Alexander Abramson - December 2019

DELEGATE TO ELEVATE

Poor delegation is the Achilles’ heel of most leaders, who often confuse being “involved” with being “essential.” To determine if you’re holding on to work you should delegate out, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) recommends asking this simple question: “If you had to take an unexpected week off work, would your initiatives and priorities advance in your absence?” If your answer is no or you aren’t sure, then you’re probably too involved. No one person should be the cog that keeps everything in motion, no matter their position in the company. Luckily, HBR has created an audit using the following six T’s to identify which tasks can be delegated. Tiny: Small tasks that stack up can undermine the flow of your work. Registering for a conference, putting it on the calendar, and booking the flight are all small tasks someone else can handle. Tedious: These tasks are straightforward but not the best use of your time. Someone else can input lists into spreadsheets or update key performance indicators for a presentation. Time-Consuming: These important, complex tasks don’t require you to do the first 80% of the work. Identify what they are, pass them to someone else, and step in for the final 20% to give approval. Teachable: Is there a task only you know how to do? If so, teach someone else to do it, and step in for the last quality check when it’s done. Terrible At: It’s okay to be bad at some things. Great leaders know when to pass tasks off to someone who is more skilled than they are. The task will get done faster and at a much higher quality. Time-Sensitive: These tasks need to get done right now but are competing with tasks of a higher priority. Just because it has to get done immediately doesn’t mean you have to be the one to do it. Sure, some tasks only you can accomplish, but these are extremely rare. As the Virgin Group founder Richard Branson warns, needlessly resisting delegation is the path to disaster. “You need to learn to delegate so that you can focus on the big picture,” Branson says. “It’s vital to the success of your business that you learn to hand off those things that you aren’t able to do well.” The Secret to Being a Great Leader

“You have the power to change your behaviors,” says Susan Fowler, “but to be successful in changing, you need an evidenced-based framework for motivation and techniques for applying it.” In her new book, “Master Your Motivation: Three Scientific Truths for Achieving Your Goals,” Fowler synthesizes her decades of research into a guide that provides such a framework. In the process, she overturns countless widely held myths about what motivates us. Fowler believes the traditional carrot-and-stick approach to motivation (a combination of reward and punishment to induce a desired behavior) results from our perception of motivation as being either intrinsic or extrinsic. “Simplifying motivations into two types presents a conundrum when you aren’t intrinsically motivated,” she writes. “Your only fallback position is extrinsic motivation.” In other words, just by thinking about motivation as intrinsic versus extrinsic, you’ve already set yourself up to fail. To really motivate yourself and others, she argues, you need to think about motivation in different terms. Thankfully for the reader, Fowler defines an alternative framework for motivation. In what amounts to the book’s thesis, she states, “To master your motivation, create choice, connection, and competence.” When you measure motivation across these three factors, which are the result of rigorous academic research rather than folksy conventional wisdom, you unlock the power of motivation. It’s not hard to see how Fowler’s framework is much more actionable than traditional motivational techniques. Creating intrinsic motivation, especially for others, is a mug’s game, but defining choice, connection, and competence is much less ambiguous. If you have team members who you feel lack motivation, ask yourself if their jobs have these three essential traits. Do they have agency (choice) in their work? Do they generate meaning (connection) from what they do? Do they get a sense of accomplishment (competence) from doing something well? If you can’t answer all three of these in the affirmative, you can create a plan for increasing motivation that doesn’t involve empty metrics or meaningless rewards. If you or your team could use a proverbial kick in the pants, the solution might be to ignore those proverbs entirely. “Master Your Motivation” takes a refreshing look at what makes us strive for more. It’s a great addition to any leadership library. A Science-Based Approach to Achieving More SUSAN FOWLER’S ‘MASTER YOUR MOTIVATION’

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