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A lesson in delegating authority

by on
in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Blogger Mike Figliuolo says this story is about empowering your employees.

We think it’s more than that, but you decide.

On a Friday this fall, Figliuolo saw a bright star and a black hole of leadership. Both of the actual leaders were away, so these performances came from their surrogates.

First, Figliuolo called a beer distributor at almost 5 p.m. because he needed a new tap in a pinch. He asked when it closed.

“We’re open till 5 but I’ll be here until 6, so no worries,” said Kenny, the young clerk. “Here’s my cell number. Just call me when you get here and I’ll hook you up.”

At the store, Kenny confirmed that the tap was broken and exchanged it for a new one at no charge, saving his customer about $35 and a headache.

Next stop was the video store to clear up a mystery charge of $32. Tiffany, an equally young clerk, explained that the charge was for two late movies sold to his account.

Figliuolo asked how the DVDs could be late since he brought them back the moment he got a reminder call. Tiffany didn’t know, said her manager was out for a bite to eat, and invited her customer to come back later.

He went back twice. Both times the manager was out to lunch, and Figliuolo was ready to slam his head on the counter by the third visit.

His conclusion: Kenny’s boss is awesome while Tiffany’s boss doesn’t trust her employees.

Our take: It’s that and more. Not only did Tiffany’s boss give her zero authority, but the boss also was missing in action and Tiffany took zero initiative, which converted into zero customer satisfaction.

Bottom line: By giving Kenny the freedom to switch out a $35 tap, Kenny’s boss can attend to “bossly things,” cultivate more Kennys and prosper. At the same time, the video store’s customers and employees (even Tiffany) probably know where that business is headed.

— Adapted from “Leaders Who Empower: Why Kenny Kicks Tiffany’s Butt Every Time,” Mike Figliuolo, Thought Leaders Blog, http://thoughtleadersllc.blogspot.com.

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