Delegation Success

Have you ever noticed that great leaders are also excellent delegators? Delegation saves time, develops and motivates people, and makes an organization more productive. Therefore, it is fair to say that this is one of the most critical skills for any leader or manager to acquire. For this reason, I encourage every leader to become a master delegator.

There are Seven Steps in the Delegation Process:

  1. Defining What to Delegate.
    There are really three reasons to delegate work: to better control our use of time, to build our people, or to motivate our people. So the first question you will need to answer is: why are you delegating?
  2. Selecting the Individual or Team.
    While I think we should always give our most important projects to our best players, we need to involve and delegate to the entire team at some point. With each person, consider why you are delegating (motivation, growth, or time management) a task, and match the appropriate tasks to that person’s capabilities.
  3. Assess Appropriate Level of Delegation.
    Typically, leaders delegate using the same style for every person on their team and this is a mistake. The level of delegation should be adjusted based on the task and the person being delegated to.
  4. Communicate Tasks In Specific Terms.
    This is where most delegation fails. If you want something done a specific way, tell them. If you are not clear about what you want, take the time to brainstorm with your colleague before they start working.
  5. State Measurable Results.
    Explain how a task fits into the overall organizational picture, describe the measurable results you are looking for, and let them know how you will rate their performance.
  6. Agree on Deadlines.
    The deadline is the most underappreciated part of delegation. Too many leaders give people tasks without asking what else they have on their “to do” list. This is a motivation killer. When you delegate a task, you must sit with the person you are delegating to and make sure that realistic deadlines are being created
  7. Follow-up and Feedback.
    It is essential that you have a feedback system in place so that you know that things are on track. In the end, you should take the blame for failure and pass on the credit for success.

Delegation is one of the most important tasks as a leader. When done correctly, it develops your succession, increases your personal productivity, and motivates your people.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or

Commitment to Change

Just like the people who work for them, CEOs and leaders come in all different sizes, shapes, styles, and backgrounds. As you can imagine, those variations influence how their people behave, who they hire, the systems and processes they use, and the strength of the team they have around them, etc. Dave Kurlan of Objective Management Group put together a list of 10 ways some CEOs react to recommendations he makes about their sales force. They are exactly the typical answers we’ve heard from the CEOs and seniors regarding unsuccessful projects of all types:

#1 – “Thank you for your advice. I’m not comfortable with that.” Who says that you have to be COMFORTABLE? You have to do the right thing for your company!

#2 – “I’m not quite ready for that. How about if we do that in six months?” This is a less honest version of #1 – at least be straight with me!

#3 – “Whatever you say. You’re the expert.” This tends to work out a lot like #1. Yes, they agree with whatever I say but are no stronger with management than with me and can’t drive change.

#4 – “This is B*ll S*it. They’re just going to have to do what you say, right now, or they’re gone.” That’s the spirit, but it isn’t driving change. You can’t pound people with a sledgehammer to drive change; you have to inspire them to change.

#5 – “Let me see if I can get some consensus for this.” Oh-oh, this isn’t going to work. You never get consensus from people who don’t want change in the first place!

#6 – “OK. Let’s talk about how we’re going to accomplish that, given our challenges.” Much better! At least we’re going to talk about how we can implement…

#7 – “Great – can YOU deliver that message for me?” This is even worse than #5!

#8 – “I’m not going to drive this. One of my senior managers will have to drive this.” OK, how many years are you willing to wait to find a genius who finds value in this AND isn’t threatened by it or me?

#9 – “Why aren’t my people doing what they’re supposed to do?” Because you have to be strong enough to tell them that it’s a condition of continued employment rather than quietly sitting there, not saying a thing, and expecting something to change!

#10 – I don’t want to do it your way. I think it should be done my way instead.” Ah, excuse me, but isn’t that the same way you were doing it for the last 10 years – and it didn’t work then either?

Remember, your people won’t be committed to change if leadership isn’t.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or

Is Your Business Model in Danger?

If a company is not meeting its growth potential, is growing slower than the competition, or worse, not growing, it is likely that it has a strategy problem.

Too often companies misdiagnose their strategy challenges as problems with sales staff or some other operational issue.  It is critical to know what the real issue is. Strategy issues are serious,  and the longer it takes to recognize them, the more money you burn on taking the wrong initiatives.

A great example is Blockbuster. For a long time, every company in the movie rental industry was trying to catch up with Blockbuster. Suddenly, though, their profits began to stagnate. They spent years making various changes inside their stores and small moves to play in the online space without realizing that the industry was moving in a different direction. Instead of using their financial strength and size to make a strong move in the online space, they allowed an upstart, Netflix, to take the lead position. Eventually Netflix and others transformed and restructured the industry, and now Blockbuster is in bankruptcy. By not having a good strategy.

This article was inspired by a company that came to Activate recently because they wanted help with their sales force. The president was concerned that the old sales force structure was not working well. He wanted us to evaluate his sales structure and people. He thought he might need a different type of salesperson and did not know whether they should be contemplating an inside or outside person.  However, as I spoke with him further it was clear that the company failed to have a strategic plan.  Their strategy was “to grow faster”.  That was it.  The president could not explain to me in a compelling way why a prospect should buy from his company versus another. If he could not verbalize why his company was a better choice, how could his sales force do it?

Based on our discussion, his core customers were middlemen in an industry and either were going out of business or consolidating. Pricing for his product had been steadily dropping for several years.  Customers had been moderating the use of his product during the recession or forgoing it altogether. The structure of his industry had been changing dramatically, and his primary competitors now had a much broader range of products to offer. These new products were higher-ticket items and more of a necessity than what his company had to offer. Clearly his company’s business model is in danger, yet this company was failing to recognize it.

I recently read an article in the January-February 2011 edition of Harvard Business Review – “An Interview with Columbia Business School professor Rita Gunther McGrath,” by Sarah Cliffe.  One of the key questions asked in the article was, “What are the signs that a business model is running out of gas?” The following were the key  signs:

  • Your people have trouble thinking of new ways to enhance your company’s offering.
  • Customers are saying that new alternatives are increasingly acceptable to them.
  • Problems start to show up in your financial numbers or other performance indicators.

Often companies ignore or dismiss these issues.  It is easy to do since so many in their industry are facing similar problems. The smart competitors and upstarts like Netflix identify what is next for their industry and figure out how to make the next move to tip the scales in their favor. Companies are most vulnerable when they are on top or when their profit levels are considered acceptable. Leaders get complacent, arrogant and blinded by success. Reasons for change are not compelling enough, as there is no burning platform from which to get people to see outside the current paradigm.

Even when a company acknowledges a need to change, it is difficult to decide how to go about it. The challenge becomes at what pace do you make the shift in your business model. How long should you stay in your old business model to fund the new one? There is no precise answer. In addition, the new model may be radical and could require significant investment in time, new people, knowledge, and money. The existing management is likely not the team for the new journey.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm, please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or .