Delegation: The Covey Way.

I am quickly becoming a Dave Ramsey fan. My girlfriend’s father is a huge Dave Ramsey fan, and he recommended and gave Dave’s book, EntreLeadership, to me as a Christmas gift this past year. I have started reading it and it is an excellent book. Reading this book led to me following him on Twitter and downloading his podcasts on iTunes. If you read much of Dave’s material or listen to any of his podcasts, you will be introduced to a list of excellent leaders such as Chris Locurto, Dr. Stephen Covey and Jon Acuff. All of these guys have excellent time-tested principles on leadership, entrepreneurship and financial planning.

I recently listened to a Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership podcast on iTunes entitled “Delegation with Stephen M. R. Covey” and it was awesome. As an aspiring leader, there were a few things that I took away from the podcast that I felt were worth sharing with my readers.

The first, and in my opinion the most important, statement I want to share with you from the podcast is this: “Delegate results, not activities.” If you really think about this statement, you will acknowledge its power and importance. Let me relate this to a story. I was elected by my business professors to be the School of Business Club President for the 2011-2012 academic year. The first event that the School of Business Club hosts every academic year is a Networking Social. The idea behind the event is to invite business professionals from the local area and beyond to come and speak directly with the best students in the business program. This is one way that the School of Business builds relationships between the college and businesses for students.

As you can imagine, this event takes a lot of planning. We have a database of businesses that we have compiled throughout the years, and we use this list as a starting point in getting businesses to the Social. So, as the new President trying to run the Club to my best abilities, I wanted to make the event more successful than ever before. I went to work. I took the list, recruited help and divided up the list of companies to the volunteers. I wrote a script for the volunteers to use when they were “cold-calling”, formed a follow-up  e-mail for them to send out to the ‘interested’ businesses, and asked them to report back as soon as they called all the businesses on their list. And they did. We waited a week and we repeated the process with the business that either did not answer or asked us to call back.

As you can see, I delegated activities. I failed to delegate the results. My delegation should have been this simple: “We need businesses to come to our Networking Social. You are my group of volunteers to make this happen. Here is the list. Ready. Set. Go.” By delegating the tasks, I was micromanaging too much. A huge part in delegating is trust. I had a great group of volunteers. They were fully capable of cold-calling and engaging in conversation without a script. I failed to trust them.

Dr. Covey states in the podcast that leaders should give people the opportunity to get creative in achieving the end results. Leaders tend to think that their way is the best way, when that is not always the case. Leaders were taught to be leaders by other leaders.  Great leaders take the good qualities of their teachers, apply it to themselves, and mix in some of his or her creativity and pass it along to those that they teach. It is a system. The store manager that I work for does an excellent job at delegating the results. He gives me the opportunity to get the job done in my own way. And more importantly, he trusts me. He does this because this is how he was taught. And now, he is teaching me.

The podcast gives three steps to make delegating results, not activities, easier. I am taking some liberties on the interpretation of what each of the steps include…you are free to make your own interpretations.

1. Declare Intent- This step is where the leader states the desired goals, mission, objectives, vision, etc. This is very direct and to the point, using closed statements without the need for interpretation. Depending on the situation and project, it may be helpful to write these down for future reference for the team.

2. Clarify Expectations- I feel that this is the time to restate the objectives and time for questions from the team. Leaders should ensure that the goals are understood and everyone is on the same page. Dr. Covey states that is is crucial to “inspect what you expect.” Leaders should carefully inspect, or look at the details of, what they expect the team to accomplish. I feel that this is also the point that a leader should inform the team that he will be available throughout the process for concerns, questions and comments.

2. Practice Accountability- People who truly want to accomplish a goal, want to be accountable. Leaders should hold their teams accountable for reaching the end result. Praise should be given to those that accomplish it, and constructive criticism should be given to those that fall short. Leaders need to understand that teams will fail. Its inevitable. And that is okay. What is done to correct the failure is the important part, and that is the learning experience.

Leadership is, in part, about delegating tasks, but it important to do it correctly. I hope this has helped you think about your delegation style and I hope that these time-tested principles will enable you to become a better leader.

Thanks for reading.


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2 thoughts on “Delegation: The Covey Way.

  1. […] 2. Delegation: The Covey Way […]

  2. […] they take the initiative to do it without the list? They want to be led. This goes against Delegation: The Covey Way in many aspects that I so strongly believe in. Give the associates a to do list and they will get […]

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