A leadership paradox: delegation versus modeling

In a Group Dynamic workshop, we devote a lot of time to the value of modeling — behaving the way we want members of the team to behave.  We also talk about the value of delegation.  There are two big benefits to delegation of tasks:

  1. Helping members of the team feel valued, included, and empowered (leading to greater productivity and investment).
  2. Delegation frees the leader to do things that require the specialized abilities of the leader.

If we are supposed to model behaviors that we want to see from our team, but we’re also supposed to ensure that our time is well-spent on the things that we are experts on, don’t we run into these two concepts in conflict?

Can you think of an example?

4 thoughts on “A leadership paradox: delegation versus modeling

  1. Good question. This is a concept I have struggled with. I want to focus on business strategy and where we’re headed. I do what I can to avoid being interrupted, thus creating more space for myself to be most effective. And while being effective is something worth modeling, having others in the company isolate themselves when they should be handling customer service issues is not a good idea.

  2. Potentially these concepts contradict each other, but at the same time they are complementary. If a leader models both knowing their limits and not needing to micro-manage every task by doing it themselves, delegation is an effective and potentially very positive complement to modeled leadership.

  3. That is a awesome posting on this topic. I personally liked the way you have expained the thoughts above. Appreciate it a lot for an extremely good writeup. Do you have more content on leadership in IT. I am keen on understanding this topic more from IT perspective and would like to appreciate your time and efforts.

    • I’d refer you to Jeffrey’s comment, as he works in an environment similar to IT. In an IT department, there is lots of room for modeling and working alongside folks because of the inherent similarities in work functions.

      A bigger concern in IT, imho, is the isolation that Jeff refers to. IT workers tend to prefer working alone, though most are quite willing to be team players. An important thing to model is the value of coming together to share ideas, even if it’s just an informal “here’s what I’m working on this week.” Because of the isolating nature of the work, people might be surprised to discover that they’re working just a few feet from someone who can help solve their problem.

      I hope you find those thoughts helpful. Feel free to contact me personally if you’d like to chat about it more. Thanks for engaging.

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