This week I am excited to bring you a brief interview with Dave Stitt. Dave is one of the leading executive team coaches based in the UK. I had the pleasure of meeting Dave over the holidays and taking a long walk out into the beautiful countryside of the Tyne Valley, in the north of England. Dave has been working with teams for over 20 years and he has come to realize that delegation is a crucial skill for any leader. Fortunately for us, he has just published a new book on the topic: Deep and Deliberate Delegation: A new art for unleashing talent and winning back time. It is an easy read that presents you with practical, actionable guidance on what delegation really is and how to do it so you reap the full benefits. Anyhow, let’s get to the interview.
Why did you decide to write ‘Deep and Deliberate Delegation’? Mark Thompson MD, a previous client asked me to do a workshop on delegation. I said no, I don’t do training. And then it hit me, the challenge of delegation was in every business conversation I had in the weeks that followed, and in the 3 years since! And yet no one was talking about it as a core competency. I realized Mark was on to something and the idea to write a book about it was born.
What is it about delegation that most people find so difficult? It seems people really struggle identifying what to delegate. This is what I call the ‘what of delegation’ – unless you identify what you are going to delegate the whole subject of ‘how’ becomes an academic exercise
How can you tell if you are a good delegator? You get to see your kids, have hobbies, have a life – you seem to be able to ‘unleash talent around you and have won back your time’
Let’s say I struggle with delegation, how is that likely to impact me? You spend all your time working, you don’t see the kids, you don’t have an outside work life, everything is piling up, your inbox is crammed, your people are hacked off, you are constantly having to motivate them with extrinsic incentives, bonuses, more salary, bigger car, bigger office. Your boss sees you as a choke point, someone who has reached their level or even overreached. You are stuck. On many levels.
What advice do you have for someone who has always struggled with delegation? Give my book to someone you trust, someone that will be straight with you. Ask them to read it with you in mind and then give you structured feedback in relation to your delegation/ management: 1) what should you continue doing because you are great at it, 2) what should you start to do because you really need to be doing this but you are not and 3) what you should stop doing because its driving us crazy. Tell them you want intelligent comment and that they should follow the books approach to feedback. Then listen to them and maybe ask for the book back and delve deeper into the sections relating to their feedback. And then read the whole book. Look upon it as a program of development informed by objective feedback from a trusted source who has your best interests at heart and then deeper self-discovery.
What is one simple thing we can all do to improve our ability to delegate effectively? Think outside of the immediate ‘transaction’ of me asking you to do something, look at the ‘system’ and the ‘forces’ or influences coming into play that could derail the success of the delegation and mitigate them. This is highly complex though if you can just stop and think for a moment ‘what could derail this’ and then take account of the two or three things you come up with then that might just make the difference.
What will a reader take away from reading your book? Why will it make them a better delegator? I think they will come away with “Hold on, there is more to delegation (deep and deliberate) than I first thought” and that raised awareness will be enough to make them stop and think before they ‘task dump’ on someone. Stopping and thinking and using some of the tools will definitely make them a better delegator. The folks who came to my very first delegation program were honest with me at the end. On the way to the first session they were thinking “what can we possibly spend the afternoon talking about, this is just delegation and I already do a bit of that”. Two months later at the end of the program they were saying “we went through that too quick, there is so much to it”. People just don’t get it. The book gives them a decent first cut.
After reading Dave’s book, I have no doubt you will agree, “there is more to delegation that I first thought”.