Lessons in Leadership – Learning delegation from a child

Last night my youngest daughter delivered these faithful words at 2am – “Daddy, my tummy hurts.”  I turned on the light and asked her “Tell me about the hurt?”  Her response was pretty simple “I think I am going to get sick.  I need to go to the bathroom.”  My response “Go ahead.”  I will spare you the details of the next 20 minutes, but I judge the endings of these things based on how much work I end up having to do.  In this case, I was just needed for comfort.  Whew.

As I think about that event today, I realized that my daughter is growing up.  She got up when she felt bad, came to tell me, and with very little help from me other than a slight nudge, she took care of herself.  We have raised a child that is showing signs of maturity and independence.  It feels good.

One of the big challenges of leaders is growing individuals and teams that show that kind of independence.  I have always been struck by all the different ways people have created to measure the effectiveness of a leader.   Too often we depend on a test or a psychologist to measure how well individuals and teams are developing into independent thinkers. 

Here is a simple one to measure how independent your team is today.  Take a piece of paper and every time someone on your team comes to you with a need for help today make a mark.  If they bring the answer or you are able to get them to provide their own answer, circle that mark.   At the end of the day what does the sheet say about your leadership style and their ability to solve their own problems?

Your development plan – more marks with circles tomorrow because you ask what they think the answer is more often. 

When they leave with their own answer, you are becoming a developer of people . . and a leader.  Trust me, it will feel good.