Creating the next generation of leaders is no laughing matter. It takes deliberate effort, and done right, it makes your job as a leader a whole easier in the long run. You become a talent magnet and cultivate leaders of high character to lead your organization into the future.
Putting properly trained front-line personnel in positions that enable them to make decisions that stick enables you to gain their trust and build their enthusiasm for the job. In turn, that trust will spread within the organization and lead to the delivery of outstanding performance by eliminating the bureaucracy that often stifles the progress of your team.
Of course, you need to be mindful of preparing them for their role and getting them to share the same goals as you and the rest of the team. When they're ready, you can have confidence in letting your best and brightest do their thing.
Here are six tips that you can use to enable your team to make decisions that stick:
1. Spot and grow talent across the organization.
A great leader knows talent. Be a talent hound and work to identify those that can be both a great complement to your team and a leader worth developing.
If you see a person who doesn't shy away from taking on new responsibilities, they're a keeper. If you see a person who demands the spotlight at every turn, they may not be one to invest in. Nonetheless, a great team provides the fodder that you need to build leaders in your organization.
2. Prepare them to make the call.
Training is an important element on staff preparedness. Be sure to properly train your team before putting them in charge of making the call.
When empowering your team to take on more responsibility, emphasize the importance of considering alternatives, evaluating the risks, and thinking through the implications of decisions before making final calls. Reinforcing this kind of thinking will contribute to them making better decisions.
When I mentor my coaching clients, for example, I always ask them to walk me through their rationale for how they made a recent key decision. Whether the decision was good or bad, I'm looking to see whether they considered alternatives and risks beforehand--emphasizing the importance of the practice until it becomes second nature. You can do the same when coaching your leadership talent.
3. Resist the urge to prescribe how the work is done.
Once a team is properly prepared, there's no need to micromanage. Instead, let the leaders that you're developing decide how best to proceed.
Of course, you'll want to keep an open door policy and invite them to reach out whenever they need advice or want a sounding board. You get the best of both worlds when you operate in this fashion--a team that respects you and an empowered team of leaders.
4. Design the decision rights.
Everyone needs to know what decisions they can make on a day-by-day basis and when additional oversight is needed. Be sure to outline those "decision rights" as you empower your team members.
It's a great idea to involve your people in setting their "decision rights." Mutually agreeing to the conditions in which a leader can act independently--and which situations require the involvement of you or others to assist in direction setting--makes those decision rights easier to understand and institute.
5. Use the veto sparingly.
When you've authorized a team member to make a decision, it's important not to change or veto it. Instead, when results are disappointing due to a sub-par call, use it as a teaching moment and discuss with them how to make a better decision next time. They'll improve their skills and you'll build a stronger team as a result.
6. Hold your people accountable to get things done.
Accountability comes with leadership. Just because you're developing people doesn't mean that you don't hold them accountable for delivering results. Be sure to make expectations clear and hold your people to meeting them.
It's really that simple: Set clear expectations and manage your team to them. After all, any experienced leader understands that deadlines are deadlines, budgets are budgets, and goals are goals. Insist that your team of leaders live within those boundaries and you'll create the next generation of leaders that you can count on.