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11 Steps to Being a Leader-Delegator in this Crazy World

Recently I spoke at a Project Management Institute event on “Time Management and Productivity through Delegation”. We could have called the speech; Being a Leader-Delegator in this Crazy World. I think that is what is being asked of professionals anyway.

During the presentation, I clearly stated that I believed that time management is dead. It has been taken out by that which was to make us more efficient – communication technology advancement. 

We have too many time and productivity invaders in our lives, as we are constantly bombarded by our connections, linkages, and need to know what is happening right now. Click and our focus has gone in a new direction. Down the rabbit hole we go. So, if time management is dead then what has to take its place? The choice is obviously discipline, self-discipline!

As a word that often causes personal discomfort, self-discipline appears in various forms, such as perseverance, restraint, endurance, thinking before acting, finishing what you started, and as the ability to carry out one’s decisions and plans, in spite of inconvenience, hardships or obstacles.

This is a heck of a definition for the leader-delegator to live up to. It means that you must embrace at least the following 11 items to be successful. 

  1. Take a candid look at who you are and get clear on your strengths and weaknesses. In doing so, you quickly need to learn to leverage your strengths and delegate your weaknesses. This is not always easy to do as it is a leadership skill that you need to develop.
  2. Recognize that the only things you can manage are activities and tasks. This means you need to know where you spend your time. A time audit will help you find the inefficiencies and understand that doing a task does not mean it’s important. 
  3. Use a productivity matrix to determine what is urgent but not important for you to be doing. This does mean that it is important for someone else to be doing. Those items you can let go and delegate. This is an important concept for the leader-delegator to master. 
  4. Embrace productive thinking model as a basis for better delegation. This means you will need to think better through asking key questions. 
  5. School your team in being a team. In today’s business community, the only way to survive is to behave like a school of fish that comes together to protect itself. Great leaders know this simple principle. That there are just too many stakeholders wanting to feed on your time. The stronger your team, the better you all survive. 
  6. Know the productivity cycle of your team and the individuals on it. Everyone has a productivity cycle that flows throughout the day. Leverage that cycle with things that matter so your teams will create better solutions. 
  7. Do not take on anyone else’s monkey (issues). Someone will always want to give you their monkey. You meet this person in the hallway. They tell you their story. You look at your watch and notice you are now 15 minutes late for your meeting. They end the discussion with, “I am glad you will look into this for me”. They feel relieved. Just like that, you own their monkey. That is, you own their issue. Your job is to give that monkey right back. Good leader-delegators learn this skill. 
  8. Create a delegation plan. You need one to survive. I use a standard matrix. Initiatives across the top and common activities along the side. I place two names in every box. One is the primary, and the other is to be mentored by the primary. That way I always have a backup, and we are developing people. It is a simple matrix, but it works. 
  9. Create remind yourself notes to not do something. Put your name on it at the top, write the note and sign it. For example, Brad – Don’t do this yourself! – Signed Brad. If you create reminders for the things you should do, then you can create reminders for the things you shouldn’t do. 
  10. Build your delegation coaching skills. It is imperative for building teams as a leader and surviving the delegation negotiation cycle that you will experience as you commit to releasing yourself of unimportant items that are important for other people to be oing. See point number three.
  11. Learn the ten levels of delegation that you can use and apply to the people around you. The levels of delegation free you from trying to figure it out yourself. Through a simple process, you can identify what needs to be done and assign the activity or task appropriately.

There is a lot for the leader-delegator to master in our world. Time management hasn’t changed much over the decades, but the skills to survive and thrive have. The place to start is to be a master of you, making productive choices and then building the skills needed to be a leader-delegator.

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