Friday, February 25, 2011

Delegation for Leaders

Back in 2005, when Pope John Paul II was dying, the Reuters headline said: "Sick Pope Delegates Nearly All Easter Duties to Aides." He could rest easy because his staffers were fully prepared to step in and perform all the required duties associated with the high holy days.

How about you? Are you comfortable delegating? If you are an executive, you'd better be. Here's why:

1. Delegation is a time management practice that lets you get tasks off your plate so that you can make time to do other things. What things? Things of high value to you and your business. Things like meeting with customers. Meeting with investors. Meeting with thought leaders. And thinking about the future.

2. Delegation is a people development practice that challenges and expands your staff, thrusting them into their discomfort zone, prompting them to learn new skills, and causing them to discover more of what they are capable of doing.

3. Delegation is the pathway to succession by incrementally building the capacity in your staff to step into your shoes someday. Just as the pope did.

So how do you do it? The process can be broken down into four steps:

- Identify the tasks to delegate. What tasks can you delegate? Much more than you might think. If the task must be done by You personally, it's yours. Other than that, it's potentially delegatable.

- Identify the person best suited to the task. Who should you delegate the task to? Ask yourself questions such as, Does this person have the skills, the interest, the time for this task?

- Delegate the task to the person. How do you hand off the task to the person you've selected? In a word, communication. Meet with the person to go over the task you want to delegate.

- Follow up and assess. Delegation is not abdication. Rather, follow up and see how the person is doing. Step in and help as needed. Evaluate the success, or failure, of the delegation and learn from it.

Simple yes. But easy? No. The process can break down at any step. Why does delegation go off the rails sometimes? There are many reasons, but often the root cause is with You:

~ You like doing the task. So why should you give it up?

~ You want the task done "right" (i.e., the way You do it...and no one else does it like you do).

~ You won't delegate something to a member of your team that you haven't first done yourself.

~ You won't let go.

While these reasons are understandable, they are not sustainable. Staying in your comfort zone isn't leadership. Holding on to your (in)security blanket, isn't leadership. Not developing the people that work for you is starving the capability your business needs to innovate and compete. If you stay this course, it can kill your company.

The bottom line is, You cannot do it all yourself. Delegation is a must.

Yes, there is risk associated with delegation. Letting go means trusting.

What's keeping you from delegating?

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Friday February 25, 2011. If you'd like some help with delegation or other aspects of management, contact Terry and invite him to your organization.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are You Ready for Your 3rd Act?

I'm delighted to welcome Bev Scott as my first guest blogger of 2011. Consultant, author, and coach, Bev has been one of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of Organization Development. A few years ago, Bev (and her collaborator Patricia Cavanaugh) started a new business venture called The 3rd Act, focused on helping people who want to take control of the third phase of their lives. Huge thanks to Bev for writing the piece below especially for this blog. I hope you enjoy the read. Bev and I would be thrilled to hear from you about your experiences making the transition into your 3rd Act. With great pleasure, here is Bev.

Ready for The 3rd Act?
By Bev Scott
For many today, retirement is passé. This is true not only because of financial need but also because the traditional notion of retirement fits with a worn out notion of aging that conceives of it primarily in terms of disengagement and decline. The news reports that “old” is being redefined as more of us are living to be over 100. A number of people over 75 are in the workforce. So, today we ask, how appropriate is retirement for a vital person with 30-40 years left to live?

At mid-life, we are living lives that most of our parents and grandparents didn’t have and, perhaps, couldn’t imagine. We are entering a period of life that is virtually uncharted, a time in which we are free from social expectations and reduced family obligations, with the freedom, resources and desire to engage in new activities with meaning and purpose. Science and medical advances have extended our years with generally better health than previous generations. This stage gives us the opportunity to turn our dreams into realities, to consider options previously considered impractical, and to prioritize how we want to spend our time. Now, it’s up to us to decide and plan for our continued vitality including paid or unpaid work.

We use the metaphor of the theater to ignite people’s imagination. Our growing up years constitute the first act, our second act includes our middle years focusing on career and family, and our third act (often for the first time) is ours to choose – we have an opportunity to create a better quality of life, leave a legacy or pursue our life-long dreams.

Studies show that if we plan for those years, traditionally called “retirement” and what we call The 3rd Act, we will be happier, healthier and less stressed. If we plan, even if the plans change, we have a direction and structure from which to make adjustments. Such planning is more than financial planning. It is a plan developed out of intention and commitment. It is a plan that includes:

- a mission to use our signature strengths to serve a larger purpose than ourselves;
- activities, interests and pursuits that keep us actively engaged with our families, communities, favored organizations as well as potential full or part-time work;
- daily routines, habits and actions that warm our hearts and bring a smile to our faces;
- and, it includes attitudes which support experiencing the present moment with interest and curiosity, looking back with contentment and gratitude and looking ahead with optimism and seeing its potential.

We have developed a website as a resource to support planning for the 3rd act with a monthly newsletter/blog, links and recommendations. We recently posted a new 3rd Act E-Workbook to help individuals design and plan their 3rd acts.

We would love to hear from you about your experience and your thoughts about The 3rd Act.

About Bev
Bev Scott has served as an internal organization and management consultant, taught organizational psychology and established an external consulting practice. She recently completed the second edition of Consulting on the Inside co-authored with Kim Barnes. She is the founder and creator of The 3rd Act whose mission is to support positive aging. Bev is currently in her own 3rd act and has enjoyed creating and writing the script.

Bev can be reached at:

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Tuesday February 22, 2011.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

You ARE In Sales!

Ever get pumped up by a motivational speaker? That's how I am feeling right now after hearing (and experiencing) a talk this morning given by master salesman Joe Himelfarb. He gave a presentation to job seekers and career changers at the St. Matthias Employment Ministry in Somerset, NJ, on the secrets of selling yourself in a job search campaign.

Here are a few of the nuggets of wisdom that Joe shared with us:

- It's NOT about You: Successful salespeople know that selling is all about the customer. What is their business? What are they trying to achieve? What's getting in their way? So a job search is about the employer, not you. The question is: How can you help them?

- It's NOT about Getting a Job: Yes, if you are out of work, you need a job. But don't approach it desperate and groveling, hat in hand. Rather, know your value! Research your accomplishments and identify your value proposition. Believe in yourself. Successful salespeople know this: If you are sold, you can sell. You must be sold on your product, and the product is You.

- When they say "No," You say Next: Don't collapse when you get turned down. Salespeople take rejection in stride. Keep on moving. There is a job out there for you. Don't give up. It will take a lot of No's to get to the Yes you are after.

Additionally, Joe says:

- Attitude is key: Success in life is a combination of skills and attitude. The most successful salespeople know that selling is 80% attitude and 20% skills. Make no mistake: Employers want to hire people who are honest, positive, energetic, determined and friendly, as well as able to solve problems.

- Focus your search: Write an ad for the job you would most like to have. And go for it!

In our four years of serving the unemployed, as well as those dissatisfied with their jobs, we have had some great guest speakers, including Absolutely Abby, Donna Coulson, and Kenny Moore. I can now add Joe Himelfarb to that esteemed list.

Thank you, Joe. Keep on selling!

Posted by Terrence Seamon on February 12, 2011. For more ideas on job search, contact Terry and invite him to speak to your group.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Transitioning from Manager to Engaging Leader

Legendary CEO Jack Welch once spelled out his six leadership rules:

1-Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.
2-Be candid with everyone.
3-Don't manage, lead.
4-Change before you have to.
5-If you don't have a competitive advantage, don't compete.
6-Control your own destiny, or someone else will.

Let's focus on Rule # 3 and explore the meaning of leading.

Welch once said that managers need to undergo a transformation if they want to become leaders:

~ "We have to undo a 100-year-old concept and convince our managers that their role is not to control people and stay on top of things, but rather to guide, energize and excite."

If you are a Change Agent, you'll notice the From-To structure implicit in his statement: From (controlling people and staying on top of them) and To (guiding people, energizing and exciting them). The From is where we are now, and the To describes the desired state we want to attain. But how will we achieve the change and get there? In a nutshell, we need a transition plan.

Long ago, the Father of Organizational Change, Kurt Lewin, taught us the metaphor of unfreezing and refreezing. To undo the old thinking (as Welch demands), we have to unfreeze our grip on fear and distrust, for that is the very reason we think (and feel) that we have to control people. Once we have loosened our grip on fear and can let it go, we can refreeze with a new concept. But what?

Consultant Bennet Simonton has the answer: liberation. Free them! Let your people go. Take off the shackles of control and unleash their spirits at work. Become Engaging Leaders!

So how can Managers make the transition to Engaging Leaders? Let's apply the ADKAR Model (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement) from Prosci research:

-Do your Managers know why this change is needed?
-Are they motivated to change?
-Do they know how to make the change happen?
-Do they have the ability to change?
-Do you have ways to encourage and sustain the managers as they endeavor to change?

Through this difficult transition, it will help to keep Welch's three leadership imperatives in view:

Guide: As John C. Maxwell has said so well, "Leaders know the way, show the way, and go the way." Leaders hold the vision up so the people can see where the company is going. Leaders are coaches, providing useful inputs to individuals and teams. And Leaders lead by their own example.

Energize: As electricity powers a fan and gives us a breeze, energy powers our progress toward our goals. Leaders have a direct impact on the energy that people need, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some things (like worry) waste our energy and drain it away. On the other hand, doing work that we care about, following our passions, and tackling challenging problems are examples of things that renew us.

Excite: Warren Bennis once said that "Leaders have the capacity to translate vision into reality." In other words, leaders have the ability to turn plans into results. How do they do that? By engaging, inspiring and motivating others.

As the ancient philosopher once said, "A leader knows his work has been done well when the people say 'We did this ourselves.'"

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Sunday February 6, 2011. Do you want your managers to become engaging leaders? For more ideas, invite Terry to your organization.