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Simon says, “Delegate often and well.”

Delegation is, for Simon, a critical key to his success. He knows leadership superstars have elevated effective delegation to an art form. In fact, success with delegation is the single most important factor separating leaders who achieve their mission-specific goals from those who do not.

Try this. Design a one legged stool. One end of the leg must be attached to the stool and the other end can touch the ground at one single point but cannot be in the ground or supported by anything else. The stool must be functional, serving the usual purpose of being a place for a person to rest those weary bones.

It is actually fairly easy. Get a board and attach the leg to it. Set the stool up and sit on it. So long as you are sitting on it, your stool works fine. The problem is, if you get up, your stool falls over. You have to do the work of the missing legs yourself which works fine if you have nothing else to do and are willing to sit on the stool forever. Now if you are not quite up to eternity on the stool, you will need to make other arrangements: you have to delegate.

Since Simon is not about to spend his life sitting on the stool, he has three rules for getting others on the team to pitch in. First, he appropriately delegates tasks and duties. You see he does not pass on his responsibilities. He is still responsible for the teams success; but others on the team can and should help carry the load. This cannot be a “whomever happens to be around” process. Simon is careful to only delegate to people who have the skills and know-how to get the job done; they have to be up to it.

Second, Simon does not delegate a job to someone and then try to manage it himself or second-guess the person who was assigned the job. His reasons here are important. Simon is not going to sit on the stool and is not about to hover around just to be sure the job gets done or it is not screwed up. If he needs to do that, he might as well sit on the stool himself. More importantly, second guessing and a hands-on approach with delegated tasks would mean he did not have much confidence in the person given the assignment. If that is where it is, Simon screwed up. He delegated inappropriately: he picked the wrong person to hold up the stool.

Third, Simon always delegates enough authority so the person can get the job done. This does not mean he gives anyone an unlimited, free reign. What each person does must fit with everyone else’s activities. The team needs to work together as a team. At the same time, each team member needs the freedom and authority to do what needs done.

Simon does not get into “Mother, may I?” It certainly is not a “Check with me at every step along the way for authorization,” approach for Simon’s team. Those on the team are competent, make good choices and decisions, and can be trusted to do the right things right. If this is not true, Simon needs to reexamine who is on his team and think about who may need to be replaced. Nonetheless, not to give people the authority they need to get the job done would mean Simon does not quite trust, does not really believe. It would also mean he is still holding up the stool instead of getting on with getting on down the road.

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