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Hokey Pokey-er to Ballroom Dancer


Brad emailed me, ”Marcus, you bastard, tell me what you did! :)”

Okay, okay.  Here’s what I did. I learned to delegate decisions to my team.

And that simple change made all the difference.

See, my team had become too dependent on my presence and had stopped thinking for themselves.  That made me feel good at times, but it also brought constant pressure to stay ahead of the team.  It also stunted the team’s growth because they started exhibiting “learned helplessness,” waiting for me to make even the smallest decisions.

The real world steps in

“Delegate decisions” has a nice ring to it.  But between you and every great idea stands the implementation hurdles.  The situations, people, and problems that make platitudes worthless.
But this isn’t a platitude.  It’s a leadership value that allows you to scale yourself, build trust relationships, and focus on the work of leading your team.

Plus, it treats your team like adults capable of making the right decision.

Start today

The next time someone wants a decision from you, _especially a technical decision,_ delegate that decision to them.

For example, if your developer asks, “Which server holds the new database?”
You might say, “Great question.  Would you research that decision and let me know your recommendation?”

If they say, “I have no idea.  I thought you decided that.”
You could say, “I’d like you to take a crack at making this decision.  Would you look into it, and then let me know what you recommend before you move forward?”

Delegating a decision is much like delegating anything else.  You’ve got to give them the latitude to think, research, and act with their best judgment.  If you’re not sure the person has what they need to make the decision, help them find the resources to make a good decision.

Now, when you start, it might feel like a big risk.  If you’re concerned, tell them to discuss their decision with you before they act on it.  That way you can avoid disasters and give them information to make better decisions next time.

But don’t make this a long-standing habit, as your goal is to build a team that can think as well as they can code.

In the end, that’s the key to sanity in management.

Your turn

What’s standing in your way of delegating decisions?

About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

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