Here are some lessons learned:
Not all work should be delegated
While it depends on the amount of resources you have access to, not all work should be delegated. For instance, if you have certain projects that you want done in a particular way, it might make sense for you to keep them. However, you should not make this a common practice; else you are a bad delegator (micromanager). One way I get around this is that I will sometimes have one person start a project, yet give it to another will finish it. For example, we have one independent contractor who has been with us for years. She knows our organization very well (including our unique culture) and has a great attention to detail – as a result she can put final touches on projects and bring them to completion far more effectively than trying to get a similar result with a contractor who knows our company less well.
Delegating is about teaching, not efficiency
There is a real cost to delegation (cost to delegate = time spent explaining project + time spent monitoring project + difference in quality between what you want and what you get). Viewed in isolation, there is a real temptation to do a project yourself in order to minimize these costs associated with delegation.
However, though this is not frequently discussed, there is also a cost to not delegating (opportunity cost of the missed growth of the delegator and delegate + every issue always has to involve the boss + boss has less time to work on more important things). Anyone who is worked with or for a micromanager boss knows this – the boss gets involved in everything – which is an ineffective management practice and constitute very bad leadership.
The key to delegation is about teaching. Instead of mere explaining the specific details of an assignment, spend a few extra moments to explain the context and “why” behind the project. In addition, explain the “why” behind why it is better to do it this way versus that way (and also forces you to make sure there is actually a real “why”, not just arbitrary preferences). This information will help your delegate perform better and will help them grow over time. In addition, at the end of an assignment, always make sure that you close the loop with your delegate by sharing any tweaks that you made (and why) after receiving an assignment from the delegate that he or she may not have been privy to.
By investing your time in teaching and training, wonderful things happen. Over time, your delegate grows and can take on high-quality work with less assistance. In addition, the costs of delegation continue to shrink as less time is spent explaining and monitoring projects, and the difference between what you get and what you want decreases.
Delegation helps your team grow
Delegation helps your team grow. By freeing up busy but experienced personnel, they have more time to work on higher level projects that will help them continue to grow and improve their technical skills. By giving projects to less experienced members of your team, they gain experience and their skills grow as well.
When delegating, thoughtfully consider what projects you will give and to who. Each assignment is an opportunity for growth, so it should go to the person who needs that experience. For example, by giving contracts to a litigation lawyer, they gain experience outside of their normal area. In addition, they may bring their experience to bear in the new area and make useful suggestions about how to modify the contract to avoid certain problems.
In contrast, you might give the same type of projects to the same person. While this can be a little tedious, it allows them to gain expertise in a specific area becoming the subject matter expert within your team. My personal preference is allow for specialization, but at the same time, always cross-train so that there are “secondary” experts on your team in each subject area.
In addition, besides delegation, it is important to engage in constant knowledge sharing so that the members of the team learn from each and are constantly improving their knowledge and skills. One way to do this is hold periodic meetings to tackle certain projects, where all members of the team contribute their expertise to the project at hand.
Delegation leverages your growth
This principle was a total discovery to me. By having two or three people to delegate to, I can handle two or three times the number of projects and issues. By taking on more projects, my legal skills have grown dramatically as the supervising attorney.
Two illustrations will explain this. By himself, an ER doctor could hypothetically monitor and treat 10 or so patients at a time. But give him 5 experienced nurses, and he could treat 50 patients (hopefully without any dying). As a result, he gains professional experience 5X faster than had he worked by himself. There is a diminishing returns to this, however, as the depth of learning tends to decrease (as opposed to the breadth of experience) when you have more and more direct reports.
Another illustration is of a CEO. Rather than being over just the functional area over which he came (like a CFO for example), a CEO now has direct reports from other areas that he has little or no formal training or experience. As a result, he gains broad exposure to areas he never actually worked in.
As a result of delegation, a person can gain technical expertise within their domain at a faster rate and exposure to other areas in which they supervise employees but never actually worked in.
Delegation frees you up for higher-level work
My boss recently thanked me for my “proactive thinking and planning” as I’ve been managing our law department, which made me “think about thinking.” In order to continue to grow in your career, you should spend more and more time on higher-level thinking. As discussed in earlier postings, creative thinking actually involved 7 types of thinking, including diagnostic thinking (what are the facts of the situation), visionary thinking (what you want), strategic thinking (how to get it). The goal is engage in diagnostic, visionary, and strategic thinking more often.
The only way to get this “thinking time” is to delegate effectively so that you don’t have to spend all of your time “doing” the work (ideational, evaluative, contextual, and tactical thinking). In order to become more valuable, you have to spend more time “thinking.” One way I accomplish this regularly is by traveling a lot (except during the summer). My trips out of town always provoke new thinking as a result of exposure to different stimuli (new or different surroundings) (see my lateral thinking posting). I always come back from trips with new ideas, especially about how to be more effective at work.
I have considered trying to “get away” from the office more often, by taking a note pad outside and walking on a nearby golf course, or working from home for a few hours a week. Of all the places I am least creative; unfortunately it is my desk at work.
If it is not important, let it go
The flip-side of the “teaching” coin is the “let it go” side. In order to delegate effectively, you have to choose your battles carefully. If something really doesn’t matter that much or there is a better way but the chosen way is working alright, than let it go! There is an optimal amount of teaching in any delegation situation while any additional “teaching” pushes you over the edge from good manager to micromanager. So let it go!
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