Time, and therefore money, is wasted by leaders who continue to perform tasks and make decisions that they are over-qualified and over-paid to perform. They should be coaching their willing and able team members to be independent, critical decision-makers.
My research shows that leaders are not devolving decision-making authority to the level at which those decisions should be made, where people have the information needed to make the decision and are directly impacted.
These leaders are clogging up the decision-making pipeline and dis-enfranchising their employees who are unable to use their intelligence. And there is also the opportunity cost of the leader not being able to focus on strategic thinking, innovation and growing the business.
When my coaching clients start working with me, they commonly tell me that they are spending 30-40% of their time on work and decisions that their people should be doing. That’s 30-40% of their salary – or their whole package in fact. Think of the cost saving if they passed that to their team members, who could make decisions at a lower pay-grade. Think of your own package – if you are utilising 30% of your time to make decisions that your people should be making, how much does that cost your organisation? On top of that, the opportunity cost of not taking on more complex work and decisions means that you are with-holding huge amounts of value creation from your organisation; in the case of one person I worked with, in the region of £250,000 annually.
As David Marquet writes in Turn the Ship Around, when decision-making is part of your job description, you are less likely to be efficient if you are led; you need to be a leader yourself. That doesn’t mean that you need to be at the top of the hierarchy to lead – it means that you need a leader who uses a coach-approach to enable you to step up and make decisions that are commensurate with your pay-grade, your job description and your brain-power, so that you can lead from your particular seat.
The stats are astounding around retention, engagement, and wellbeing, as well as operational effectiveness; in just one year, he had turned that ship around.
Sweden’s Handelsbanken moved in the 1960s to a culture of devolved leadership, where important decisions are made at the point of responsibility. This transformed the bank and enabled it to weather the 2008 banking crisis like no other bank. By trusting that people want to do a good job, the bank experiences a quality of decision-making that is far better than in a command and control structure.
What would be possible if you treated every conversation, every interaction and every piece of work as an opportunity to engage your team members to become independent, critical decision-makers; to stretch those team members to do things they’ve never done before; and in doing so, creating growth for the individual and the organisation – and yourself?
Executive Coach and Coach Supervisor Clare Norman is based in Southampton and also works in London and Bournemouth. Clare works with clients who want to make high impact transitions from one company to another, from one role to another, and when stepping up to more senior leadership levels.
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Clare coaches passionate people to live their best story.