The demands of leadership continue to increase in pace and complexity. Leaders have to care about more things than ever before. If leaders delegated more they could cultivate greater trust, and increase both engagement and productivity. What can HR managers do to encourage leaders to delegate more?
Under the pressure of escalating demands, most leaders adopt a command-and-control style of leadership with their teams. They don’t delegate enough, they overwork and end up feeling overburdened. Teams disengage. Leaders and their teams end up producing less, while also jeopardising everyone’s wellbeing and increasing the risk of burn-out.
Leaders who put trust at the heart of their leadership take a different approach. Trusting leaders support and develop their people. They readily delegate work and responsibility. They do what they can to equip team members to do their best work. Not only does more and better-quality work get done, this also has the enormous benefit of relieving the pressure on leaders.
Delegation is a good proxy for trust. When leaders readily delegate work and responsibility to their team members they show them that they trust them.
Part of developing next generation leaders is to delegate, so leaders need to be flexible to give up status and power in the service of their team members, and this relies on high levels of trust.
HR managers have a key role to play in helping leaders to understand what delegation is, and to increase their confidence to delegate more frequently. HR also plays a key role in helping the organisation to take a learning rather than retributive approach to mistakes and challenges.
Delegate to grow trust
Trust has two main aspects. The first is a willingness to be open to someone else’s actions. The second is a positive expectation that the other person will not exploit the situation for him or herself.
Steps you can encourage leaders to take so that they have increased confidence to delegate more, and more often:
- Help leaders redefine their roles from expert to leader. Let their team members be the expert in situations that occur in their area of responsibility. If they put on a coaching cap, leaders keep responsibility with team members to manage their own issues and challenges.
- Help leaders change their focus to one of opportunity rather than mistakes. Set up a learning frame, and focus attention on the future, and what is possible, rather than on the past and what has already been done.
- Attune leaders to the impact of their power. When leaders use their power in a coercive way, they erode trust. By stepping back, they show trust by delegating responsibility back where it belongs. They offer guidance and support, rather than direction.
Through these steps, leaders’ mindsets shift. They can be more collaborative and generous when they focus on ‘how can we make this work?’ Many leaders feel that they must step in, particularly when there are problems and crises. These are some of the richest opportunities for people to learn, so if HR managers can encourage leaders to take a more open, coaching approach, to trust people to solve their own problems, they will be better equipped to avoid or respond adaptively to future problems.
When trust is high, engagement is high and more work gets done. Key messages that HR managers can promote to encourage leaders to delegate more and increase trust:
- Leaders who extend trust, grow trust. Many leaders wait for their team members to show they are trustworthy. However, where leaders trust first, team members are more likely to reciprocate.
- Leaders who delegate, grow trust. A fast-track way to grow trust is to delegate. Leaders should not wait to see trust before they delegate. Delegate pro-actively, and grow trust.
Have you read?
The 4 Core Skills Of Good Coaching by Dr. Karen Morley.
Why Leaders Should Create A Coaching Culture by Dr. Karen Morley.
The Most Powerful People In The World, 2018.
The 100 Most Influential People In History
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