“Micromanaging” versus “trusting your people to do the job” by effective delegating.
Many leaders struggle with how much to get involved once they have delegated a specific task to their team. Too often, leaders make the mistake of thinking that because they’ve set a clear and strategic direction and communicated what needs to be done and why, that somehow it is magically going to be executed as planned. That’s a good one. Consider the following tips and tools on how to be a strategic micromanager:
–The standard of excellence is not negotiable. Mediocrity or the status quo should never be acceptable. Yes, leaders need to be patient with team members who lack the experience or expertise to execute at the highest level. Patience is a leadership virtue. But over time, if the leader has coached, gives feedback, coaches again, gives more feedback and is sufficiently patient—at a certain point strategic micromanaging is the only reasonable option, other than escorting that team member off the bus.
–Strategically micromanage external communication on behalf of your organization. Not doing so in a so-called “hands off” approach has the potential to have too many important things slip through the cracks. Of course, when the same team members consistently deliver an excellent work product, such strategic micromanaging must still be practiced but not to the same degree—moderation matters.
–Trust but verify. This has been my leadership philosophy for years. When leaders believe that they don’t need to take an assertive and more engaged approach, they pay a hefty price when projects fail. I know that there are flaws in every leadership approach, but I have had too many contractors that we’ve hired in our home to do renovations who haven’t done what they promised they were going to do by a certain time, not to mention falling short on quality.
–Get “in the weeds.” There is an important and critical role we must play in following up and following through on the details and yes, at times, getting “in the weeds” with team members. About what? About what exactly will be done (or not) by when, by whom, and then verifying exactly what progress had been made or not. In turn, leaders must then intervene and artfully confront, coach, support and challenge team members when performance falls short or issues of logistics arise.
–Take responsibility when things go wrong. When mistakes are made, it is the team leader’s job to take full responsibility. Call it “extreme ownership.” So, while never throwing anyone on the team under the bus with outside stakeholders, like any leader, I can get frustrated in that I trust that our people care deeply about their work and our mission, however I don’t always trust that their work is right or that they recognize that they don’t know what they don’t know. For leaders, saying “I trust” my people sounds great. But, I argue that trust, when it comes to performance and execution, is a more complicated reality.
–Don’t lose your cool. As leaders, we can’t overreact (which I have done on too many occasions). Things will go wrong, and you will find yourself often frustrated with the so-called “little things,” including situations in which team members (or consider the last contractor you hired to renovate your home) just don’t get it right, missed a deadline or sent out something with a typo under your signature. When this happens, as a leader, the key is to give clear direction, coach, provide feedback and reinforce that you are looking for excellence, not perfection, in your team member’s performance.
In this edition of Lessons in Leadership, Steve Adubato and Mary Gamba are joined by Bryan Price, Executive Director, Buccino Leadership Institute at Seton Hall University, who talks about the importance of teaching young adults leadership skills. Then, Steve talks to the late Governor Mario Cuomo in an interview he did with him in 2002 about what he believes to be the essence of powerful communication.