We often relate the success of any school to its leadership. We believe that if the leader has good leadership skills, then the team has direct support leading to the achievement of goals in a set span of time. But when we closely understand the main component of leadership, it says, “It is a skill where a leader’s work is to empower others and then lead the changes towards sustainability.” But what does ‘empowering others’ mean and how does this component lead changes to sustainability?
One of the very basic definitions of empowering says, “empowering is to give official authority to delegate legal powers, to commission and to authorize” (Grove, 1971, p. 744) or in other words we can say, “Leveraging each delegated task as an opportunity for others’ development.”
Based on the definitions above, the key element which leads to empowerment is ‘delegation’. Delegation, here simply means an assignment of responsibilities, authority and duties to another person. Though the definition sounds simple and easy, it may lead to problems if not executed the way it was thought. As a leader, my focus should not be on delegating more but on delegating effectively.
Let’s discuss the elements which lead to effective delegation:
- Show the bigger picture: As a leader, we often tend to pass updates in the form of responsibilities and duties in our general meetings. We do not explain why are they the chosen one or what contribution/difference will they make towards the goal and the vision of the school. Therefore, the staff is often in the notion of getting extra work and responsibility. They tend to care less and lose interest in the work assigned. This leads to an ineffective delegation. To overcome such challenges, a leader needs to start sharing why and how they fit in the bigger picture. A school leader needs to inspire, guide, influence and make their team members stronger and motivated. This will polish the skills of team members for their professional growth and create better outcomes.
- Distinguishing between delegation and micromanagement: Delegation sometimes can run into micromanagement as we delegate duties. What are the reasons which lead to micromanaging?
- Getting the best outcomes: Delegating a responsibility out of pressure for best outcomes and not trusting the concerned person may lead to micromanaging. This tends to create misunderstanding which may spoil the existing relationship. To avoid this, we need to trust the concerned person and have mutual expectations like setting the deadlines, discussing the quality of work, training the person etc. In the same process, the school leader needs to determine the follow-up structure for better support and outcomes.
- Upgrading the skill of the staff: Ever school leader wants the staff to be rich on skills. While delegation is an apt method for skill up-gradation, sometimes due to the dynamics of the places we work in, it is done on the basis of a personal relationship instead of the skill set. Or it is done to improve the skill set without considering the time required. Both these situations lead to micromanagement, creating an overburden of work. Therefore, every school leader should consider the following factors for the skill building of their staff.
- The person suitable for the task (one who is good at it and one who can learn)
- Time required for the task (deciding on deadlines)
- Number of people required
- Should the task be done by me or assigned to someone?
After a discussion over different aspects of effective delegation, I would like to conclude by saying - If I attach myself to a certain goal and find value in it, I feel completely accountable for the actions done. This helps me give my 100% to the task. I believe that as leaders, our vision and mission should always be to bring a positive change.
photo source: Lotus Lap school, Hyderabad