Leadership Strategies – 10 Steps To Masterful Meetings

Patrick Lencioni- Author and Speaker

Patrick Lencioni- Author and Speaker

Diary cram-packed with meetings with no space in between to think, reflect or even breathe? An issue for many a leader.

How’s that working for you?

Do you return from meetings saying ‘that was a waste of time?’

You’re not alone.  Many people complain that the meetings they attend are like wading through treacle or herding cats.   They go on too long, the critical decisions are not made, some people are allowed to go off at tangents and other people don’t ‘speak their truth.’

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Here are my ten top tips for masterful meetings

(and, yes, they might be common sense – but are they common practice?)

1. Be clear on what type of meeting it is.  I love Lencioni’s thinking on the daily check in; weekly tactical, monthly strategic and quarterly offsite meetings .  Knowing the difference is key

2. Start and end on time – if people are late, start without them. It’s their problem, not yours. Make it one of your ground rules.

3. Allow a 10-15 minute check in if people don’t meet frequently.  How is everybody?

4. If it’s your meeting, engage people from the beginning.  Get them excited, energised… meetings don’t have to be dull

5. Agree simple ‘ways of working’ for your meetings – one person to talk at a time/no individual conversations/no emailing and texting during the meeting.  Make these explicit don’t just ‘expect’ people to know. They won’t.

6. Agree concrete actions steps, clear accountability and timescales.  No need for reams of meeting notes.  Who has time to read all that stuff.

7. Make sure all views are aired.  Great meetings have lively, healthy debate AND focus on outcomes and decision.

8. Please, please, please STOP ‘death by PowerPoint’ at meetings. Particularly those slides with reams of figures that we can’t read.

9. Know how much the meeting is costing you in terms of everybody’s time… is it value for money?  One organisation I worked with have a ‘taxi meter’ ticking away. Focuses the mind!

10. Stop rushing from one meeting to the next – have space to reflect and gather your thoughts

By the way, if you hold meetings where everybody goes round the table and shares what they’ve been focusing on for the last month…. STOP IT NOW! It’s tedious, time consuming and, frankly, a waste of everybody’s time. Find a better way to communicate. The daily 5-10 minute check-in might, may be just what you need.

But that’s just my opinion.

 

Till next time,

 

Lynn

She Drives Me Crazy!… Cue for a Song Or A Leadership Challenge?

difficult-relationships-lynn-scott

 

She Drives Me Crazy

(as the Fine Young Cannibals once sang)

Or he does…..

I’ve worked with three different people this week who’ve had what they all described as ‘tricky’ or ‘difficult’ working relationships with one of their colleagues.  There were a lot of similarities in what these three leaders described.

  • The ‘tricky colleagues’ are all described as competent peopleso it wasn’t about performance or results
  • The working relationships had felt challenging for a long time – so the situation wasn’t new

These relationships can feel hugely frustrating and what we really want is for the other person to change his or her behaviour.  Well, guess what……. They won’t.  Unless there is a compelling reason for them to do so.

leadership-coaching-the mirror

So what to do?

As is often the case, we first have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves ‘what is my part in this?’  How am I contributing to making this a difficult relationship?’

Here are five things you can do to get to grips with those tricky colleagues:

1. Get to know who or what pushes your hot buttons and triggers strong emotions in you – then ask yourself:  ‘what is it about me that makes this relationship difficult? What      might I need to change about myself (including my beliefs or assumptions) to get a better outcome with this person?

2. Who does this person remind you of?  If you’re not familiar with the term ‘transference’ I would describe it (in very simplistic terms!) as treating somebody as if they were somebody else (unconsciously).  So you behave with a senior colleague as if she were your mother, for example, because when you are with her, it feels like being with your mother!  You get the picture. I’ve had a few light bulb moments myself with transference.  Once I understand why I feel so strongly about somebody and who they remind me of it becomes a lot easier to build a better relationship with them as a unique human being!

3. First seek to understand – imagine what it is like to be in their shoes for a day.  What are their challenges? Frustrations? Fears? Hopes?

4. Work on developing your empathy – one of the best ways to do this is to use (metaphorically or literally!) what Stephen Covey calls The Talking Stick

5. Ask your colleague ‘what can we do to develop our working relationship’?  Are you getting what you need from me?’  Then LISTEN to the answers.  You might be surprised!

Vive la difference!

Till next time,

 

Lynne

Events

center_leader_400_clr_4274

Leadership Team Coach Training Programme

The Ultimate Team Coaching Solution

with Lynn Scott & Lois Burton

starts 5 March 2014

 

Would you love to coach leadership teams but not quite sure how or where to start?

Do you want to earn more by coaching leadership teams or add more value to your organisation if you are an internal coach?

Are you a bit unsure of the whole leadership team coaching process (there is one!) from start to finish? (Miss out any of the pieces of the jigsaw and you won’t be as effective as you could be)

Do you want a framework and lots of practical ideas for making leadership team coaching part of your offering to clients?

Are you struggling with how to sell or market yourself as a leadership team coach – either externally or inside your organisation?

Are you a bit worried about working with ‘challenging’ leadership teams and wondering how you will manage yourself, manage them and manage the process?!

Do you want to hone your working skills with leadership teams – courageously and with integrity?

Do you love the idea of a blended learning approach to team coaching? A mixture of live, virtual masterclasses and ‘Focus’ calls (all recorded) that you can access from wherever you happen to be as well as a challenging and experiential 3 day workshop (in June 2014) to help you hone and stretch your team coaching skills?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any or all of these questions, and you’re an experienced coach, the Ultimate Team Coaching Solution is the right leadership team coaching programme for you.

 

Here is what previous participants had to say….

 

“As an experienced coach I attended the course to gain an understanding of the team coaching process, but I got so much more.
A really practical course, where the tutors role model team coaching skills throughout and as a consequence really stretched and challenged
my own coaching skills.  More courses should be like this!”  Sue Featherstone, Independent Coach, Developing Success Ltd

“I am really thrilled to be on this programme; my experience of the programme so far is that it is enlightening, motivating, informative and through the experiential learning approach
that is embedded throughout it challenges me to up my game as a coach. I like the eclectic approach and in particular the fact that everything we talk about we personally
experience which is modelled by Lynn and Lois. They embody and model challenge and stretch which as a coach is vitally important in our development and in team coaching.
They are both very supportive and welcoming and the experience is very holistic. I am very pleased to recommend this program.”
Carole Swindells Associate Director of Learning and Organisational Development at Salford Royal Foundation Trust

For more details and price, including Early Bird price, download our brochure: Brochure January 2014 Lynn Scott

 

Email: pat@lynnscottcoaching.co.uk      telephone: 01729 548024

Your Leadership Mindset

Carol_Dweck

 

If you find yourself (or others) saying ‘that’s just the way I am’ or ‘it’s just my personality and I can’t change it’ you (or those others) have what Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck in her book Mindset calls a FIXED MINDSET.  Here’s what she says:

‘A fixed mindset comes from the belief that your qualities are carved in stone – who you are is who you are, period. Characteristics such as intelligence, personality, and creativity are fixed traits, rather than something that can be developed.’

leadership mindset

‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ is an expression that springs to mind, here. Or ‘I’ve never been any good at……..’ Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy!

What inspiring leaders want to cultivate is what Dweck calls A ‘growth mindset’With this mindset you believe that you can change things through effort, practice and experience.  So, yes, you can have leadership presence; yes, you can influence your senior team; yes, you can have a better work-life balance; yes, you can run effective, engaging and purposeful meetings; yes, you can deliver great presentations.   You can see where I’m going with this…..

One of the reasons that traditional training courses don’t always result in the desired changes is because they completely ignore mindset.

You’ve probably attended a few courses where you learn new theories, models, and frameworks – all very interesting and useful in many ways.  But, be honest, you’ve not really applied them back at work.

Or you’ve sent your team members on expensive leadership programmes which they enjoy but (frustratingly) their leadership capability doesn’t improve one iota.

assertiveness training

Or you’ve sent team members on assertiveness training – they learn a few phrases, they learn about body language, they learn ‘I’m OK, you’re OK’ but they are no more assertive than they were before. (Ask them about their beliefs, their drivers, their values, their biggest fears and you’ll start to get to the mindset behind the behaviour).

My favourite example of Focusing on the Wrong Thing is Time Management training.  Nothing wrong with it, per se.  But I know people who can spout every theory going about time management but still choose to let time manage them.  Why?

Because sometimes it’s easier to spend time doing ‘safe’ things rather than those in the ‘difficult’ box! (So reading emails is safer than having that difficult conversation).

sitting-on-the-fence

I know enough now about mindset to know when I need to change mine, get off the fence and stop making excuses.  And it can be very challenging.  I might procrastinate for a while. Because sometimes the fence can be a comfortable place to be – but it’s uncomfortable even painful after a while.

So here’s how to start cultivating a growth mindset.

Look at one belief you hold about yourself that is not serving you well.  (often starts with I should/I must/I ought…..)

Ask yourself ‘what effort, practice and experience do I need to change that mindset?’

Because you can teach an old dog new tricks!

And new tricks means more rewards!

Till next time

 

Lynn

Leadership Stories – Values in Action and The Tale of The Quirky Accountants

russell-smith

Last week, just after I’d posted my blog on Values  I met with my accountant Russell Smith   for our yearly review meeting and lunch (thanks Russell!).  Back in his office afterwards I met some new members of his team and he showed me the Values that were painted on the office wall (I loved this – part of the fabric of the building, not on a separate plaque or sheet of paper!)

calculators and statistk

The company values are these:

A. Innovate systems so that we never make the same mistake twice

  • B. Do whatever it takes so our clients become raving fans

C. Be passionate, fun and (sometimes) quirky* (now how many of you are surprised at that for a firm of accountants!)

D. Care for people’s happiness, fulfilment and well-being

E. Seize every moment as an opportunity to grow and learn so we always give our best

I love these values – they mean something. They are inspiring and yet grounded in reality.

Not like:

‘We aim to provide great customer service’

What does that mean?

Now, some of these values can be measured quantitatively (an occasional client survey, for example) but as Russell says ‘just because you can’t measure something it doesn’t mean it’s not important’.  A better question to ask is ‘what stories can we tell this month that show we have lived our values?’ No stories?  You’re in trouble!

Stories can be so much more powerful than data in bringing values to life.

lynn-scott-coaching

Never one to miss an opportunity, I asked Russell what guidance he would give to other teams or organisations looking to get real clarity on their own values.  Here are his top tips;

1. As a leader/business owner be clear on your own personal values first.  Write them down.  This helps you see if you really are living congruently according to your values.

2. Spend time with your immediate team getting real clarity on what your organisation (or your team) is really about (not what you aspire to be – what you are really like.) Russell’s team asked themselves:  ‘ What are we actually like? Is that good or bad’? For Russell, this was a two day exercise involving heart searching, honest conversations and really getting under the skin of who they were as individuals and as a team.

3. This one I love – spend time as a senior team living and breathing the chosen values before sharing them with the wider team.  The values have to really ‘hit the heart’ for everyone.  The senior team did this for six months before introducing them more widely across the organisation.

4. Values should be expressed in a sentence and five values is probably the maximum you need!

  • 5. If you do this purely as a marketing exercise you’re missing the point.

6. Once you’ve got your values in place, review them quarterly with each team member but also ask yourselves ‘how are we living these values as a team’?

Having values written down makes it much easier to:

  • Recruit the right people – they ABSOLUTELY MUST share the same values (even if they are technically brilliant, if they don’t share the values they won’t get hired)

 

*if you want to know how they are ‘sometimes quirky’ – Ask Russell www.rsaccountancy.co.uk but colour themes and cupcakes might give you a clue.

 

Till next time

 

Lynn

 

Leadership Coaching Tips – 6 Steps to Behaviour Change

old dog and a new trick

Can you teach an old dog new tricks*?  (For the answer, read on……)

I find that one of the reasons that people don’t always deliver on their promises, meet their goals, objectives, or KPIs is that even with good intentions and the best will in the world they know ‘what’ they need to work on or change but they don’t know ‘how’.

Let me explain.

Leaders often want their team members to ‘improve this; increase that; influence more effectively here; develop new ways of doing this or that’.….. and so on.  And, intellectually, team members ‘get it’

They get the ‘WHAT’.

But when the WHAT is about some kind of behaviour change, they can get stuck.

Because they don’t know where or HOW to start.

And it seems a bit overwhelming; scary even.

So to all leaders who find themselves in this position, wanting to help your team to make those behaviour changes these tips should help:

We’ll use a simple example of speaking up at a meeting

Firstly, you both need to agree that the behaviour change is necessary (and why)

1.Ask your team member how ready he is to make the necessary change – just because you’ve spoken about it and you both agree, it doesn’t mean he will make a start straight away.

2.Be clear on what YOU will be thinking, feeling, hearing, seeing if he makes the change (for example you might think that he clearly has something of value to say that is useful to the whole team; you will be hearing his ideas which can be very useful to the team’s thinking process; you will feel happy that he is making a really valid contribution and you will be seeing his team members feeling that he is contributing equally and taking part rather than sitting  back or ‘opting out’).

3. Ask him what HE will be thinking, feeling, hearing seeing if he makes the change – and possibly what others will make of it (e.g. his team members).

4. Ask him to share what he thinks the pros and cons of changing his behaviour might be.  This is important.   For example, the pros might be all of the points in (3) above.  But for him, at the moment, he doesn’t rock the boat/put his cards on the table/disagree with others by staying quiet – so he stays ‘safe’.  So, for him, changing behaviour potentially comes with some perceived risk. So what are the beliefs behind his current behaviour? These should provide some enlightening pointers.

5. How can you help him prepare for the behaviour change?  (What might he need to write down/think about in advance/ask somebody else/practise)?

6. What’s the first step he might take – this is key.  Maybe his first step will be to speak up once or ask one question at the next meeting.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

lynn scott coaching -leadership development

In my coaching work, I often ask clients to do experiments to help with behaviour change.  I once worked with a man who was extremely well respected in the organisation but who had this feedback from his colleagues:  ‘Nobody knows the real you ; you don’t share much of yourself; we’d love to see more of your personality – because we don’t know you, we can feel a bit wary of you’. 

This was not how he wanted to be perceived so behaviour change was the order of the day!

This was a man who was highly intelligent, professional and successful.  His belief was that board meetings and indeed work in general should be all about getting on with the job in hand and not what he called ‘small talk’.

This belief was not serving him well.

l

So we set up an experiment where he would make ‘small talk’ in the airline queue, on planes (he travelled a lot on business!), in the supermarket and so on.

We also agreed that he would find out two things about each of his board member colleagues that was non-work related –  in whatever way he felt was right for him.

Small steps.

But these experiments were totally transformational to the way he saw himself and the way others experienced him as a colleague and team member

He truly came out of his shell!

One of the most useful books I have read on the subject of behaviour change is Changing for Good .  The Stages of Change model outlined is a really useful indicator of the steps that we all go through when making changes (or not) in our lives, how change takes place and some of the reasons why we don’t change.

*Yes you can teach an old dog new tricks  – but like the ‘changing a lightbulb’ joke, the dog has to want to learn!

 

Till next time,

 

Lynn

Leadership Development – 3 Ways to Master Difficult Conversations

leadership-development coaching-difficult conversations

As I have been recently facilitating a number of leadership development coaching sessions I’ve been speaking to a lot of leaders  about ‘difficult’ conversations.    They are the conversations that:

(a)     You don’t know how or where to start

(b)    You’re worried about the outcome

(c)    You can’t quite find the words

(d)    You feel you’ve ‘messed up’ in the past

So you hope that if you avoid the conversation, the problem might go away. (A clue:  it won’t).

So ask yourself this:

What’s to be gained from having this conversation?

And

What could we potentially lose if we have this conversation?

This is clearly an area that a lot of us could get better at both at work and in our personal lives –   which is why there are so many books written on this  subject (Tough conversations; Crucial Conversations, Fierce conversations…. You name it, there’s a book!)

And I would say it’s a topic that comes up in some shape or form with most of the leaders and teams I work with and it’s been one of the most challenging areas of work for me personally.

Much as I hate to generalise or stereotype it’s something we Brits seem to be particularly poor at, for some reason.  When I work with other Europeans they often despair of our total inability to ‘say it as it is’.

lynn scott coac

So why do we find it so difficult?

The most common reasons are:

  • A strong need to be liked  (yep, that was mine!)

And/or

  • Fear of conflict (psychological or physical)

But where do those beliefs come from?  Often we’re brought up to believe:

  • I must be nice
  • I must be supportive
  • Don’t rock the boat
  • Don’t make personal remarks

You’ll have your own script.  And whilst these phrases might seem to serve us well some of the time, we have to ask:

In this situation, in what way is this belief serving me (or others) well?’

If the answer is ‘it’s not’ then there’s work to be done.

Here’s my story.  Wanting to be liked made me a great supportive coach.  But most leaders want to be challenged.  They want their thinking to be challenged, they want honest feedback about their impact and their blind spots; they want to be stretched to the edge of their comfort zone and beyond  and they want somebody to ‘say it as it is’ to them with what is sometimes beautifully described as ‘fearless compassion’.

So to be a better coach I had to get over my desire to be liked and focus on the need to ‘speak my truth’ to serve my clients and their organisations in the best possible way.

At first it was hard.

I took a lot of deep breaths before speaking.

At times, I screwed up, misread a situation, got the wrong end of the stick or was too focused on my own ‘stuff’ rather than the person in front of me.

But I believe it was Woody Allen who said ‘if you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative’.

So I keep on going!!

And that is where preparation is the key to making a good start.  Now, I’m not saying you should prepare a script but you do need to be clear on:

  • The purpose of the conversation
  • The  outcome you want as a result of the conversation
  • How long you need for the conversation
  • What will happen after the conversation (immediately after and in the longer term)
leadership conversations

Once you’re clear on that, I’ve found that one of the best things to do is to practise saying out loud the things you have written down.  You can do that with a friend, a colleague or a coach.  Or you can simply practise saying it out loud when you are driving, doing the washing up (well, that works for me!) or anywhere else.  There’s something about saying the words over and over again a few times which helps us become more comfortable with what we need to say.

difficult

So you’ve done your preparation and it’s time for The Conversation…..

Remember, it’s a two way street.

So you’ve done your preparation and practised out loud.  The two of you are in a room together

So start by:

  • Outlining your reasons for having the conversation
  • Explaining what is at stake
  • Sharing your thoughts and feelings on the issue (I think/I feel NOT you make me think/feel….)
  • Explaining that you are looking for a solution and mutual understanding

Then:

  • Ask for a response from the other person
  • SHUT UP AND LISTEN! And allow some silence for reflection
  • Explore options to help you move forward
  • Agree actions.

Like many things, the more we practise the easier these difficult conversations will become.  But if we do nothing….. well, you know the answer to that!

So here are the three ways to master difficult conversations:

  1. Understand your beliefs and where they come from (and decide if you need to ‘re-visit’ some of them if they are not serving you well)
  2. Prepare
  3. Practise

Once you do this a few times, you’ll find conversations become less difficult and easier to have ‘in the moment’.

Good luck!

Lynn

Who Are You And What Do You Stand For?

core values-lynn-scottValues are one of those things that can sometimes sound a bit ‘pink and fluffy’; often we associate them with a few nice words or phrases on a mission statement or corporate website. But what are Values and why are they so important?

I’ve learned that knowing and understanding our own core values – at work, at home, in relationships, is crucial.  Values reflect what is important to us.  They underpin how we live our life, how we view the world, what we tolerate in ourselves, the type of organisations we want to work for, our motivations and how we lead and like to be led.   And when people are unhappy, unfulfilled or angry at work I find more and more that it is because their own values are not in alignment with the organisational values (explicit or not), or their own leader’s values or they feel ‘out of sync’ with the rest of their team.

It just ‘feels’ wrong.

You can hire the most technically able and competent people in the world but if the cultural ‘fit’ is wrong, they’ll underperform or they won’t hang around.

A value is something you need – indeed MUST have –  in order to feel fulfilled. Now, most of us can draw up a list of things that are important to us but core values go deeper.  If you know what triggers a very strong emotion in you then it is highly likely that a core value has been touched.   Values and beliefs drive the decisions we make.

Courtesy of The Values Centre

Courtesy of The Values Center

Of course, values can be limiting as well as positive – and  in order to let go of our limiting values (blame and revenge for example) we need to understand and eliminate our fear-based beliefs.  To understand this more deeply I strongly recommend you take a look at the Barrett Seven Levels of Consciousness Model

But where do our core values come from?

They come from many places.  They are shaped by our upbringing; what we learned was acceptable or not when we were growing up.  They might change as we experience new things in the world or changing life conditions. Some of our values are cultural or historical. Some might change over time.  Some will stay with us and we will not change them, come what may, EVER.

So the first thing is to be clear on your own values.  Who are you and what do you stand for? How do you live those values on a daily basis? You can download a list of values here. Click here.

Here’s an exercise to get you started (it’s in three parts)

 

Part 1

Pen-and-Paper

Freefall writing –  You write without censoring yourself; letting your thoughts and feelings tumble onto the page.  (For some reason this works better if you write by hand….)Go somewhere quiet where you will be undisturbed for 20 minutes or so.  On a blank sheet of paper just write whatever comes to mind starting with:

A time when I was totally fulfilled, at my best was when…….

 

And the feelings associated with that time are……….

 

Then look at the values list (attached) Click here and highlight the words which were totally present for you at that time.

Part 2

Fill out the missing words in these two sentences:

If I don’t have  xxxxxx in my life, I am unhappy, unfulfilled and miserable.

 

When I have xxxx I feel totally at one with myself, at peace with the world and personally fulfilled.

 

Look at that values list again (attached) and highlight any more key words.

 

I find that most people have 10-15 words highlighted by this time.  Can you narrow it down to your top five?  Or three?

Part 3

beliefs-lynn-scott-coaching

Write down your top five (or three) values.

What beliefs do you have behind each value?

What behaviour do you demonstrate that relates to each value and belief?

For example if you have ‘honesty’ as a value, your belief might be that ‘honesty is the best policy.’  How do you demonstrate honesty in your daily life?  How would your team know that this is a strong value for you?  Or your friends or family?

Now what?

Once you’ve done this for yourself it’s a great exercise to share with your own teams.  And you can build on the value words to make them ‘come alive’.  So let’s imagine everybody in the team had ‘integrity’ as a value…… what specifically does that mean to your team? How do you make that value come alive?  How do you demonstrably live that value?  How would others know that you were living that value?

I’ve only touched the surface here and if you want to read more on values, my favourite resources are here: www.valuescentre.com

 

Till next time,

Lynn

4 Little Known Habits To Get Focused

leadership skills-focus

A topical subject when it comes to leadership development. Lack of focus – meant I didn’t get any newsletters out following the very successful one earlier this year on Dialogue for, literally months. ‘Newsletters’ went on the bottom of the ‘to do’ list; not urgent; not enough time…… didn’t know where to start etc…… Sound familiar? Notice I’m not using ‘lack of time’ as an excuse. I am TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE for how I CHOOSE to spend my time. It happens to leaders everywhere and focus is a leadership skill we all need to consider.

MORE >

Leadership Development And Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith is one of my favourite writers on leadership. Straightfoward, practical and no BS.

Lynn-scott

If you don’t have time to read the full article now, make a note of his delegation questions and use them with your team members in your next 1-1. His questions are:-

  • Are there cases where you believe that I get too involved and can let go more?
  • Are there cases when I need to get more involved and give you some more help?
  • Do you ever see me working on tasks that someone at my level doesn’t need to do? Are there areas where I can help other people grow and develop, and give myself more time to focus on strategy and long-term planning?

Read Marshall’s full article here:

When C-level executives are asked what change they could make to become a more effective leader, one of the most common answers is, “I need to delegate more!”

My caution to these executives is always the same: Don’t delegate more. Delegate more effectively.

Delegation is not a quality like “demonstrating integrity” or “complying with the law.” Honest, ethical and legal behavior is always appropriate – delegation isn’t. Inappropriate delegation can do more harm than good.

I saw an extreme example of the “empowerment is good” flaw in one of America’s largest companies. The CEO naively believed that his employees would always rise to the occasion and see the value of their learning through mistakes they made. He eventually promoted people to levels that were far beyond their capabilities. These people were not ready for the challenge. Perhaps they could learn from their mistakes when the mistakes cost thousands of dollars, but the company went bankrupt when the mistakes cost billions.

When feedback from direct reports indicates that a manager needs to delegate more effectively, the dissatisfaction could come from one of two causes: The direct reports may feel that their leader is micro-managing or getting overly involved with subordinates, or the direct reports may not feel micro-managed at all, but see their leader engaged in tasks that could be done effectively by someone at a lower level in the company.

Marshall-Goldsmith-Lynn-Scott

Courtesy of Marshall Goldsmith

To help leaders ensure effective delegation, my advice is simple:

Have each direct report list her or his key areas of responsibility. Schedule one-on-one sessions with each person. Review each area of responsibility and ask, “Are there cases where you believe that I get too involved and can let go more? Are there cases when I need to get more involved and give you some more help?” When leaders go through this exercise, they almost always find that in some cases, more delegation is wanted, and in others it is not. In fact, more help is needed.

Ask each direct report, “Do you ever see me working on tasks that someone at my level doesn’t need to do? Are there areas where I can help other people grow and develop, and give myself more time to focus on strategy and long-term planning?” Almost invariably, direct reports will come up with great suggestions. For example, for several of my C-level clients, team management has emerged as an area where letting go can both free up executive time and help develop direct reports. Too many top executives feel a need to schedule team meetings and then act as traffic cop during the meeting to ensure that the time schedules are met and that agendas are completed. This meeting management task can usually be delegated on a rotating basis to direct reports. This helps direct reports understand the agendas of the peer team members and allows them to develop their skills in building collaboration and reaching consensus.

In one example, a CEO was frequently traveling. He would not schedule any team meeting when he was on the road and was falling behind on some important projects. A team member suggested that he did not have to be present at every meeting and that the team could still get a lot done without him in the room. He was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Decisions that involved cross-divisional cooperation were made effectively without involving him. Another advantage was that his direct reports were getting on-the-job training that could help them take on larger responsibilities in the future.

On the other side of the coin, a division president learned that his employees consistently wanted more direction on one key topic. The company was operating in a rapidly changing environment. His direct reports didn’t need to be told what to do or how to do it in terms of technical details. They needed to know how their work was fitting into the larger strategy of the corporation and how their efforts were aligned with their peers both in the division and across the company. By establishing regular bi-monthly check-in meetings with each person, the president was able to increase the effectiveness of the team and help them build better relationships across the company.

What are your next steps? When are you getting too involved? When do you need to get more involved?

Ask yourself these tough questions. Then ask the people who are working with you. The answers may save your time and increase your team’s effectiveness.

 

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Dr. Marshall Goldsmith was recently named winner of the Thinkers50 Leadership Award (sponsored by Harvard Business Review) as the world’s most influential leadership thinker. Along with being recognized as the #1 leadership thinker, Marshall was listed as the #7 greatest business thinker in the world. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There was the #2 bestseller on the INC Magazine / CEO Read list of business bestsellers for 2011. This is the fifth year in a row that What Got You Here Won’t Get You There was in the top ten. MOJO was listed at #19. This is the second year in a row that it has been in the top twenty.