Delegate! Delegate! Delegate!

If you have been a leader in the LDS church you have probably heard this cry from many others that are helping you realize you can't do it alone. They go on and on about the reasons you have counselors or committees. They thank you for your hard work but plead with you to share the many tasks that are on your plate with those that can help. You innocently reply to this outcry that you simply want to make sure everything is done right and on time. If you delegate someone might drop the ball and then you, as the leader, are responsible. Nonetheless, you understand the importance of delegation and commit to delegate many of the tasks on your list.

Sister Toobusy: Sister Helper, I know I have been taking too much of the load lately so I really need your help teaching the next Sharing Time  lesson during primary.

Sister Helper: Sure I would love to help. I have noticed you have been taking on a lot as the Primary President. I am glad you feel like you can ask.

Sister Toobusy: Oh thank you! This will be such a blessing. The topic for this upcoming Sharing Time is Honor Thy Father and Mother so make sure you have enough material to fill 30 minutes. What you will want to do is use a lot of visual aids. These kids sure can get distracted easily. In fact, here are some cute coloring pages that you can use for the activity. OH! …and make sure you coordinate with Sister Singer so that she has songs prepared for the kids to sing that go along with the lesson topic. In fact, tell her we need to sing, Love is Spoken Here and Quickly I'll Obey. Spread out the singing time every ten minutes. And here…let me give you a cookie recipe you can make for the kids. Put each cookie in zip-lock bag and staple this cute message to it. Wow! Thanks Sister Helper for letting me delegate this to you.

Sister Helper: Um….sure….anytime.

An extreme example for sure but the point being — delegation is giving ownership of the task, not telling how to do the task.

The concept of autonomy has been address on this blog HERE and HERE (if you haven't watched that video clip you really should take the time to do so…there is a lot to learn). Autonomy is the main key that is missing from most delegation. The leader is so concern with the task getting done perfectly that they feel they must give detailed step-by-step direction. When in the end the person receiving the delegation is stripped of all motivation.

As a leader autonomy is your friend. It motivates and engages.

Author Dan Pink gives a compelling argument in his book Drive, The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us (and seriously…if you haven't read and studied this book as a leader you are really doing yourself a disservice)

A sense of autonomy has a powerful effect on individual performance and attitude. According to a cluster of recent behavioral science studies, autonomous motivation promotes greater conceptual understanding, better grades, enhances persistence at school and in sporting activities, higher productivity, less burnout, and greater levels of psychological well-being. Those effects carry over to the workplace. In 2004, Deci and Ryan, along with Paul Baard of Fordham University, carried out a study of workers at an American investment bank. The three researchers found a greater job satisfaction among employees whose bosses offered "autonomy support." These bosses saw issues from the employee's point of view, gave meaningful feedback and information, provided ample choice over what to do and how to do it, and encouraged employees to take on new projects. The resulting enhancement in job satisfaction, in turn, led to higher performance on the job. What's more, the benefits that autonomy confers on individuals extend to their organizations. For example, researchers at Cornell University studied 320 small businesses, half of which granted workers autonomy, the other half relying on top-down direction. The businesses that offered autonomy grew at four times the rate of the control-oriented firms and had one-third the turnover.
(Pink, 2009, 70)

In short, simply delegate by letting them know the result you want the task to produce.

Sister Toobusy: Sister Helper, I know I have been taking too much of the load lately so I really need your help teaching the next Sharing Time lesson during primary.

Sister Helper: Sure I would love to help. I have noticed you have been taking on a lot as the Primary President. I am glad you feel like you can ask.

Sister Toobusy: Great, I know you will do a wonderful job. Feel free to handle it anyway you would like. All I want is for this sharing time lesson to help the kids feel the spirit of the topic and feel motivated to respect their parents.

Sister Helper: I understand. I'll get it done.

If they need further direction they will let you know. But let them spread their wings and try. If it isn't as perfect as it would be if you did it yourself that's ok. At least you have a motivated and engaged team player on your side.

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