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The Biggest Mistake Leaders Make In Delegation (Learn To Delegate Like A Pro)

I recently took my team to Leadercast 2014.  During our lunch break I was asking everyone on our team what their greatest takeaway from the morning was.  Our 20 year old program director, Meredith, floored me with her response.  I realized that I had learned the same lesson after years of struggling with delegation.  However, she picked up on it and put words to my greatest challenge with delegation in a few hours.  I learned a lot at Leadercast, but I didn’t expect this lesson on how to delegate tasks.

How to delegate to my team.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Back to my conversation with Meredith.


Me to Meredith; “What’s your greatest takeaway so far?

Meredith; “I’m good at delegating tasks.  I’m terrible at delegating decisions.

And there it was my friend.  I realized I had mastered task delegations years ago.  In fact, pretty quick into my leadership journey I had delegating tasks down.

  1. Identity the next action step required.
  2. Decide the best equipped person to handle the action step.
  3. Assign it to them.
  4. Record the assignment in whatever task management system I was using at the time.  (I’m now 100% on Nozbe and loving it thanks to Jackie Bledsoe Jr.).
  5. Followup with the person when the action step requires it depending on difficulty, due date, etc.

Pretty simple.


But, I never felt like I was getting ahead.


How about you?  Do you feel more or less free to dream about the vision of your organization and how to reach it as you delegate more and more?  I for one was always confused.  Why was I still so swamped when I had everything delegated out?


Enter Dave Ramsey book Entreleadership.


From Mr. Ramsey, I learned and use the 3 suggestions rule.  (Actually, I only require 2.)  The rule is this.  When you bring me a problem, come with 3 (or 2) suggestion on how to fix it.  After I’m presented the problem and the suggested solutions I decide on a course of action.  I make sure the person knows why or why I’m not using one of their suggestions.  Over time, I learn how my team thinks and they learn how to think like me when solving problems.  After a few rounds of this, I can eventually say; “You no longer need to bring problems like this to me.  I trust you to decide.”

Overall, this has been working great.  And Meredith helped me see what I was actually doing in this process.  I was delegating decisions.

When I would simply delegate task in the past without delegating the authority to make decisions….I was setting my team up to have to come back to me with questions.  However, once I started passing on the responsibility to make decisions I started noticing more time in my day to focus on the things that only I can do.

With Dave Ramesy’s approach I am teaching my team how to make decisions.  Thus, delegating decisions making when the team member is ready.  Now that Meredith has helped me connect the dots, I’m going to be able to be even more intentional.


What I Have To Stop Doing.


I also had another light bulb moment.  And, that lead to me apologizing to my team.  Recently I would reply like this when asked about something I didn’t need to be involved in.  “You decide, I don’t care.”

What I thought I was saying was this; “You can decide this.  I trust you.  I don’t need to care about this, because you have it covered.”

What I now realize I was covertly communicating.  “You decide.  I don’t care about small things like this.  It’s such a small decision, it’s beneath me.  You are only capable of handling this kind of small thing and I don’t care.  Only bother me with the big important stuff.”

Not what I thought, felt nor meant.  But the words we use matter.

Now, I will simply reply;  “Thanks for asking.  However, I trust you.  I’d like for you to decide.  I’ll support you whatever you decide.”  And, after saying this a few times, I’ll just cut it down to; “You can decide this.  I trust you.”

What About You?  Do you delegate decisions as well as you delegate tasks?


What Do You Know?


I would appreciate any insight you can share on delegation in the comments or by sending me an email.



How To Make Feedback a G.I.F.T.


I recently heard a guy at church tell this story about his son, we will call his son Ted.

Ted goes golfing for the first time with some friends.

His friends were all hitting the ball more then 150 yards.

Image courtesy of pat138241 at

Image courtesy of pat138241 at

Now Ted, golfing for the first time, could only hit the ball 50 yards.  And, he had a terrible slice.  His ball kept landing almost off the fairway, but at least he was still in the open fairway and could see his ball.  One of the other kids had a pretty much equal slice.  But, he was hitting his ball about 200 yards…his ball was in the trees, in water, in the sand…pretty much anywhere it shouldn’t be.

The only difference at play between Ted and the other kid was distance.

We also see this principle in workplace leadership.

The further you allow someone on you team, or the team itself, to go in the wrong direction..the greater the error.

If you avoid a conversation with someone because it will be uncomfortable, the eventual conversation will just be worse.

If someone is causing dissension amongst the team with a negative attitude, negative talk, laziness, gossiping etc.  The longer you allow the issue to go…the greater the damage.


Error Increases With Distance.


  • Don’t wait for annual reviews to give feedback.
  • Have regularly scheduled one-on-ones with your direct reports.
  • Empower supervisors to immediately address problems.
  • Make Gossip a fireable offense.  (Here’s a post with more on that)
  • What gets rewarded gets repeated.  (tweet that) Pay more attention to positive decisions and beneficial attitudes then to negative ones.
  • Make feedback a GIFT:
    • Genuine – Don’t give blanket statements such as, “Good Job”.  Read Matt McWilliams post for more on this.
    • Immediate – Don’t wait, give feedback as soon as possible.
    • Friendly – Don’t be a jerk. You aren’t in your position because no one else can do your job, you are there because you got there first.  Check your ego at the door.
    • Tailored – Read The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.  Reinforce desirable decision making by showing appreciation to each person on your team in the manner that they most appreciate.  For some it will be a quick email.  For others a conversation at lunch.
  • Never put an end date on your training for new hires.  Training never ends.  Perpetual training, mentoring, coaching…whatever you want to call it…fosters the greatest teams.
  • ?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have?


  • Order The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. If you already have it, read or reread it.
  • List all of your direct reports.  Schedule a reminder for each person this week to check in with them.
  • Consider having a weekly or bimonthly one-on-one meeting with each direct report.
  • When’s the last inservice you had?  Maybe it’s time to schedule another one.
  • Subscribe to my blog so you never miss a list of suggestions and tips for better leadership.


  • What variations or alterations would you suggest?


Thanks For Reading

Avoid The Biggest Mistake In Setting Goals

The boldness in declaring this The Biggest Mistake in goal setting, is from observations leading several hundred staff and facilitating tens of thousands of people in workshops, conferences, retreats and other personal development experiences in 16 years.

Like many people, I use to have terrible goals. In fact, they weren’t even goals at all.

I had a list of desires I was working towards accomplishing.


Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

Even using S.M.A.R.T. goals. ((see this post on Top Achievement for great information on setting SMART goals), I didn’t have good goals.  And my forward momentum reflected this.

For example;

  • I had a desire to get married.
  • I have a desire to raise kids that have happy marriages.
  • I have a desire to increase enrollment at events at work.

I’m not saying these are bad things to want. I’m saying I can’t accomplish them as goals.

  • I couldn’t getting married until someone wanted to marry me.
  • I can’t choose my kids spouse, nor can I choose the behaviors and decisions my kids or their spouses will one day make.
  • I can’t make more people come to an event at camp.

My goals use to rely on other people for success.  Which in turn really made them desires.

Now, I have goals for my desires.

Mark Batterson shares in his book, Circle Maker, that we pray as if it depends on God and work as if it depends on us.

For me, my desires are up to God to fulfill and my goals are up to me to accomplish, with God’s help of course.

My desire to get married. Is what I prayed for.
My goal was to better myself to become the person I wanted to marry wanted to marry. This is the work I did. And now I’m married to my best friend and the most beautiful woman of God I know.

My desire for my children to have successful marriages. Is what I pray for.
My goal: When I say, “I love you” to my wife, it’s only after I treat her in a way that shows her I love her; all in front of my kids, everyday. I remind myself daily; more is caught than is taught. This is the work I do.

My desire for increased enrollment at work is what I pray for.
My goal: Increase guest satisfaction at every encounter  by studying evaluations monthly looking for innovative solutions to improve quality of service, experience, communication, facilities and deliverables related to Mission and Core Values.  This is the work I do.


We Work Towards Goals, We Pray For Desires


  • If you haven’t, write down your goals.
  • Look at your written goals. Do they rely on someone else to accomplish them? If so, re-title your list Desires.
  • Pray hard for your desires, work hard for your goals.
  • Read the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson (affiliate link).
  • Review your Desires and Goals everyday.
  • Are you married? If so, do you and your wife share any desires for your marriage or, if you have any, your children? Pray together and work together. Couples who pray together stay together.
  • ?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have? Comment Below


  • If you don’t have time to work on this, schedule time on your calendar right now.
  • Write down 1 desire and then write 2 goals for that desire.


Thanks For Reading

Nothing Leads Like The Truth

This post appeared in Frontline Festival. A blog carnival full of wisdom and oozing practical leadership advice on leading frontline team members. Check it out. Frontline Festival

Every player on a NFL football team towers in size over the Referees.  But these “little” guys with their little yellow flags and little toy whistles have complete authority.


The players choose to give them authority.

99% of the time, the Referee sees and knows the truth because of their position in the game and knowledge of the rules.

As leaders, we should be asking for the authority to lead and then watch for and share the truth constantly.

Nothing moves people more effectively then truth. (I’m blushing, but can tweet that)


Courtesy of Brit_2 via @Flickr

Courtesy of Brit_2 via @Flickr


I train 30 college students every summer to be leaders at camp.

We spend the first 24 hours of training on one thing:


Build a bridge strong enough to bear the weight of truth..



  • Hire character over anything else. People with character tell the truth.
  • Model well, more is caught than is taught.
  • Train both sides of leadership.  Following well is part of the equation.  Don’t just teach leadership, teach following.  People need to learn how to tell the truth well and how to hear the truth with integrity.
  • Train your staff to take conversation the last 10%. Many leaders walk away from conversations thinking, “What I should have said was….”  If it’s not mean spirited, but is truth meant to build the bridge, say it!

?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have? Please Comment


  • Always tell the truth.
  • Remember training never ends. Keep the mindset of facilitator, coach, mentor, leader..whatever it takes to keep from thinking of yourself as supervisor, boss, in-charge, etc.
  • Get to know each persons Language of Appreciation in the Workplace and learn to speak these languages. I have found nothing that builds trust and strengthens relationship better. (affiliate link)
  • Spend time eating a meal with your team with no “shop talk” allowed. If you can, cook the meal together. This builds relationships
  • MBWA Manage By Walking Around.  Let your team see you doing your job, takes the mystery out of it.  It will be easier to trust you.
  • Don’t allow or participate in Gossip, ever.

?What other Tips and Suggestions Do You Have? Please Comment 


  • Resolve with a pre-decision to never lie, no matter what.
  • Write a mission statement for your leadership.
  • Write a letter to your team with goals and promises about your leadership. Imagine you will give it to them on their last day on your team.  Then, develop a plan to achieve the goals and meet the promises you make.
  • Read The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace
  • Find a mentor.

What variations or alterations would you suggest? Please Comment


Thanks For Reading

8 Leadership Principles I Used To Achieve Success…In Dropping 50 Pounds

update 1.27.15  Below I explore eight leadership principles from the workplace that are at play in my physical fitness life.  Why?  Leadership Happens Everywhere.  

However, I’ve also experienced the negative side of this lately.  Vision Leaks.  I lost sight of the goal, I started cutting corners, I let myself slide back into old habits.  Basically, I started using “I’m to busy doing things right”  as an excuse instead of “being busy doing the right things, right.”  So, do I give up?  Nah, that would be what a total loser would do.

I’m back on track.  Literally, I’m back to running.  

I’m making this update because in leadership, vision leaks…but that is no excuse to put some air back in the vision balloon.  It didn’t pop, it just lost some air.

The picture on the left is me weighing in at 270 pounds. On the right, 6 months later and down 50 pounds.

After working off 50 pounds

Here are the leadership principles at work.

Have The Right Goal:  I have a greater purpose now to get healthy. My 28 month old and 4 month old. My goal is to be healthy enough to do the things they want to do.  I never want to say that we can’t do something because I’m out of shape.  If my kids want to plan a 1 month backpacking trip, then I’m going to be able to do that.  A long-term goal is to run a half marathon on each of my kids 21st birthdays.  I’m 37…means I’ll be running a half marathon at 58.  I plan to run my first half marathon this coming October.

The Elephant Principle: You’ve probable heard this; How do you eat an elephant?  Answer.  One bite at a time.  My wife and I were aware that there were lots of things we needed to change in our lives to get healthy.  We worked diligently and made one small change at a time.  Pushed on the flywheel day after day to get it moving faster and faster.

You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure:  I’ve been using Weight Watchers Online For Men to track everything I eat.  I now just use what I learned from WW and I’m keeping track in a journal.  I can see my intake so I can make plans to cut back and save up points for an upcoming buffet “opportunity” or know I have to pass on one more slice of pizza.

Look Ahead, Plan and Prepare: My wife plans our weekly menu so I know what I’ll be eating when I get home from work.  This helps me make decisions throughout the day for my points “budget”.  I also plan what I’ll order at a restaurant before getting there.  This way, I’m not as likely to make negative impulse decisions.

Distractions Must Go:  We got rid of TV.  It’s amazing how much more we do together as a family, how much more we move and how much more of a social life we now have.

Take Ownership, Stop Blaming Others For Your Situations: I’m the only one who ever put food in my mouth.  I had to be honest with myself.  I have a problem with Gluttony.  So, I started to study the Bible to see what it says about Gluttony and self-control. I’ve approached this as an opportunity for spiritual growth and increased self-control. I’ve decided to let God handle the struggle side of getting in shape and I’ll handle the work side.

Get The Right People In The Right Seats:  I’m not a “detail” person.  My wife however…well, without her I’d be lost in this journey.

Do The Work: Notice I didn’t say “I’ve lost the weight”.   If something is lost, you don’t know where it is nor most likely how it got there. I didn’t lose weight.  I took control and got rid of it on my journey to be more healthy.

What is a workplace leadership principle you often see at work in your personal life?



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