Tye, foreman for a Northwest piping contractor, told session 6B of the Leadership Development Lab,
“I have been working with my pipe layer James for about a year and a half. I have always been a very goal-oriented foreman and really try to push the envelope of production. I used to breathe down the guys’ necks and always push for more out of them. I told myself a few weeks ago that I was going to start to relax more and began to encourage my crew to start thinking for themselves a little more.
“I started to really focus on James by giving him compliments when he did a good job on a task. I made the task clear by telling him what I wanted done and what I thought the end result should look like. He began to just figure out the best way he saw fit to achieve it and not ask me how I wanted him to do it. He has been much more active in taking the initiative, taking the lead, and I can see he has been having a lot more fun on the job. “The lesson I learned from this experience is that I don’t always have to be the one who makes decisions on all the details of how we should do something. My way is not the only way.
“The action I call you to take is tell the people you are working with how proud you are of them; tell them what the end product must look like and trust them to make good decisions without you breathing down their necks.
“The benefit you will gain is a stronger, more productive crew that has a tremendous feeling of pride and shows it.”
Delegating responsibilities is an important part of being a leader. It can be hard! Our egos and fears can get in the way. Delegating correctly is a bit like letting go of the bike seat when you’re teaching a child to ride a bike. You know a crash might be just around the corner. What if we insisted on holding onto the seat every time our kids wanted to ride? We have to risk letting them crash so that they can really go places, and get there faster than we can ever run!
Of course, you need to train team members to do the tasks you want to delegate. No one wants to be handed a task for which they’re not equipped. So train well, and then let go. If you haven’t given a person enough room to fail, you haven’t fully delegated. They are not fully empowered. If you think you’re the only one who can do it right, that your way is the only way, you’ll fail to properly delegate. Instead of an engaged team, focused on the goals of the organization, you’ll have a bunch of individuals focused on salvaging their self-respect.