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How to be a productive leader without working too hard?

Any leader wants to be as productive as possible, but very often the same drive that makes a good leader can create a desire for control and for doing everything personally.

That is admirable in its way and hard work is definitely a good leadership quality, but working too hard will leave anyone overwhelmed and less able to perform.

If there are a lot of task deadlines looming, how can you best meet them and accomplish more as an individual and as a company?

Productive Leaders Do Not DIY

The higher up the ladder you are the more people depend on you.

Your decisions have increasingly widespread consequences and your work has ever greater influence and importance. It’s perfectly natural to want to increase your control over all these choices and tasks as a result of that. You want to feel that you are in maximum control over your own fate, to say nothing all those like your employees who depend on your business’ success.

The most important thing to keep in mind that a leader is not the same thing as a manager.

A manager has a lot to do to keep the company ticking over in an efficient way. They must ensure that standards are met and customers satisfied, they must deal with staff issues like hiring and firing, they are responsible for ensuring equipment is working and getting it repaired as needed, and so on.

These are all vital tasks, make no mistake, but the demands on a leader are actually rather different.

A productive leader is concerned with the big picture. They are thinking about how decisions made today will impact the company’s fortunes for years to come. They are making choices that could steer the company into positions of great success or serious trouble. They are thinking about new markets and new regions to expand into, looking at how the competition is faring, and evaluating whether and which new technologies might have serious implications on a company-wide basis. These are matters which require intensive and extensive research and thought.

A good leader cannot, therefore, be bogged down with the daily minutiae of the business. Those tasks must be handled by people hired and trained for those particular roles — by managers. As a leader you must exercise your leadership not by close control but by delegation.

Delegative Leadership Is Strong Leadership

Delegation is important to free your own mental and temporal resources up and let you focus on the bigger picture. If you are micromanaging what your staff are doing, or doing those jobs yourself, that means you’re not paying attention to your own duties as a leader.

It’s not just a case of delegative leadership helping you do your own job though, it also helps your staff do theirs.

Assuming they are competent enough to do the job (and you presumably wouldn’t have hired them otherwise) they will neither need nor appreciate too much involvement from above. It could cause resentment and a feeling that they are not trusted to do their job, which is neither healthy nor productive.

By contrast if you exercise a delegative leadership you can show that you do trust them and this will inspire them to demonstrate that it was well placed.

Finding the right balance between involvement and delegation is one of the trickier parts of a delegative leadership but it is well worth doing because it will yield great rewards not just for yourself but the business as a whole.

Why Don’t People Delegate?

There are a variety of reasons people fail to exercise delegative leadership, such as:

• A feeling that you do not have the time to explain tasks sufficiently to delegees

• Belief that only you can do the task adequately

• A sense of lost control. It can be unsettling to trust others to do tasks your own performance relies on

• Worry that the credit will go elsewhere

• Your people may be concerned that they will fail or will be scapegoated if mistakes are made

Fortunately these concerns with delegative leadership can be largely addressed if you exhibit the very characteristics a good leader should possess.

Effective Delegative Leadership

It’s important for you to keep in mind that delegative leadership still contains the idea of ‘leadership’ within it. You are most certainly not expected to abscond your responsibilities or rely totally on others for everything. Rather, the purpose of delegative leadership is to change to a particular style of leadership which involves a degree of mutual trust and support.

You still have work to do because you must come to understand your employees and learn their strengths and weaknesses. You must provide supportive encouragement, especially towards those not used to delegative leadership or the responsibilities they are expected to carry under it, such as young graduates.

Your mindset is the basis for the whole principle of delegative leadership. As discussed, trust is important. You must trust your employees to do what you ask in a timely fashion whilst they must trust that they will get the credit they deserve.

They must also know you will listen to their thoughts and feedback on what is and is not feasible for them to do.

Changing your mindset and your habits can be difficult, but here are some core guidelines that will help you implement effective delegative leadership:

• Abandon the idea that “if you want something done right, do it yourself”. Other people are entirely competent.

• Be willing to assign work and help people get a grip on what you want from them.

• Be open to requests for help and guidance and be constructive in your feedback.

• Delegate the objective you want to be achieved, not the way to achieve it. Let people work in their own way, just as long as the work gets done.

• Don’t resent the time spent training people. It’s a long-term investment because once trained they will always be able to do this job. In a similar vein they will probably make some mistakes or have extra questions the first time out — expect these and handle them calmly and helpfully.

Keeping these in mind will go a long way towards training yourself in delegative leadership.

Delegative Leadership is Good Leadership

Delegative leadership is a vital part of a successful organization.

It ensures that work is apportioned to those best equipped to do it, from the top down, and it means that as a leader you are not spending your time on daily tasks when you should be looking at the bigger picture.

How do you feel about delegative leadership and giving tasks to others? Do you find delegation difficult? Are you really more productive doing everything all by yourself?

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