As a leader, who is always trying to learn and improve, one of the things I’ve always tried to do is hire the best, most competent people and then get out of their way.
Of course, you always want to be there for your team. You want to share your experiences, talk through things, let them bounce ideas off of you, et al., but you also want to give them the autonomy and freedom to run.
Often times, my team will do something better than I would. Sometimes, they do it worse. When this happens, we wait until after-the-fact and then talk about what they could’ve done differently.
Other times, the outcome is similar, but they go about it in a unique way. This often provides an opportunity we can all learn from.
One thing I’ve discovered is that employees learn a lot more from the mistakes they made, and learned from, than the mistakes you prevented them from making.
All of this brings me to the topic at hand, leadership bottlenecks.
Too often I see leaders that want to approve and sign off on EVERYTHING.
Sure, this might be necessary for a small handful of super important things, but mostly it causes bottlenecks that marginally improve the product/outcome (if at all) while drastically increasing the (unnecessary) time spent on something.
These bottlenecks are expensive because these delays have opportunity costs.
When you, as a leader, are spending time unnecessarily going back and forth, marginally improving your employee’s work, and/or trying to make every decision via committee, or consensus, you’re:
- discouraging your team
- losing out on opportunities
- not working on the highest ROI initiatives
I’m still thinking about this, but, when in doubt, I try to set clear expectations and provide guardrails (i.e. help run the traps), and then empower others to make decisions and complete the work to our team’s [high] standards. If they make a mistake, I’ll fall on the sword.
It may be a bit uncomfortable upfront, but when you can delegate [appropriate] decision making and authority to your team, the whole team benefits in the long run.
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