Developing the next generation of leaders who can create leadership at every level in the organization are the intangibles that lead to tangible results. Colin Powell referred to this in his Lessons in Leadership when he said, “Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.” Your greatest asset – the team. So it stands to reason that attracting and keeping the best people through developing them for greater responsibilities can lead to greater success. Appropriately utilizing the team involves delegating to others on the team.
Let me suggest that it’s not always the highest ranking person who should lead a team to success. It can be anyone on the team who can out-perform, out-lead, out-succeed the highest-ranking person. Why would I suggest that?
- Another person can often bring to our attention front line challenges faced day-to- day and therefore, can often provide better leadership/guidance surrounding those issues than those higher up. Similar to a pyramid that narrows at the top, our thinking also tends to narrow the higher up we move on the corporate ladder, when we are one or two layers removed from the field. Therefore someone still in the field might have a better “handle” on what needs to be done to move forward more efficiently and effectively.
- As leaders it’s our responsibility to grow and develop others and to expand bench strength and depth on the team. Bench strength is developed when someone in the trenches, on the front lines, takes on a new responsibility. Former Coach John Madden would say, “games are won or lost in the trenches where reality takes place every day, fighting side by side on the field.”
- When we delegate to someone who has a desire to grow, that person will bring commitment to the team and gain support from others on team, because “one of their own” is leading the charge.
- If the only person leading is the highest ranking person, a political tone/agenda is set. Many team members are unwilling to go up against that agenda. Whereas if one of our own is leading, there is more freedom to challenge, question and make suggestions.
- We hire individuals based on their expertise, but often their skills go untapped. Perhaps someone else on the team has the skillset to accomplish a particular task more proficiently than the lead person.
- Managers may not have enough time to devote to a particular task, whereas someone else in the organization may be in a place to take on the additional responsibility.
There are numerous other reasons that we can add to this list as to why delegating the leadership role to someone else on the team could lead to greater success. However, I think the point is clear there are appropriate times to trust the team with increased responsibility, ultimately leading to enhancing your greatest asset – the team – resulting in greater tangible results.
One of my favorite quotes is, “It’s not what you know as a leader, but rather how you process or use what others know.” -anonymous