November 13, 2020
Pivot and Delegate
Each EmpowerED 3.2.1 features a brief summary of my musings about and learning from multiple disciplines as they apply to leadership in education.
“Pivot. Delegate. ‘Be an Adult for Goodness Sake.’ Leadership Lessons From the World’s Top CEOs” by TIME deputy editor Eben Shapiro appeared in my inbox few weeks ago. The title alone made me flag it to read later and now I have done so and I am glad I did. In this TIME’s weekly Leadership Brief series, business leaders offer real-time insight into managing through unprecedented times. I found three big ideas to share with you.
3 Big Ideas
- Understand your employees.
A Harvard Business Review article quotes Kevin Washington, CEO of the YMCA, as saying “it’s a very tricky time” to be in charge. Younger workers today, says Washington, “expect and demand a different kind of leadership. They’re not as patient with the status quo or the hierarchy of an organization or a company.” This Harvard Business Review article titled “Generational Differences At Work Are Small. Thinking They’re Big Affects Our Behavior” suggests that generational differences at work are actually small, but digging into them can make a workplace culture stronger. Authors Eden King, Lisa Finkelstein, Courtney Thomas and Abby Corrington encourage readers to examine your workplace and you are likely to see people from across the age span, particularly as more Americans are working past age 55. For more information see the US Bureau of Labor Statistics career outlook report titled “Older Workers: Labor Force Trends and Career Options.“
There seems to be considerable variety of preferences and values within groups and not between them. An abstract of a Journal of Business and Psychology report states that a meta-analysis of 20 different studies with nearly 20,000 people revealed small and inconsistent differences in job attitudes when comparing generational groups. It found that, although individual people may experience changes in their needs, interests, preferences, and strengths over the course of their careers, sweeping group differences depending on age or generation alone don’t seem to be supported and are often stereotypes.
I find that what matters most across and within generational groups is information processing styles and preferences. Identifying processing styles shift communication methods to best meet employee’s needs, and being clear about your own processing preferences makes a big difference. Paula Rutherford’s “Do You Hear What I Say? Do I Hear What You Say” is a very useful tool for learning about communication preferences and using that information to frame decisions about which expressive and receptive methods of communication will be the most productive.
- History can be a good teacher.
Eben Shapiro, deputy editor of TIME, was struck by the CEOs who said they didn’t read conventional business-leadership books but instead were leaning on history. They’re learning from past eras, when world affairs also seemed grim and America appeared stretched to the point of breaking. Shapiro noted many of the CEOs mentioned Ron Chernow’s Grant so he began reading the book. “It’s indeed compelling, and also a grim reminder that the country has been trying to address systemic racism since the end of the Civil War,” says Shapiro. (I placed my order today.) In the Collaborative Fund’s blog post titled “Five Lessons From History” by Morgan Housel, we find the most important lessons in history that are takeaways that are so broad we can apply them to other fields, eras, and people. These lessons have leverage and are more likely to apply to your own life. There are ample lessons in education from pedagogy in teaching reading, “new math,” discovery science, scheduling, budgeting and more. What we learn from our history can impact our future. Let’s pay attention!
- Leading is job #1. Delegation is job #2.
“My job is to lead not manage,” was a theme through each of Shariro’s interviews. Running a modern multinational company during an economic catastrophe is not a job for control freaks. Successful CEOs are big-time delegators in today’s business environment. Shapiro interviews and shares his insight from Kevin Washington CEO of YMCA, Brian Moynihan, the CEO of Bank of America, Beth Ford, CEO of Land O’Lakes;Margaret Keane, CEO of Synchrony; Progressive CEO Tricia Griffith; John Foley, CEO of Peloton; Chris Kempczinski, CEO of McDonald’s; and David Taylor, CEO of Procter & Gamble. In education, school and district leaders can and must lead effectively and delegate efficiently. The National Institute for Excellence in Teaching pushed out an excellent blog post in March 2020 titled “Superintendent Series: Nine Strategies for Leading and Communicating Clearly” with an embedded short video featuring Randy Speck, former superintendent in Madison District Public Schools, Michigan.
Next, take a look at Lifehack’s “What is Delegation and How Does it Enhance Team Management?” by David Carpenter. He defines delegation as “the act of empowering to act for another” and offers a comprehensive outline that is worth reading and integrating into your own leading and delegating repertoire. Don’t miss the How to Delegate Properly list. Thank you for this important piece, David!
“If you delegate tasks, you create followers. If you delegate authority, you create leaders.”
– Craig Groeschel, pastor and author
“Delegate and let go!”
– Richard Branson, British businessman, philanthropist
About the Author: Marcia Baldanza is also the author of Professional Practices, a Just ASK Senior Consultant. and adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. Until recently she worked for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, where she was an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability; prior to that she was Director of Federal and State Programs.