26 Apr 2018

They Did it Themselves

Liverpool 5

Roma 2

Scorelines mark the limit of my understanding of the beautiful game and any further comments or analogies about football must be treated with suspicion. Watching the interviews with the fans, the team members and Jurgen Klopp, I was reminded about one of the universal truths of leadership: “Leaders are only needed when they are needed”.

I have often marvelled at the abilities of managers to micro-manage their teams from the sidelines, in any other venture this would be leadership suicide.

This brings me onto more familiar territory and the subject of delegation and what can and cannot be delegated.

Well, if you have considered this question in the past with any rigour, you will have concluded that almost everything can be delegated and there is a short list of things that should not be delegated – some staff matters, confidential discussions, final decisions etc.

If we can then maybe we should.

In extremis we can be surprised at what others can do, it is almost possible to delegate all tasks, responsibility to decide and act right down to lower operational levels. While this is theoretically possible, it may not be desirable. The reason that everything is not delegated has roots in the judgement of the manager.

Reluctance to delegate is the product of the risk assessment made by all in authority based on multiple factors, for example:

  • Failure to deliver
  • Poor job done, untimely delivery or incompletion
  • Doubt about the abilities of those to whom we may delegate
  • Overloading an employee
  • Fear of becoming irrelevant
  • Our sense of our own importance
  • Confidentiality

Quite a list, no wonder we tend to hang on to tasks and minor responsibilities when we could delegate.

What strikes you about this list and its relationship with the leader?

Most of the bullet points have roots in the leader’s insecurities.

If we are to liberate our people and discover what they can truly achieve, then we should start by dealing with our own lack of confidence. This work will be multi-faceted and may require some deep thinking and rationalisation, do this work first.

Once you increase your belief and confidence in yourself, your people will feel it and their confidence will grow.

Klopp has liberated his players and created the environment in which they can rightly claim to have done it themselves. Your turn now.

For more on this, consider enrolling on the next series of our Governing Change programme, which equips managers with the skills, attitudes and disciplines needed to take their careers to the highest possible levels.