Let Go Of The Leash
"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." Theodore Roosevelt
"It's not the tools you have faith in - tools are just tools - they work or they don't work. It's the people you have faith in or not." Steve Jobs, Apple
Why is it so hard for top managers and executives to effectively delegate? I know many people who have excellent teams, but they still insist on reviewing every document and personally becoming involved in every decision! To the extent they delegate, it is through a complex web of rules and processes that often seem designed to thwart progress rather than for governance sake.
I have seen this in both the public and private sector. I recall reading the introduction to a “Dilbert”® book written by Scott Adams, and he said (I am paraphrasing) that he writes about a corporate world with demons, trolls, inept management and terrible co-workers. However, no matter how awful he tries to make it, people from all walks of life tell him “that’s just like my office”!
I wrote a couple of more technical posts on leadership and motivational theory, and if you are interested you can look them up here: www.projectmanagementforum.net.
Prepare for a jarring transition!
I have three dogs, and they are awesome pets. One of them is a very sweet rescue beagle, one is a golden/lab/wolf mix that is also a rescue, and the other is a beautiful pure-bred chocolate lab.
As you might expect, it is chaos when we go for a walk!
The lab must pull on the leash the entire time. I have tried every training tool I can find on the internet and can’t stop him from pulling. My training skills are no match for his enthusiasm!
I did buy one of those training collars that went around his nose, but it made him miserable and what kind of walk is that?
On one of my recent walks I dropped the leash and an amazing thing happened… he stopped!
I was stunned because his pulling would seem to indicate that he wanted to get away from me, but he just stood there and waited for me to pick up the leash! Fascinated, I dropped it again and the same thing happened!
So why was he pulling? Because that is the relationship we had established! I began to walk with him off the leash (where safe) and he stays right with me, obeys my commands and the walks are now a pleasure! I had assumed that he needed the leash when all it was doing was creating tension in our relationship. Now when he does have the wear the leash, he doesn’t pull!
That got me to thinking about my relationships, both in my public and professional life. How many of my relationships have unnecessary tension because I felt I had to “hold the leash”, (an obvious metaphor for control!) and how many people would gladly walk with me if I just gave them the chance?
I had a chance to practice this with my second oldest daughter when we were discussing her plans for the evening of her 21st birthday. Normally I would have viewed this as a “teachable moment”, but rather than try to control the conversation I approached it lightly and let her guide it to a very satisfying conclusion!
I have always been an excellent delegator, but this feels different.
I am working with a colleague of mine to develop new course material for the Sixth Edition of the PMBOK®. We are also developing a practice test database that will have thousands of questions (eventually expanding into other certifications offered by PMI®), and are going to publish a PMP® practice test book to be sold on Amazon. Tonight, I was reading Plan Risk Responses and came across a new risk response strategy. In addition to Avoid, Transfer, Mitigate (everyone’s favorite) and Accept, we now have Escalate! I need to think about that a bit, but I think it’s worthy of a future post.