People and Process, Part 2

Leaders make decisions and solve problems. These aspects of leadership operate in tandem. At whatever level a person makes decisions, they solve problems. To what the reach of influence a person’s leadership extends, their decision-making and problem-solving also extends.

Beware the leadership fumble that wishes to make decisions and hire or appoint others to solve problems. In reality, this style cannot represent leadership at all! It must be defined differently with another modifier. Consider the mess the universe would be in had Jesus decided to create what Father wanted but delegate problem-solving to someone else! He took responsibility to create and redeem at the same time. He was the Lamb sacrifice before the foundation of history.

Observe the leadership dysfunction that occurs when leaders delegate problem-solving but maintain decision-making. They are creating a way to feel involved or irreplaceable while diverting blame to other people for the mess their decisions make. This will certainly produce an opportunity to read and interpret “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Maintaining decision-making but delegating problem-solving will lead you to characterize the mess in fraudulent terms and demand that the subordinates sell the talking points.

Observe the inefficiencies that accompany leaders who design processes without the input of the people who they delegate to operate them. The conditions produced cause these people to roll their eyes and shake their heads with disgust because they know the processes won’t work and the people will get the blame.

This is really poor delegation because the leader “in charge” learns that delegation doesn’t really get rid of responsibility at all. In fact, delegation expands responsibility allowing leaders to expand their influence and deepen their impact. But, delegation requires a hand off of both decision-making and problem-solving, not one or the other, and the measuring stick for leadership success must include both aspects of leadership.

When you delegate authority in order to expand leadership, and the delegated representative of your leadership makes a mess, you must be there to support the people without taking over the process. If you discover they cannot clean up the mess, you must revisit the delegation of authority. If not, you are signing up for stress because you will end up expanding your workload instead of expanding your leadership.

On the one hand, avoid delegating problem-solving while attempting to maintain decision-making. On the other, do not allow those with delegated decision-making to leave you with the cleanup of their messes. Say, “I’ll be there to help you make decisions and solve problems, but your leadership requires you to do both.”

Of course, delegated authority experiences the apparent interruptions that occur when those who delegate appear to step in and involve themselves in making changes or micro-management. One is legitimate. The other is dysfunctional. Ultimately, micro-managers have a deception based upon fear: pride tells them they are indestructible and fear tells them they are indispensable. Building identity with what your leadership is a trap. When you delegate, you feel like you have lost something instead of gained something.

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