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News & Blogs: Rising Above the Middle

Delegating: Can you handle the truth?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015  
Posted by: Barbara Francella
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By Wendy Capland

"Not on my watch!” This famous line from the movie "A Few Good Men" is one of my favorite movie quotes. You may remember it was shouted by Jack Nicholson while he being interrogated on the witness stand by Tom Cruise.

The concept of accountability and delegation go hand in hand, and many of my clients have been talking a lot about both lately. Isn’t everything that happens on your watch your responsibility? And how do you make sure none of the balls are getting dropped?

I imagine you are over-the-top busy with what needs to get done in any given day, just like me and most, if not all, of my clients. There are many ways to lessen the stress of all this work and one good starting point is to start to delegate more.

Related: 10 essential skills to be a leader in demand

Yup, it’s quite simple. Take things off your plate and give it to someone else. Not just anything, but the right things. Delegating has its advantages: Your people learn to stretch their abilities and they gain exposure to higher levels of management and clients, and you reduce your workload a bit. It’s a win-win for everyone.

You should not be doing as much as you are. Many people think, "If I just do it myself it will get done right and faster. By the time I show someone else how to do it, I could have been finished and be on to something else." The problem with this thought process is that you continue to be the only one who can do this thing that you really should be delegating. And, by the way, you probably are not doing something great or making yourself indispensable. You may be spending your time on less important priorities. Really, you are wasting your time.

So how do you know if you are a culprit in this "I’ve got to do it myself" arena? Ask yourself these five questions:

  • What is the best use of me in this moment?
  • What do I have on my plate that would be great for me to get rid of and would be a learning opportunity for someone else?
  • What are my top three priorities this week/month/day and what other things are on my calendar that could go to someone else?
  • How much time have I blocked out on my calendar for strategic thinking and planning this week?
  • How many times a day do I answer questions and problem solve when I could be teaching those individuals to think for themselves?

Many of us need to learn how to let go without feeling like we are losing control or quality. The key is accountability. When we delegate, we are not just abdicating responsibility. We're still accountable for the results no matter who in our organization is actually doing the work.

Make sure to follow up on work you delegate to others, help set milestones to measure results and be clear about what results you want produced by what deadline. It's simple really. Just treat the projects you delegate like it's all yours, because really, it does all happen on your watch.

This great YouTube clip on Accountability is one of these best I've seen and it's only two minutes long. Surely, you have two minutes to add to your leadership accountability and delegation toolbox.

Wendy Capland, CEO and founder of Vision Quest Consulting, is a leadership development expert and author of  Your Next Bold Move for Women. For more than 20 years, she and her team of 45 coaches, trainers and consultants have developed the leadership skills and capabilities Fortune 500 and entrepreneurial executives. Her advice has been featured in numerous national publications and on radio and television.

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.

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