TZL 1374 (web)



Successful delegation

P ete, a seasoned project manager, has hit a wall. His to-do list has been getting longer. He’s tried to work longer hours to catch up, but it’s no use. Exhausted and alienated from his family, he doesn’t know how much longer he can continue. Delegation is a sign of a mature leader. It allows you to focus on how you can contribute at the highest level given your experience and wisdom.

His manager has told him if he wants to advance in his career, he needs to learn to delegate. A perfectionist by nature, Pete simply can’t let go of projects. He can’t trust others will do it to his satisfaction. It’s just more work to bring someone up to speed, and he just has to do it over to meet his expectations anyway. His world comes crashing down when his father dies. On the way to the funeral, he’s texting clients. His wife looks at him incredulously and says, “Really?” Pete responds, “I don’t have any other choice.” She says, “Yeah, you do.” He realizes she’s right. You’ve worked your entire career to be able to deliver at the highest level. Clients love you. You’re respected in the office. Younger people want to learn from you. And now you’ve been told that to grow as a leader, you need to delegate more. In other words, let go of your entire identity as an individual contributor and, instead, be responsible for someone else’s work product.

Delegating can make you feel like you’re letting people down: clients who are used to your level of detail and staff who are already burdened by their own work. To make yourself feel better, first accept the reality of what will happen if you don’t delegate: your team will not grow; you won’t be able to focus on higher-level work; and the firm will be paying you for something that someone else can do at a lower rate. Then make it clear to whom you are delegating why you shouldn’t do the task. It might start like this: “I need your help so I’m not working on design review and can spend more time on business development, so we can keep people employed.” Let’s break that down: “I need your help.” This is very different from telling someone they need to do something. It sets a friendlier tone that appeals to their better nature of wanting to be seen as helpful. (By the way, this

Leo MacLeod

See LEO MACLEOD, page 4


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