Direct Reports Can Stretch To Their Limits Or Play It Safe

No competent leader consciously micromanages or controls their direct reports’ activities.  Most leaders truly believe they give their direct reports ample autonomy to do their jobs.  Why is it then most direct reports feel their managers don’t give them the independence they need to do their jobs effectively?  It’s because sub-consciously leaders are reluctant to empower their direct reports and tend to micromanage without recognizing it.

Dr. James Dobson in Dare to Discipline relates the study where social psychologists observed elementary school children in a playground protected by a high fence. The children ran with abandon, playing joyfully within the confines of the fence, unaware and unworried about the busy street just a few feet from the play area. Some theorists decided that the fence was too restrictive, that it inhibited the children, and that they should have more freedom. So, the fence came down.

When the children entered the playground the next day, instead of running with their previous abandon, they tended to huddle together at the center of the play area. Unsure of their limits, they appeared insecure and fearful.

Empowerment works the same way.  Leaders need to consciously define and communicate the boundaries of their direct reports’ tasks, get out of the way, and the direct reports will use their whole playground.  There are four boundaries the leader should establish:

  1. expectations – what does success look like;
  2. resources – people, processes, budgeting available;
  3. timeframes – hours, deadlines, check-in points;
  4. restrictions – budgets, authority level, non-negotiables.

Leaders who consciously empower their direct reports by giving them the tools and boundaries to do their jobs, then step aside, experience more success.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Leadership, Performance Acceleration

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: