Monday, July 25, 2016

Scaling As a Leader - Learning To Trust But Verify

As a leader, regardless of what industry you're in, mastering the skill of delegation is a must. You cannot scale as a leader unless you are able to delegate the ground work to others. Successful delegation requires a certain amount of trust. But blind trust is the enemy of successful delegation.

Successful delegation means being able to trust that the person you are delegating to is capable, competent, and willing to get the job done. The best way to ensure their success is to follow the trust but verify model. In this model, you follow up with the delegate periodically to determine if:

  1. The task is on track
  2. The delegate is looking around corners. i.e. identifying what's coming up that's not directly in their line of sight
  3. The known unknowns are being addressed
  4. The delegate is working to identify the unknown unknowns

One common problem with people trying to implement the trust but verify model is micromanagement. Here are some tips for practicing trust but verify and avoiding micromanagement.

it's okay for it not to be done your way

In most cases there are many ways to solve a problem. Yours may or may not be the best way. Giving your delegate room to figure this out is important. Your primary role in the trust but verify model is to make sure that they:

  1. Have thought through the problem and aren't just going off the cuff
  2. Aren't making irreversible or hard to reverse decisions
  3. Aren't falling behind schedule
  4. Are aware of the decisions they're making, specifically with regards to long term sacrifices for short term gains

focus on the outcome

When making sure that the person you've delegated to is thinking through the problem it's important to make sure your questions are focused on the outcome of the task and not on the approach. Remember, you're not solving the problem and therefore the approach may not be the same as if you were solving the problem.

Focusing on the outcome of the task makes sure that whatever the approach, the correct result is being achieved.

understand how to measure success

As you delegate tasks or projects to others you need to be clear about what the definition of done is. Additionally, you should talk with them about milestones that can be defined and achieved before the task or project is complete. Use these milestones to measure the success of the task or project. The best way I've found to do this type of measurement is to create SMART goals.

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