Counterintuitively, becoming a strong leader requires you to do less, writes Jesse Sostrin, author and director of PwC‘s Coaching Center for Excellence, for Harvard Business Review.
Some managers fall into a trap of getting overly involved with their team’s projects—they may even pride themselves on their willingness to “roll up their sleeves” and help out with the work. But as the scope of your responsibility expands, the demands on your time are going to catch up with you, he warns.
Other managers struggle to set limits on their time and prioritize projects. Instead of saying “yes” to everything, Sostrin recommends practicing two additional responses: “yes, if…” and “no.” He recommends giving an unequivocal “yes” only to those projects that give you an opportunity to use your best skills in the ways your organization values most. For other projects, consider limiting your direct involvement with a “yes if…” or a “no.”
In either situation, you’ll eventually find that, to become an excellent leader, you’re going to have to become an excellent delegator, argues Sostrin.
In his article, Sostrin provides several strategies for improving your delegation skills. Among them, he recommends three topics that you should include in all of your delegating conversations. The three topics are:
First, explain: Why you’re delegating this project. Take time to explain the context: why the project matters, what’s at stake, and how it presents a unique opportunity for that person. This conversation can help your employee feel more engaged and motivated to succeed at the project.
Next, explain: Your expectations. Outline what you want your employee to do and your desired deadline. This is a good time to confirm that the employee feels confident he or she can complete the project on time or discuss time management strategies if not, notes Sostrin.
If you want the project done a certain way or have a very specific outcome in mind, make sure you share those expectations with your employee. You can also ask the employee to repeat the expectations back to you to confirm that you’re both on the same page.
Finally, agree on: Your level of involvement. Reach an agreement with your employee about how often you’ll check in about progress on the project. You don’t want to micromanage, but you also don’t want to miss a critical opportunity to provide encouragement—or a course correction (Sostrin, Harvard Business Review, 10/10/17).