Delegation and empowerment are great tools in the toolbox of every leader. If you are not sure what is the difference feel free to check out this article: “Don’t manage. Empower!”. However, there is one thing that should never be delegated if you really want to lead others – and that is the leading itself. Every leader should spend big portion of his or her time building the team, coaching, mentoring and developing the team members to become leaders, safeguarding the company culture and sharing a vision.
Build the team
Getting the right people on board is one of the crucial parts of success. If you want the team to perform better than competitors, if you want them to grow and scale the business you need to ensure they want to do that and they are capable of doing it. And not just that, you need to ensure they do it the right way and work as a team. For that you need to hire the right team. As a leader you need to lead the way and enable your team to hire right. You need to be the one who is hands-on involved in recruitment process and in developing your interviewing team so they understand what to look for and who to hire. You should never completely disengage from the process and even when eventually you delegate most of the responsibility to your team you still need to get involved regularly to continue to hone your own interviewing skills as well as ensuring that your hiring strategy doesn’t dilute as it gets delegated to newer and newer waves of your leaders. You can find more thoughts on how to build the right team in these posts: “Everyone is a recruiter” and “Getting the perfect hire”.
Develop the leaders
You hired the right team and that is a good start. But it doesn’t end here. You need to ensure your team understands what you are trying to build, you need to ensure your team has the means to achieve the goals and you need to ensure that the team scales as the company grows. The way to achieve all these things is to be hands-on coach and mentor. It is your responsibility to grow people in the team, it is your responsibility to provide feedback, mentoring and opportunities. As a leader you should never hide behind other people and delegate the responsibility for growing the next generation of leaders.
You should spend big portion of your time with your direct reports and help them get to the next level. Almost everyone has the potential to grow and if you selected someone to leadership position you probably saw in him or her some potential. If they are not growing and not getting to the next level it is your failure more than theirs.
And it is not just about direct reports. Let’s say you have a bright young employee fresh out of university who just joined your team. Yes, you can delegate responsibility for his professional development to one of the team leads but ultimately it is your organization and you are responsible for making sure you have the leadership bench strength when needed. Obviously, you cannot give the same attention to everyone so it is important you identify the next leaders in your team and then dedicate portion of your time to personally work with them and provide the guidance they need. And no, this is not micromanagement or not trusting your team leads, this is simply an additional channel to make the team grow faster.
Safeguard the culture
Culture is not dictated from top down, it is lived from bottom up. However, it can be heavily influenced and steered by the leaders. It is your responsibility as a leader to guide the team and help them to develop a culture that will align with company’s vision and goals. It is not about fancy slogans or presentations, it is about daily execution. You need to live the company values, you need to lead by example and you need to relentlessly look for and correct behavior that is not in line with corporate culture. If the team understands what the expected behavior is, if they are the right people that fit with that culture and if they see the leadership living the company’s values they will automatically adopt the culture, build it and live it.
Share the vision
This is obviously one of the key tasks. If your team doesn’t know where they are going they cannot get there. You as a leader need to have a vision for your team. And that doesn’t necessarily mean great vision for the whole company (unless you are CEO). It can be much more humble if you are running just a small team in a big organization. The vision for your team can be to grow, to get responsibility for more projects, to be able to grow people and build the next generation of leadership for your company, to act as a center of excellence and help other teams with specific knowledge, to provide great customer service, or to build good quality products on time while having fun. The only thing you need to ensure is that the vision you are giving to your team is in line with the global vision of the company. You always need to be able to show to each individual how his tasks align with the team goals and the company vision as that is the only way your team will understand how their work fits into the whole picture and why they are doing what they are doing.
Twitter type summary: “The one thing you should never delegate is providing vision, building, developing, and mentoring your team.”
What are your thoughts? Would you outsource the development of your team? Would there be other things that you would never delegate to others?