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What to dictate, what to delegate

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Here’s the most shopworn advice for team leaders: Let your group decide.

Concerned about ground rules? Let them draft a list! Unsure how to reward team accomplishments? Solicit their input on goodies they covet! Worried about whether to provide training? Ask what seminars they want to attend!

In truth, some matters are best left in your hands as the manager. You shouldn’t call all the shots. But if you delegate too much, too often, you may lose your grip on the group.

Retain these responsibilities as group leader:

Stating the group’s purpose. You convene a team to achieve something. Let them know what you want from them. Don’t instruct them in their first meeting to figure out why they’re there—and what goals they want to pursue.

Measuring effectiveness. It’s up to you, not the group, to determine what constitutes success. Set the bar high. Specify what factors you’ll use to assess the team’s performance—and make sure you provide clear, transparent measures that everyone understands.

Drafting ground rules. There are certain non-negotiable rules that you must stipulate to the group. Examples include respecting everyone’s role and operating with integrity. It’s fine to present your mandatory rules and then invite team members to add to the list as they wish.

Providing institutional support. No matter how well a group gels, it’s your job to place it in the position to succeed among your executive team. Update senior management on the team’s mission and ensure that all top decision-makers buy into the group’s efforts.


Keep meetings moving with three simple rules: start on time, stick to the agenda and don’t stop to summarize what latecomers have missed. If you insist on waiting for a straggler to show up, you penalize everyone else for being punctual. If you stray from the agenda, you signal that it really doesn’t matter much. And if you disrupt the proceedings to fill in tardy folks on what you’ve covered, you waste everyone’s time.


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