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Avoiding Reverse Delegation


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"Once a leader has delegated responsibility, he should never interfere, lest his subordinates come to believe that the duties are not truly theirs." - Leadership Methods of Ancient Warriors

In my experience as a leader (and at the same time subordinate), I have come across different types of bosses. There was one who, after giving me a task to accomplish, kept on coming to my office every now and then - checking on my progress. Every time his face appears at my door, my internal organs shout at the top of their lungs (do internal organs have lungs?), "STOP BARKING AT MY NECK!"

Then there was one who, at the end of every discussion detailing things to be done, invariably finishes his statements with, "Anyway, no big deal Rey." And I really take his words to the bank, and don't give much seriousness to the task at hand - until one day he would call me and follow-up on the "important" matters we discussed the other day. When it happens, my internal organs shout, "WHAAAT, I THOUGHT IT WAS NO BIG DEAL, REY."

Then one day, I found the "perfect boss." When we agree on something, he would simply say, "I will not follow-up, and I'm not concerned about how you do things. Just give me the results when the time comes. And please, no surprises." This time my internal organs found heaven - "HALLELUJAH."

Fellow leader, which type of boss are you? Are you the one who barks at the neck of your people, making sure they cannot sleep at night until the task is finished? Or somebody who downplays important issues, and explode every time results are not delivered? Or you could be the boss who honors commitments, trust in the ability of your people to do things, and demand results as promised?

What if things go wrong along the way? Now you ask me.

You should be on top of things, and be ready to recall delegation when the need arises. That's why my "perfect boss" always remind me - no surprises! It should form part of your agreement that you be informed should things go wrong. Conflagrations always have a small beginning, but end up burning the whole block because of failure to address the "small issues" as they arise.

What if the subordinate asks for your assistance, even if you know he is capable of doing things assigned? Again, you ask.

Ahh, this is called "reverse delegation," and should be avoided at all cost if you want to be effective as a leader . . .

What is this thing called "reverse delegation"? How do you know when it's coming? What will you do to prevent it from happening?

Knowing the answer to these questions will surely save you lots of trouble, especially in your people-management activities, and bring your leadership effectiveness one notch higher. According to Attila the Hun; "Even I cannot accomplish for you what you are not willing to accomplish for yourselves. You must be willing to accept the responsibilities that I choose to delegate to you."

From one of ancient history's greatest warriors, we can copy some of his techniques but not all. Because we should . . .

Always remember, life is sweet but short. Learn to enjoy, and enjoy learning!

All is well.

"Honor all commitments you make during discussions, lest your people fail to trust your word in the future."

About the Author

Rey Misoles is CEO and Managing Director of MaP Consulting Group, a consulting and training outfit for developing managerial competence.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-10-11 13:27:30 in Employee Articles

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