Surrender Power and Invest in Others

Understanding the nature of authentic, effective authority and power is inherent in empowering a team and practicing effective delegation. True power involves leading through character, example, and intellectual challenge. Personal power is strengthened and multiplies through surrendering it and investing it in others.

The most successful, powerful leaders respect their people and their potential and liberate them to do what they do best, in their own way. This approach is difficult for those who have been conditioned to believe that effective action is accomplished by a group of people acting in a clone-like manner — behaving just as the leader would — rather than as individuals. Leaders who excessively control people destroy opportunities, along with one of the most important assets of team members: self-confidence.

Use the following ideas to develop appropriate attitudes for delegation effectiveness:

  • Flexibility. Delegation must be accompanied by flexibility. Allow people to test new ideas, and you will enjoy the rewards of unexpected, innovative results. When you adopt a flexible, adaptive attitude, delegation motivates and encourages others to take responsibility for thinking creatively about how and why they follow certain procedures. A flexible work environment enables workers to eliminate unnecessary steps – one of the most effective strategies for increasing productivity – and spend time only on activities that add value for the customer.
  •  Self-confidence. Self-confidence gives you the freedom to share necessary information and resources to empower others through delegation. Self-confidence frees you to expect your team members to perform as well or better than you. One common reason leaders withhold authority and responsibility from other team members is the fear of being replaced or unneeded. This attitude sacrifices progress of the whole group. A manager who has a deep need for personal power and the dependence of others often expects or demands unquestioning obedience— an expectation fatal to effective teamwork and maximum productivity. When you refuse to control others, you become an indispensable profit and productivity center. To free your time for the highest productivity, look for appropriate opportunities to delegate. Find contributions you can make that no one else has the ability to perform. Delegate the rest. A person consumed with the passion for finding new, creative, measurable ways to contribute to the organization will always be a vital, valuable team member.
  •  Focus on results. Develop consistent thought habits of believing that others are competent, intelligent, and capable of achievement. Believe that “different” is not necessarily undesirable. People to whom you delegate tasks are unlikely to use the methods you would, but their work is not necessarily inferior. Judge results rather than methods when you delegate. Some people are conditioned to believe that their work and that of their people is valuable only if it is “perfect.” Perfectionistic people inevitably short-circuit teamwork by operating from fear that the outcome of surrendering control reflects badly on the group or themselves. With these often unreasonable expectations, they hinder their own performance and quench much of the creativity and enthusiasm of other team members. Set appropriate standards of excellence for yourself and your team members. Pursue excellence rather than perfection.
  •  Team commitment. True heroes are team members who earn respect, involvement, and results through behind-the- scenes, consistent dedication to group goals. Taking credit for the work of others, not listening to their ideas, working solo – these are all symptoms of a mistaken belief that effective leaders must always be unquestionably in control to command and inspire results from others. Release control of the activities you delegate to others. Constantly eliminate activities that minimize, undermine, or second-guess the work of other team members. To teach others how to make good decisions, involve team members in the process of making decisions. Permit others to make as many decisions for themselves as possible. Commit yourself to team empowerment and allow others to succeed and excel.
Leadership Management® Institute
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.

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