top of page
Podcast Transcript

Leadership Is NOT A DIY Job

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:10  
Welcome to "Your Authentic Path to Powerful Leadership" with Marsha Clark. Join us on this journey where we're uncovering what it takes to be a powerful woman leader. Marsha, welcome back yet again.

Marsha Clark  0:25  

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:26  
And okay, this is episode 47. We are not only inching our way towards our 50th episode, but a year - a year's worth of recordings! Awesome. It's so exciting. Yes.

Marsha Clark  0:39  
So! Just letting that sink in for a minute. It is very exciting. So if you even told me that two years ago, I'm sorry, that's where my mind went, whether we'd be here. I'm not sure I'd have believed you.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  0:52  
I know, I know. Yes, podcast was not a sticky note on the wall in your house.

Marsha Clark  0:59  
You know, I've always been a voracious leader. But before we started doing these, I'd never listened to podcasts. So I had, you know, zero experience with them. And then we started talking about doing one and here we are!

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:11  
And here we are almost a year into this process with a successful, very successful weekly podcast that has an audience that is just growing and growing.

Marsha Clark  1:21  
You know, as you're talking, I'm realizing how how perfectly this is setting up today's episode called, you know, our title "Leadership is NOT a DIY Job" or do it yourself job. And I could never pull this podcast off without doing the very things we're going to talk about in today's show.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:39  
Yes, you are so right. I mean, this is an example of using your delegation tools, creating capacity in others and learning opportunities and growth opportunities for others. And those are the main topics for today. And I love it when our content is mirroring real life in real time.

Marsha Clark  1:58  
Me too, me too, me too!

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  1:59  
Yes, so let's start with the title. When we say leadership is not a DIY job, what are you meaning by that?

Marsha Clark  2:09  
I feel like I'm on one of those, you know, home...

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  2:13  
Yeah. HGTV?

Marsha Clark  2:16  
Yes, but what it means is that when you become a leader, when you're promoted to that official, you know, role with a leader in your title, your focus shifts, of course, from being an individual performer, and that's someone who is solely responsible for completing certain tasks or projects and solving problems and so on. And so as a leader, your responsibility shifts from the doing of the tasks (so individual contributor equals doing) to ensuring the task gets done, (leader equals ensuring not doing) right, and specifically that you're getting it done through others. And so as I say in the book, "Embracing Your Power", you don't have to do it yourself.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:04  
Right. Therefore, leadership is not a do it yourself job.

Marsha Clark  3:08  
That's right. That's right. So by definition, a leader is getting the job done with and by engaging others.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  3:17  
Yep. So you mentioned in your book, "Embracing Your Power", and I want our listeners to know that if you have your own copy of the book and you're in this episode, we're going to be focused on the section in chapter six called Setting and Maintaining Boundaries, and specifically around the delegation tools starting on page 193. So if that isn't a... I mean, if you don't have the book, and if that isn't a prompt, I don't know what it is.

Marsha Clark  3:46  
And, you know, it is helpful. You always do that for us, Wendi, and I appreciate that. I also want to add that we introduced the topic of delegating, really, introduction of the book under the foundational elements. And, you know, this idea of element number eight is about creating capacity in others. And it's one of my personal mantras as a leader and I firmly believe that it is the primary responsibility of every leader to help others learn and grow and achieve in order to get to their career aspirations. And my warning to women in that intro is that we're used to taking care of or coordinating all the activities pertaining to our results, and that we can be incredibly perfectionistic in our pursuit of those results.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:35  
Yeah, I seem to recall that's pretty much where you evoke the Elsa rule.

Marsha Clark  4:40  
Oh, no, that's a new one. What is the Elsa rule?

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  4:42  
Well, you used to tell us that we all need to 'let it go'.

Marsha Clark  4:49  
No, I am not singing... Alright, so that's exactly what I say in that part of the book is that we need to learn to let go of that need to do it all, to take it all on. And then we have to let go and share knowledge, the knowledge with and develop skills in and provide coaching and feedback to others so that they can continue to grow and take on more responsibility.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  5:13  
Yeah, I love the questions that you ask there. One is, how can we learn to delegate and hold other people accountable? And then a second one is, how can we let someone do it their way and be okay with that, right?

Marsha Clark  5:28  
That's right. Those are two very important key questions, and they're perfect as setups for our conversation today.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  5:33  
So let's start like we often do and share a definition of delegation for our listeners. And this comes straight out of the book. And I love how simple and clear this definition is. So "To delegate is to commit or entrust to another. Delegation is a tool for developing others, giving them an opportunity to gain knowledge and perspective, planning and follow through skills and the importance of communication and accountability".

Marsha Clark  6:07  
Yeah, a lot of good stuff in there about leadership, and that definition has evolved from several sources. So and I want to give credit to, that it includes the Reina's trust model. And that first sentence of 'to delegate is to commit or entrust to another', that speaks to the central role that trust plays in effective delegation. It's really an outward sign that I trust you to take on and complete the task or project that I'm delegating. So in the Reina Three Dimensions of Trust model, delegation is specifically called out as a behavior indicating, in this case, trust of character, which as a quick refresher means basically, I trust you to do what you say you're going to do when you say you're going to do it, right. So delegating is a reflection that I trust that you will do what you have promised me you will do. And while we're on the Reina model, I also think that delegation directly touches on the dimension of trusting capability, which means that I trust that you have the knowledge, skills and abilities to meet your agreements, at least to the degree that I'm delegating the project or test to you. And that thoughtful delegation is more than just, you know, handing off tasks to your team, it means that you're considering and weighing the skill levels, the developmental needs of your entire team, as you determine which tasks and projects can and should be delegated to whom.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  7:41  
So I can see how delegation and trust are so closely related. I mean, it's not just from the obvious common sense perspective, but from a deeper theoretical perspective, ie, if I don't trust your character or your competence, then I'm naturally going to have a really hard time delegating to you.

Marsha Clark  8:02  
That's the exact right point. That's the one we're trying to make here. And it's important for us as leaders to understand why we may be hesitant to delegate to certain team members. Is it a trust issue, or for some leaders, it could be about style or speed, I can do it faster myself, you know. The challenge for those leaders is more about learning to stop themselves from taking over someone else's assignment and finish the rest of the work for themselves simply because they can do it in less time, or do it the way I want.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  8:02  
Yeah, I'm hearing "let it go" again, in my head.

Marsha Clark  8:38  
Yeah, and you're not alone on that. Wendi. I mean, I think most of us can relate to this, there's a lot of hesitancy for not delegating. And it has to do with impatience or perfectionism. And we have to learn to let that go. And I just want to make this point to people, the I can do it in less time. If I say that about 50% of the projects that I saw, and I multiply the seven minutes that I saved doing it, this one, or whatever, and I look at how much time I have to put into it, and I multiply it. That's a huge amount of time. (Exactly.) Pay me now, or pay me later. Right? And if you pay me later, it's gonna be a lot more.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  9:17  
A lot more cost. Yes. And so while we're on the topic of not delegating, do you have any other examples of why leaders don't delegate?

Marsha Clark  9:27  
Yeah, another big one is that I see from the coaching work that I do is that tendency for leaders to get stuck in their comfort zone of whatever they did best before they were promoted. So I got a lot of kudos for this. I was a superstar programmer. And now I've been promoted to manager of other programs. And, you know, I may prefer to still spend my time, you know, programming or debugging the system because it gives me a great sense of accomplishment, doing that thing I was known and well respected for and if I'm struggling to figure out this whole thing manager thing, I'm gonna drift back into that place where I feel most competent. And, it's example of the principle that's known as, you know what got you here, which was, you know, checking things off the to do list in programming and debugging won't get you there because leadership is its own profession.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  9:27  

Marsha Clark  9:28  
And I want to, I'm going to age myself yet again on this this podcast. But one of the things I learned when I went into leadership, so back in the days before we had email and all the other things that we have available to us, we had inboxes. The inbox was on the top left corner of my desk, the outbox was on the top right corner. The measure of my day as an individual contributor was, "Did I take everything that was in my inbox when I got here this morning and was it in my outbox at the end of the day?" But that was how I measured my work. The height of the stack, and I don't care if it was three feet high, I would like to have it all in my outbox because you know what, there'll be another three foot stack tomorrow, right? Right. And that's the way I measured my work. When I went into leadership. I didn't have an inbox and outbox. I had a never ending, you know, whirlwind of things coming and going at me all the time. And there wasn't a piece of paper that measured my productivity, my performance, my effectiveness. And that's a part of, even though that's an old fashioned metaphor, the thinking still works today. It's true today.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  11:29  
Absolutely. And it's a big shift in thinking. So these people who were programmers, and now they're a manager of other programmers, as our example, they're not delegating, because...

Marsha Clark  11:42  
Well, partly because they may not know how to delegate effectively. And that's, I mean, if we've never done it before, why should we be expected to know how to do it? And because the tests or projects they could delegate, they choose to hold on to because at least they can feel productive (inbox, outbox) and valuable. That's a more tangible contribution. So it's their way of still being able to contribute to the results of the group.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:10  
Ah, so it's not necessarily because we're trying to keep the prime projects for ourselves?

Marsha Clark  12:17  
Well, again, I give people the benefit of the doubt. So, you know, not in this case. I think that's a whole different breach of character trust, you know, in the 'hurray for me' category, but so we'll just leave that right there.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:29  
Right. Well, I mean, it's a important clarification.

Marsha Clark  12:32  
It is. It is. So for the purposes of today's conversation, let's assume some positive intent for our imaginary leaders, if you will. They just don't have the benefit of knowing how to delegate effectively. So those are the people we're going to help today.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  12:46  
Exactly. And you offer two very helpful tools in this chapter. One is the delegate-check-review triangle model. And the second one is the checks and balances tool. So let's walk through both of those tools so our listeners can use them in their own leadership journey.

Marsha Clark  13:06  
That's right, in that same chapter. Yes. So let's start with the delegate-check-review triangle, triangle or pyramid, whatever works for you. This is one that I adapted from my a framework of what I would call graphics and phrases, that when brought together were called model-netics. Okay, and I learned these some 40 years ago, again, aging myself. So you know, Wendi, you know this delegate-check-review model so why don't you describe it, and then I'll unpack it for our listeners.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  13:45  
I love it. Okay, so the model, picture everyone who's listening, the shape of a triangle that's divided horizontally, top to bottom in three segments. So the bottom largest segment of the triangle is labeled delegate-check-review. The middle segment is labeled delegate-review. So we dropped the word "check" from the middle segment. And then the top segment is simply labeled delegate.

Marsha Clark  14:12  
Very nicely done. Awesome. So we'll start at the bottom of the triangle where delegate, check and review are part of that level. And as we say, in the book, this approach is pretty straightforward. So you delegate the task, and you provide your requirements and your expectations as you delegate. You also assign authority levels as a part of that. And then you check the progress and the adherence or alignment to the requirements and expectations. There was some sort of cadence of periodic meeting. And last, you're going to review the output or results before sending it to the client, the boss, the colleague or stakeholder whoever requested the task or project in the beginning.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  14:58  
Okay, there's something critical that's worth repeating. You said that when you initially delegate the task or project, you also provide the requirements and expectations. That's such an important part of effective delegating and I'm not sure that everyone does that, or does it well. They tend to just, 'Here, Fred, do the thing.' You know,

Marsha Clark  15:23  
On my desk by Friday, on my desk by Friday. So I agree with you. And for leaders who struggle with delegating effectively, many times that breakdown is in that very first or initial discussion around the expectations and requirements. And that's one of the main reasons that I include the checks and balance tool in this chapter as a related support tool. Because for me, it helps take some of the guesswork out of how to set both my team and myself up for success when it comes to delegating. And the other thing I want to add here is that if I'm not clear on requirements and expectations and therefore don't get what I wanted, then I can say, well, I shouldn't have delegated it anyway. So you know, I kind of affirm my beliefs that I shouldn't do, you know, that I can do this better myself. And so that's a wash out. So if I'm not giving those requirements and expectations and setting authority levels, and so on, that's not a delegation problem. That's a communication problem.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  16:21  
Thank you. Yes, absolutely. Preach. Okay. So before we share the checks and balances tool, you include some other important considerations for leaders to help them determine when and why they might choose, you know, which specific or this level of delegation and oversight versus the other two that don't include 'check' in the step process. So will you share some of those variables?

Marsha Clark  16:48  
Yeah and this is where helping a leader know what to delegate and under what conditions, so it helps us get clearer and more intentional there. So I offer four different situations to consider as you decide if you need to include this additional step of checking in the delegation approach. So again, from the book, the first question I ask, "Is this a long term project?" and this kind of project is one that might require more research, more activities, or meetings or, you know, functions, departments, people, you know, it's big, and it's more complex. So by setting up a cadence of periodic meetings and checkpoints, then I can ensure that the project stays on course, relative to the ultimate time and delivery. Because if it's long term, you know, you can get far afield. A frequent cadence, even if it does get far afield, less correcting, to get back on course. So that's the value and benefit of asking myself this question. And it results in less rework, if you will. The second question, I would ask, "Is it a high visibility project?" So are you going to have a lot of senior level people or clients or community, marketplace? Are people going to be interested in tracking the progress or status of this project? And if so, you want to ensure a frequent and thorough check and review process so that when they do peek in, it's what they want to see, expect to see or are impressed.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  18:22  
Right. And again, frequent check ins so that you're not getting too far off into the weeds.

Marsha Clark  18:29  
That's right. And then the third consideration is whether the project is considered high risk.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  18:35  
Okay, what do you mean by high risk?

Marsha Clark  18:38  
So a project can be high risk, if it's complex, right, again, a lot of moving parts. Another high risk definition is you've never done anything like it, could be that you have fewer experienced people involved, it could be that there are several groups, clients or teams involved, or if it's got a big budget and you've got to stay within that budget. So the amount of risk is relative to the organization's revenue or size, however you might want to, you know, measure that. And what's high risk to one organization may be low risk to another. So once again, the answer is to that question is it depends, but you're going to have to determine whether your particular project is a high risk one or not given these different conditions.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  19:27  
Right. And the fourth consideration is one that I found really helpful and relevant, especially with this example that you've just provided.

Marsha Clark  19:36  
Well, I can see why that might have been relevant for you. If you think about it, it describes our situation with the podcast. Pretty, pretty spot on. Yeah, so the fourth question for us to consider as you're trying to decide on your delegation approaches, "Are you working with new people?"

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  19:51  
Yes and so it's specifically with the podcast situation while Marsha and I have worked together, I mean, I went through her Power of Self Program, that dynamic was almost flipped. Marsha was the subject matter expert for the program. And Wendi is the subject matter expert on podcasting production. And so, you know, probably I wasn't going to let this scenario be high risk. But yet, you know, Marsha didn't really know that because she and I had never worked on a project together so...

Marsha Clark  20:23  
Well, and even if you think about podcasts, they haven't been around, say, exactly, you know, there's still a whole lot of new, right. But let's talk about the two kinds of new people. So the first kind includes those that you've worked with, but who may not have done this kind of work. So they may have related experience, or maybe they've done similar projects that were smaller in scope. So let me call out Tracie Shipman who writes our production. I know Tracie. Tracie's won every Toastmaster award speaking. She has done public speaking 1000 times over, she helped us develop the Power of Self Program. She knows this content. She knows my voice. She and I have worked together for 30 plus years. So she is a perfect example of this kind of person. I know them. I've worked with them. They've done related things for me. But she's never written a podcast production set of notes before.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  21:20  

Marsha Clark  21:20  
So we already had that great relationship. So my, you know, once we decided to do the podcast, those early tests that you as the program producer, and her as my ... were giving me and my team definitely required all three steps of that delegate, check and review. My staff and I had zero experience working on podcasts. So you had to be more hands on in the process early on.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  21:46  
Yep, absolutely. Perfect example.

Marsha Clark  21:49  
And so, you know, when we think then about wrapping up these considerations and there are two kinds of new people, the first one is people you know that are new to the project task. Now, the second kind is someone who's completely new to you. Zach, our editor, right? I didn't know Zach.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  22:07  
Zach, you're getting called out!

Marsha Clark  22:09  
So they've done similar work for other people and editing and podcasts and yet, they could be in another part of the organization, another even a different organization like Zach has his own, you know, world. And the difference here is that you've never worked with them directly and are doing so for the first time. So the bottom line is that regardless of the delegation situation, I want to set up an appropriate check and review process, because I've don't know, on this subject, on this topic, in this process, these people.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  22:37  
Exactly. So this is the perfect time to introduce our listeners to the checks and balances tool. And you present it in the book as something that can help with this approach to delegation because it provides these additional levels of accountability, and clarity with the check and review steps of the model.

Marsha Clark  22:59  
Yeah, so this is another tool. And I've used this, I created this, I've used it for a long time, many, many years. And what it does, it allows you to share with the boss, the client, stakeholder, whoever it might be, the status of the project at (and this is important) an executive level view, as well as allowing you to review with your assigned project leader, whoever this person that you've delegated to, so you have adequate and timely information to ensure effective project tracking, and even periodic, you know, potential reviews with your boss to let them know you're on top of the project. And I've found that this tool helps leaders increase their confidence as they delegate to their team members, because they know they're going to check on it. The caveat to that is the leaders who use it most effectively and get the best results are the ones who follow a routine cadence. So every week, not every week, and then you cancel every other week, but putting the tool into their regularly scheduled meetings. And you know, the other benefit I want our listeners to hear is that by using this tool consistently in our cadence meetings, you now have information for an entire performance period, whether the person is doing or not doing what they say they're going to do so your trust can be increased with patterns over time or not, depending on how they're doing. And you don't just have the recency effect of what did you do for me last week, you have a longer period of time to truly evaluate a more comprehensive view of that person's performance.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  24:41  
Absolutely. And it gives you ammunition if you will to take to your boss to validate this is why this project was effective. This is why I am worthy of a performance review or potential raise or promotion, etc, etc. So it goes both ways. Yeah, yeah. So for our listeners who don't have your book, (Oh, shame on you) this tool is designed as a four quadrant grid. So imagine a table with four boxes stacked two by two on top of each other. So the top left box is labeled "What did I accomplish in this period?" and this period, you know, can be a week. Hopefully, it's no more than every other week, that kind of thing, whatever the period is, for the check in. Top right box is labeled "What are my objectives for the next period?" Bottom left box asks, "What are my challenges, issues and obstacles?" And then the bottom right box asks, "What are the key metrics and progress to date?" so key metrics and progress to date. So, Marsha, you explained that this tool is intended to be a one page document.Tell us why that one page is important.

Marsha Clark  25:54  
Yeah, I strongly recommend that as the leader who's delegating projects to your team members, you keep this process as simple as possible. And if you stick to using the grid as a one page checkpoint, it helps ensure that you're not micromanaging the project or getting too much into the weeds. But by using this consistent format, review meetings are typically more efficient and more effective and you get the critical information you need and are less likely to get distracted by the extraneous information. Now, I want to say something else here about this, this idea of, you're also teaching people executive level presentation skills. And you tell your person or your team, if you're going to use this with multiple projects and things, I'm not micromanaging. I'm doing the check and balance to ensure that we all stay on the same page to reduce, you know, rework or misalignment or falling short of people's expectations. So you are transparent about your reasoning. And you're teaching people how to think and even plan their work because if you're telling me what you're going to work on next week, and I say, Oh, that's not where I would go, I can now coach and we can have a discussion about that. So you're not going off into next week and have to wait until you've done it all, you know, for our meetings on Friday. All of a sudden you come to ... what I would have thought so you're looking at the past, you're sitting in the present and you're planning for the future.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  27:33  
Absolutely. And so what I'm imagining if I was the leader of the team, I would have this one pager a fresh blank sheet every week. Yep. And then you've got a historical account of how this project went from start all the way to finish. Okay, so I can see how sticking with just these four questions on a consistent basis, would ensure that you and your employees are staying clear on expectations, metrics, progress, etc. And especially in those situations you listed before, if the stakes are high risk, you know, it's high visibility, that kind of project. And these questions would make me feel so much more confident that I knew what was going on with my team. They're clear about how they're doing. And I'm completely and clearly and accurately reporting up to my superior also.

Marsha Clark  28:30  
And our meetings are much more structured. And can be a lot shorter.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  28:35  
And we won't have to hit 27 reply to all email threads.

Marsha Clark  28:39  
Yes. So what you're describing is exactly what we wanted to happen, right, to increase the communication and the confidence, those are the outputs or the outcomes, when everyone involved is using this process and these tools. And so you did a great job, thank you very much, walking through the high level two by two grid. And, you know, let me offer up a couple more details that we include in the book just so that we put a little more meat on the bones of the model.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  29:05  
Go ahead.

Marsha Clark  29:05  
Alright. So in that quadrant one, which is in that top left corner, we answer the question, What did I accomplish this period? So what we're looking for there might be the research that I've completed, the processes that got documented, key meetings that I had, key milestone deliverables, and what I would describe as any critical path item. And if you don't, aren't familiar with that term, it's things that have to get completed before the next task is completed. So I'm on this path and I've got to get past this thing before I can get to the next thing. And so that gives you the chance to operate and think about it at that level of detail. And you don't... I had key meetings with Joe, Jennifer, Bob, Susie, you know, Ted, and you would talk through what those meetings were, but not go into enormous detail. Right. All right. So then in quadrant two, this is where we ask what are my objectives for the next period. So what we're capturing here are those objectives or tasks for the coming week, the things that we're going to need to accomplish to keep the project on schedule. And I want our listeners to also understand if everything's on track, then ideally week to week or bi-week to bi-week, what was in quadrant two moves to quadrant one.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  30:33  
Ah, the next week. I love it, right?

Marsha Clark  30:35  
Here's what I worked on. Did I get it done or did I not get it done? So now, I'm not only getting an update on the project, I'm understanding, do you know how to estimate projects, the time required to do things? Do you do what you say you're gonna do? So can I trust you when you tell me that you're gonna get something done? And if it doesn't get done, then we have an opportunity to talk through that and see what needs to happen.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:00  
Exactly. So, Marsha, if a task or an objective from quadrant two doesn't get moved and completed on time, what happens?

Marsha Clark  31:10  
So we're not going to move it to quadrant one.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:13  
Yeah, right, on the next week.

Marsha Clark  31:15  
So what I would say is, keep it in quadrant two, highlight it with a color, an asterisk or something and note briefly what happened. Why was it delayed? Why did it not get done? And if you highlight or place that asterisk on it, I'm going to look at that a little more closely. And...

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  31:36  
Yeah, I'm thinking that this is a, this is an item for quadrant three, like there's a possible challenge or issue or obstacle, right?

Marsha Clark  31:44  
That's right, I wanted you to cue that up for me. Beautifully done. Because if it didn't get done that challenge, obstacle, whatever it might be, is now the conversation for quadrant three. So anything that prevents objectives from being achieved gets highlighted there. Now, there's two questions I'm going to ask or two things I want to get clear about in quadrant three. So I recommend that when the person that I've delegated to the project leader reviews it, and they share what they've done to address the challenge. So if they say this is a challenge, I'm going to say what have you done? So the project leader needs to make sure that they're not waiting, you know, for others to solve their problems for them. So what I mean by that is, well, you know, I needed to get information from Joe and Joe didn't get it to me on time. Right. So that's the, what happened? What have you done in being able to get the information from Joe? Well, I wrote him three emails. Well, I'm gonna ask, did you pick up the phone? Did you walk two cubicles down? Or down the hall? Or, you know, even if it's across the building? Did you tell Joe how important it was and that this project is being held up and how you're relying on him to get you that information? Did you ask Joe if there was another way you could get that information? Was there someone else you could... I mean, all of those things. So this gives me an opportunity to coach that person. So this is when we're delegating for developmental reasons. I'm helping that person learn critical thinking and problem solving skills. And I'm hoping that that will reduce the number of future obstacles. So if you're the boss or client, this is where you want to maintain your boundaries and hold your project leader accountable and further develop their skills, not finishing the work for them. So review the podcast episodes on setting and maintaining boundaries. Because if they bring you the problem and you solve it for them every time, that's your reward. You get to solve all the problems for them.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  33:59  
Yeah, exactly. Yes, yes. Yes. So I love that you also recommend to the client, boss or the stakeholder that they ask the project leader what they need from you to address the challenge or issue and I love that, you know, that's the kind of the next flavor of what you were just describing. Okay, yes, you've sent Jim three emails or Joe or whoever it was, you know, three emails, in addition to did you call? Did you go walk down there? Whatever. Did you ask Joe what his obstacle is because that may be the thing. Joe may not be responding because Joe's got an obstacle in front of him. But we need to know about that as the team.

Marsha Clark  34:44  
Yeah. And I think, too, that this is the place where let's just say you've done all the things that you know to do. The question of what do you need from me is not me taking on the problem. It's prompting the person that I've delegated the task to to think about how to engage me. Because let's be real, sometimes my greater positional power might be required. Put a little heat on Joe. Yeah, right. Or it might be that I have a relationship with Joe, you know, or Joe's boss, right? And I've got to play to that relationship to say, I know you've got a lot of things going on. I know you've got your own deadlines. I know you've got your own projects. I really need you on this. Can we do something? Can I send somebody over to help pull the data? Whatever the right, you know, the need might be, but I want you to think about how to use me not just expect me to do it for you. (Yeah.) That's the real key I think around that.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  35:46  
And I think it's important to point out that that helps your team lead feel supported.

Marsha Clark  35:52  
Yes, that's right. That's exactly right. So you know, then we're going to go to quadrant four. So let's, the last set of questions from quadrant four, that's really about the metrics and the progress to date. So what I would offer to our listeners here is that we're looking for key measures. So whether you call them KPIs (key performance indicators), or quantitative metrics, or whatever it might be, but for progress or success towards project completion, and as I said, it may be percentages of, you know, percentage of completion or percentage of responses or whatever. It could be where we are in the budget, right? Because that's a quantitative metric. Am I getting close to budget numbers and I'm only a third of the way through the project? Uh oh, we're in trouble, kind of thing. Are you doing things on time and meeting deadlines? You know, are you requiring more resources? Are you requiring more overtime, all of those key deliverables based upon what we've agreed upon as success factors. And, you know, ideally, I also want to point this out, this goes back to have I given my requirements and expectations when I delegated this project. So we want to identify. It doesn't mean that we're not going to learn a few new ones along the way. But we would have some idea about, you know, these are the questions of start with the end in mind, or what would success look like? Or how will we measure whether... those are the upfront questions that we want to get clear. And, you know, we want to make sure that we have everyone's view and we have aligned what those success factors are.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  37:24  
Right. Okay. So in the book, you offer a few final thoughts around the use of this checks and balances tool, and one of them felt especially powerful for me. And that was the idea that using this tool actually builds trust. Can you talk more about that?

Marsha Clark  37:43  
Yeah, we touched on it in a couple of places. So this is a great tool for building trust in terms of managing expectations, which is one of the behaviors required for building trust, following through on commitments, another trust behavior, and this accountability regarding an employee's performance. It tracks, or it builds a track record of reliable performance, and I often say, dot, dot or not. So are you doing what you say you're going to do? Are you holding yourself accountable? Are you going the extra mile? Are you sharing the information required for others to help you? All of those are about the trust building behaviors.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  37:43  
Okay, so all of this content that we've just been talking about, listeners, was on the base level of the triangle pyramid. So now we're going to turn our attention to that second level or approach of delegating on our model, which is just delegate-check. So we took off the review step, what's going on on this level, Marsha?

Marsha Clark  38:22  
Yeah. We're gonna get through these fast because the bottom one's the hard one, and the most you know, complicated and detailed. Yeah. So. So with the delegate check, you delegate the task or project and you provide, again, requirements and expectations, always a requirement. And you still set up the cadence of periodic meetings to check on the progress. And you know, are you aligning and adhering to the requirements and expectations. But the difference here is that I'm comfortable enough with the person to whom I've delegated this task or project, as well as what I'm seeing in our periodic checkpoints, that I don't have to review every output before it's shared with any stakeholder group.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  39:23  
Okay, so how do these variables differ between this approach, this mid-tier approach, and the base level approach?

Marsha Clark  39:30  
So if you think about, you know, is it a long term project, high risk, high visibility, all those kinds of things? This is kind of mid level, mid level, you know, risk, mid level visibility, and so on and so forth. So, people often say, "Well, what's the difference between long and midterm?' So more than a month, but less than than three months is what I would say is medium or average visibility, maybe just one or two stakeholder groups involved in oversight or receiving the output and you know, as we said before, you're likely working with familiar people or people with whom you've worked that have the expertise and you trust them on this particular type of project.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  40:09  
That totally makes sense. So top of the pyramid, the final level of approach to delegation is simply called delegate. I love this word. So how is this different?

Marsha Clark  40:20  
Yeah, this to me is the leadership nirvana. Yeah. So and this one, I'll be honest, I have used rarely because I have so many different people, projects, clients, all that kind of stuff. But these are tasks or projects where you delegate them and then you basically practically forget about them, right? So and these examples  include delegating to people - and you know my phrase on this - that you know, love and trust. I know them well. I know their capabilities. I know their reliability. I know their commitment. I love them for being the people that they are whether because they do have all those attributes and I trust that they're going to do what they say they're going to do. So, you know, the variables to consider this level are is it an  immediate task or project with some sort of short turnaround? If somebody calls up or sends me an email and says, 'Can you send me the blah, blah, blah', you know what, in my case, I can give it to Misty or Natalie and say, please send them the blah, blah, blah, right? And I don't follow up and worry about that. Is it a low visibility task or project so that maybe it's only one person that needs the information or whatever it is we're producing? Is it a low risk? It's familiar, it's routine, it's readily available information. And then are you delegating the task or project to someone you trust, you know, and that means you have a positive track record with them. You know that they're going to follow through with quality work and results, and they have a lot of experience doing this work. So if the answers to all those questions are yes, then delegate away.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  41:55  
I love it. I love it. Yeah, you know, some podcast episodes that we do, Marsha, are just so gratifying. I love the ones where we give our listeners concrete, relevant resources and tools and this episode really lasered in on the topic of delegation and explored two of the tools from your book. So what are some final words of wisdom around delegation that you'd like to share?

Marsha Clark  42:21  
So one of the more challenging transitions to make, in the experience that I have received from programming, leading teams of many sizes and shapes and forms, and the women I hear from in the program is that challenging transition, going from personally solving problems to ensuring that problems get solved. And what I will tell you is that typically, this happens from senior manager to director or director to VP. That's where it really, if I can't move away from and let it go, I'm going to get stuck. So recognize your role as the leader. And when you delegate tasks, you're likely going to free up some time on your calendar, right, because I'm not having to do all the research or the menial, whatever. And what I want to say to our listeners is, when you free up that time, be very deliberate in deciding how you're going to use that time. Because the goal is not just to give up time, it's to be able to work on things that are your work as a leader to do. And more than likely, those are going to be strategic things, right, not operational, or task based or tactical kinds of things. And then one last thing I'd like to be sure and reinforce is that the leaders who will stand the test of time are the ones who know that being a leader is not a do it yourself job, who really understand the value of delegating, not just to get it off your to do list or it's something that you don't want to do, but truly as a developmental tool. And I'm going to challenge our listeners, if you will. I think there are two places where you can look to delegate something.

One is meetings. So if there are two or more levels of the same organization in a meeting, do all two or three of you need to be in that meeting or can you... let's just say I'm the more senior person and you, Wendi, you and I go to the same meeting, you know, every week on blah, blah, blah. Well, I'm going to say, all right, Wendi, I want you to start going to this meeting. I'm going to get in touch with the meeting organizer and I'm going to say in the spirit of improving productivity and developing Wendi I'm no longer going to attend this meeting. So it's not just don't show up because that you know, everybody else at your level shows up. You're very specific, transparent and intentional about that. And so, I also want you to know that I've extended Wendi the authority to make decisions on behalf of our department. And I'm going to tell you that. And so I'm going to, the first thing I'm going to do is we're going to go to the meeting, and we're going to debrief after the meeting, and I'm going to let you know what I heard from the meeting, and so on and so forth. And then I'm going to delegate to you that in our regular weekly update meeting you're going to update at, and you can tell me, here's the things I want to know from you, what decisions got made in the meeting? What assignments were given to our department or function? And what are next steps, and anything else you think I need to know. But here's what happens. The meeting lasts an hour. For you to update me in an already existing meeting might add, you know, five minutes to that meeting, or might not add anything to that meeting. So all of a sudden, I've got an hour back on my calendar every week. That's four hours a month. So that's the opportunity where I get four hours back, or even if it's three hours, because it takes 15 minutes to update me or whatever. But I got that, what am I going to do with that. So that's that one. The second example that I would challenge our listeners with is, are there reports or tasks that are pretty routine and rote that I could delegate to someone to give them perhaps a bigger perspective about the work we do in our department, or how our work is impacting another department's work as we hand it off. So it's another developmental opportunity. And I think both of those are great places to start with delegating.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  46:46  
I love, love, love the idea of stop sending two or three people from your department that are at various levels, find the person for whom it's a developmental opportunity, maybe allow the junior person to go every once in a while just to be in the room and have the exposure. But that is phenomenal. Like you don't have to be there expressing your opinion at every single, every time one of these happens, especially if you've got somebody that you're developing, that you trust, that has that ability to step into that role and then do the delegate-check. That's all it is. It's delegate-check. (That's right). Um, I love that I mean, Marsha, God, this was a great conversation with some really concrete, you know, tasks and tools to use.

Marsha Clark  47:48  
Well, and I think we as leaders owe it to our people and to our organizations and really to ourselves to use this delegation as a truly intentional mechanism for developing our people, creating others, building then greater capacity in the organization, and really leveraging the talent that we've been entrusted with to deliver those results. And, again, that in my opinion, is the ultimate responsibility of leaders.

Wendi McGowan-Ellis  48:14  
Yep. Totally agree, Marsha, what a great conversation. Great conversation. So thank you, listeners, for joining us today on this journey of authentic powerful leadership. Please download, subscribe and share this podcast. This is a shareable. This one is a big shareable for your teams, for your junior, your people who report to you. This one's a big shareable, and visit Marsha's website at for links to all the tools or the resources we talked about today. Subscribe to her email list and check out, if you don't have it, please get her latest book "Embracing Your Power" off of the site or Amazon.

Marsha Clark  48:58  
That's exactly right. We'd love to be of value to you to offer, you know, the educational aspect. This is an educational podcast. There's no doubt about it. That's what we're trying to accomplish here. And we appreciate not just offering these things up to you, but we'd love to hear from you. We're in this together as leaders, we're in this together as women. So as always, here's to women supporting women!

bottom of page