I recently observed a leader faced with complete turnover in his department. He was blindsided with the reality that he was now responsible for handling many of the day-to-day tasks that his team had been responsible for.
His problem: he didn’t know the basics.
His explanation for not knowing their jobs was that he had been blessed with a well-trained, professional and strong team that knew what they were doing. He had consciously chosen not to get in their way as to avoid the perception of micro-management and to allow his team the room to further grow in their jobs. Instead, he used that time to attend to other strategic efforts.
The downside? He was left holding the baton and didn’t know which way to run.
His intent was good. In the past he had been accused of micromanaging. From that experience he had learned the art of pulling back, pointing his people in the right direction and getting out of their way. To most that sounds like good leadership. But his mistake this time was swinging too far the other direction. Because of his choices, he experienced the negative effects of over-delegation. In his own words,
“I went too far. I should have known the basics and I didn’t.”
If you consider yourself a good delegator, stop and ask yourself, “Do I over-delegate?”
Read more about both the benefits and the dark side of delegating on my Lead Change Group post, Are Good Delegators Just Lazy?
For more on delegation from around the web:
- In Praise of Micromanagement (slashdot.org)
- Are You A Control-Freak Boss? Time To Delegate (businessinsider.com)
- Efficient laziness (icestat.wordpress.com)