Tip # 6 - Don’t Delegate, Empower

Recently while working with one of our clients, it became clear she had a leadership problem. Her vision and hard work had grown her company to multiple millions; her customers and employees loved her. As her company has grown, she has hired capable people to help her manage her business. In some cases, she’s put family members in key positions.

But there is chaos in her organization. Her company has stopped growing and it is bleeding profusely from theft and inefficiency. Her problem: her inability to delegate properly and then get out of the way. She likes to sell. That’s what she does best. She hired a COO to run the company, so she could devote her time to growing the business.

However, every time the COO tries to implement systems, job descriptions, standards or procedures, disgruntled employees go behind his back to the owner. She, then, sabotages his authority and undermines the things he tries to do. She’s addicted to being the “answer man.” The COO tries to stop the bleeding; fire ineffective family members and friends; and hold employees accountable for performance, but many times she continues to intervene. She’s the problem.

Learning to empower is a master leadership skill. People want to use their skills to innovate and create solutions to problems. Micro-managing prevents you from tapping into the highest motivations, talents and genius of people. It insults and alienates them, depersonalizes work and creates low-trust cultures.

Give your people clear outcomes (the results) or expectations. Give subordinates values and standards of performance; be sure to clarify what resources are available to them. Then make sure they understand the consequences, good or bad, of the result (what’s in it for them and the company). Then get out of the way. Let them do their work and use their own skills and creativity to accomplish the task.

The final step gives you the control. You must define accountability. The lack of accountability leads to mediocrity. Regularly have them “return and report.” That’s when you can coach, i.e., give feedback and give direction. Never, never undermine an employee; coach, train and empower instead. Don’t be your own business development problem.

Thanks for reading.

Sam Allman
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