Let Them Go & Watch Them Grow!

Trust is the number one characteristic of leaders. Without trust, people won’t follow you. Can you imagine buying products from a store or insurance from an agent you don't trust? Or hire a subcontractor who regularly uses less than specified materials to save money without approval? You're just not going to do it. Would you do repeat business with someone you didn’t trust regardless of price?

I remember when I was at one of our large construction jobsites. I walked up to one of our long time dedicated employee cleanup crew laborers and asked, "Why aren’t you using the wheelbarrow to get the job done faster?" He said, "My foreman wasn't here this morning. He never gives me the key to the tool storage bin. So I'm using my shovel to carry the trash all the way across the jobsite to the trash container." I was thinking: “Boy, this is not smart jobsite management! Why doesn't the foreman trust him with a key?"

People, who aren’t trusted, don’t go the extra mile, just go through the motions, and do the minimum. One of your jobs as a leader is to develop trust. Rather than doing the important jobs for your people, you can learn to let go and trust your people. In a Gallup survey poll, 66% of workers were asked to make decisions, but only 14% said they'd been empowered and trusted to make these decisions. A bad example of leadership is at hotels where there's a little card on the table that says, "For immediate response to any concern, complete this form and it will be addressed to the president of the hotel." The president's office is 2,000 miles away. He obviously doesn't trust his people to take care of customer’s needs. Put people in charge and give them the tools, responsibility, and authority. Then watch them go and make a HUGE difference.

Do You Solve Other People’s Problems?

Do people ever line up outside your office door waiting for you to solve their problems? Why? Maybe you have a sign around your neck - "I SOPP” (I Solve Other People's Problems). As a high school student my career aptitude test results showed I'm a person who likes to solve problems. But, when you solve other people's problems, guess what happens? They bring you more problems! People know when they make decisions, you will likely second-guess them, often overrule them, and won’t trust them to be as smart as you and make the same decision you would. So your people stop making decisions, stop being responsible, give you back full accountability, and continue to bring you more problems. People responsible for nothing are responsible for nothing. 99%responsible is the same as 0% responsible. Either you are responsible or you're not. You can't be partially responsible. You can't say, "Handle this, but check with me first." Trusting people is the key to improving their performance.

Please Handle This!

I have a rubber stamp I use when people give me a simple request for approval. It states, "Please handle this and don't tell me what you did!" Why? Because I don't want to know how they handled the problem they wanted me to solve for them. I have to trust them to use their best judgment and take care of it 100%. People will make mistakes. But, when you ask them to be 100% accountable and responsible, they’ll figure out how to do it right and make good careful decisions. If you continually answer their questions and do their job for them, they’re going to keep asking you for more help. I found out my employees make better decisions than me, if I let them.

Low Control = High Performance!

Leadership is not about being in charge and doing the work. It is about getting results through people. It is also not about being in control. Controlling people guarantees low performance. Leadership is about delegating, encouraging, coaching, letting go, and low control. Low control guarantees the highest performance from your people. The more you let go of, the more time you have to do what really matters. The more you coach, empower, and encourage, the more leadership opportunities you’ll have. People want to follow leaders who trust them and give out accountability and responsibility. So your role as a leader is less about what you do and more about what your people do.

Leaders inspire others to become the best they can be. Not tell, not do, but inspire. I've changed my role over the last 20 years, from a hands-on control freak; to an inspirer, encourager, motivator, and coach to get the results I want. And this now makes me real excited about coming to work. In my speaking presentations, I ask business owners on their handouts to draw a circle the size of a quarter. Then I ask them to write all the things in the circle they can't let go of. In my opinion, there's really nothing you can't delegate except vision, values, and setting clear goals and targets. Everything else can be delegated with enough staff and resources. Obviously smaller business owners and managers can't let go of everything, but they could delegate at least half of what they do right now, especially if they have a few people working for them.

Take the test.

Write out the few things you absolutely can’t delegate. And then list out the top twenty things you can let go of. Make a goal to delegate one item on the list every week. You’ll be amazed how excited your people will be to accept new responsibilities and become accountable. Then your job will be to watch them go and make a HUGE difference! For your copy of “BIZ-Builder Org Chart’ to develop responsibilities, email GH@HardhatPresentations.com.