With this guidance, you will be perfectly placed to successfully meet the challenge of being an effective leader and delegator says Sue France

We are all leaders whether we have the title or not. We lead ourselves, our bosses and our colleagues at some point, to some degree, and on most days.

Twitter, Facebook, the internet, and the breakdown of traditional hierarchical models have all contributed to changes in leadership. Progressive organisations need ‘bottom-up’ leadership fuelled by initiatives, new ideas and empowerment.

To be a leader you must have an honest understanding of who you are, what you know, and what you can do. It is the followers who determine if the leader is successful. If the followers do not trust their leader, or if they lack confidence in their leader, then they will be uninspired and unlikely to be influenced by them.

Everyone can demonstrate ‘leadership’, and you don’t have to have a title to be a leader; you simply have to believe in yourself. All leaders have to be able to communicate clearly in order for everyone to understand what the aims and objectives are. Clear communication will prevent misunderstanding, frustration and confusion, and it will encourage motivation and a proactive attitude for everyone to aim in the same direction.

Values and attitudes also play an important part in whether a leader is respected and followed or not. Leaders know what they value and recognize the importance of ethical behavior and demonstrate these every single day. You must know your organization’s values. A company can become publicly well known for their values when the entire workforce, at all levels, live and breathe the principles. For example, if a company ensures the values of honesty and integrity are used every day in everything they do, these can be seen by everyone by the fact that they keep promises, have personal accountability, and respect each other as well as the clients or customers. When every leader and employee in the company knows, understands and follows the values of the organisation, then it will be successful and so will the leaders.

Leading by Example

What is important is leading by example: it is what you do, not what you say, that demonstrates what you care about. You need to concentrate on how others may perceive you and develop the right image and appropriate behaviours so that others want to follow you.You should be the type of person who other people look up to and would aspire for you to be their mentor, so make sure you ‘walk the talk.’

If you are a ‘leader’, then you know that you have a responsibility to others. They look to you for guidance and strength; that’s part of what being a leader is. And a big part of your responsibility is to lead them with your own actions. When you lead by example, you create a picture of what is possible and you make it easy for others to follow you. People believe that if you can do something, then so can they.

The Art of Delegation

Common reactions when thinking about delegation are when you hear your inner voice saying:

‘I know it will be right if I do it myself;’

‘They will resent being asked;’

‘It will be quicker if I do it myself.’

However, the belief that you can do it better and faster with fewer mistakes leads to a lack of leadership skills and a vicious cycle of too little time and too much to do. Team members may feel disgruntled because you are keeping all the work to yourself and it may lead to inefficient and ineffective use of time, and even to a lot of unnecessary stress.

You need to make sure you are delegating effectively. Successful delegation takes time and energy to help team members succeed, develop and meet your expectations.

Top 10 Tips for Effective Delegation

  • Clarify your expectations. 
  • Identify constraints and boundaries.
  • Understand that you can delegate some responsibility, however you are ultimately accountable.
  • Provide adequate support, and be available to answer questions.
  • Establish and maintain control: discuss timelines, deadlines and agree on a schedule of checkpoints.
  • If you can’t delegate a whole task, make sure they understand the ‘bigger picture’.
  • Give clear and full instructions and don’t make assumptions.
  • Thank,and possibly reward them, for their successful completion of the task or project you delegated.
  • Talk openly about the consequences of missing deadlines and expectations.
  • Understand that delegating requires enough time and support from you so that everyone can be successful.

Delegation is a time management strategy that you must practice. When you learn to delegate effectively, you will be rewarded with more time and more empowered and satisfied team members. You may notice that who you delegate to may take longer than you to complete tasks at first. Use your coaching skills and be patient: if you have chosen the right person to delegate to, and you are delegating correctly, you will find that he or she quickly becomes competent and reliable.

You will find more information on leadership and many other topics such as negotiation, motivation, emotional intelligence, performance management, leading a team, effective coaching, and project management, including many free downloadable resources, in my book, The Definitive Executive Assistant & Managerial Handbook.

Sue France FCIPD/INLPTA is passionate about the development of all Assistants, having been one for over 30 years. She has owned her own training company since 2009 working in over 36 countries with thousands of assistants, both face-to-face and virtually ... (Read More)

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