Good leaders know that words impact your ability to influence. Or not. Certain words take the
oompf out of the message. Words like “just” minimizes your main point. “Kind of” sounds like you don’t
believe in what you’re saying. “I guess” does not portray confidence.
Wiggle-room words can confuse and disempower. Direct communication is a leadership power tool.
Sometimes we use these words to soften the blow, only to find that the person on the other end has no
idea what we’re getting at.
Speaking clearly, without hidden meaning or mixed messages, is a gift to the person on the other side of
the dialogue. More words to be careful of below:
Overwhelmed team leaders and managers: are you delegating enough to your team? Delegating not
only frees you up for the more strategic working and thinking, but it also builds the skills of your reports
so that you all can grow and accomplish more.
Some of the new leaders I’m coaching find it tough to delegate at first. They’re used to their hands-on
roles as individual contributors. They like to be close to all the work. And they just don’t know how to let
Letting go is scary, especially when you’re a high-performing perfectionist. But with a little up-front
planning, you can become a skilled delegator. Hassan Osman, project management office
leader at Cisco, wrote a great, quick read you might want to check out: Effective
Delegation of Authority: A (Really) Short Book for New Managers About How to
Delegate Work Using a Simple Delegation Process.
Here are a couple of tips from the book that I’ve used and have passed onto my clients:
1. Before you delegate, get clear on outcome you want
2. Find the right person for the job OR a natural leader who will figure it out
3. If this is a big job, or a relatively new hire, delegate in a meeting instead of over
email so that you can be sure they understand the task
4. Describe the task in terms of goals and outcomes, without prescribing how they
should do it. This allows the person to feel ownership of the job and gives them
the freedom to grow by figuring it out on their own
5. Describe how the task will benefit them and help them meet their own goals
6. And set clear checkpoints and limits -these are clear timelines where you expect
Try it out, let me know how it went.
When there’s a lot of uncertainty in the decisions you’re making, it’s wise to think through all the things that could go wrong, because something probably will. If you have been following a good decision-making process as described in previous blogs, you have already surfaced assumptions and risks related to your options. This puts you well ahead of the game!
Some things you can do to prepare to fail include:
Another tool I use a lot in my projects is the “Pre-Mortem”, taught to me by my colleague Richard Crespin, CEO of CollaborateUp. With this process, you imagine it’s sometime in the future and your project has failed. Then you identify all the things that went wrong with the project. Even though you’re just imagining, it’s amazing how this future-thinking helps you see some things you might not have already noticed by just thinking about risks. After you’ve jotted down “all the things that went wrong”, note how likely it is to happen and what the consequences might be for each. If you want to try it out, you’re welcome to use this free Decision-Making workbook.
Fellow coach Jennifer Wills of jwillscoaching.com tried out the Pre-Mortem after attending a training my Decision-Making training course. She said, “I spent about 10 minutes on this and got so much out of it!”
1. I was able to see which problems I have control over.
2. It helped me think about how I would manage risks related to the things I have control over.
3. I was able to see which problems are most realistic.
4. I noticed that the biggest negative consequence could be a positive learning experience.
5. The worst outcome could be tied to another key thing that went wrong, and one that I have control over.