How Each Generation of Leaders Approaches Delegation
Delegation can be difficult for many leaders, as it can be perceived as giving up control. Different generations see delegation in different ways. For example, in a Traditionalist environment, it may be seen as a weakness. Leaders are expected to have full control over all matters and they should be the final decision maker. Many traditionalists believe that, if work does not get done correctly or on time, the leader should be held accountable. In this type of environment, fear of failure is very high and mistakes are not tolerated. This creates an environment where leaders are unwilling to delegate.
Baby Boomers also often struggle with delegation. They worry that, if they delegate work and mistakes are made, they could miss out on promotions or on being assigned future projects. They feel that giving up control of the details can be perceived as a loss of their “work value.” This can leave them feeling that, if someone else is given responsibility for important tasks, they will no longer be valued or needed.
Gen Xers are more inclined to delegate, especially on tasks or projects that they do not feel add value to their professional portfolio. In general, Gen Xers feel that the more their employees can do, the greater likelihood of team success. Gen Xers also dislike being micromanaged themselves, so they are more likely to allow employees to “sink or swim,” rather than micromanaging day-to-day tasks. They see this as a way of letting employees know they trust them and believe in their abilities. However, this can lead to Gen X leaders not providing sufficient tools and information to set employees up for success.
Gen Ys managers have fewer challenges delegating. They are accustomed to a world of collaboration and sharing responsibilities with team members. However, since Gen Ys often have strong personal relationships with employees, they may avoid delegating or assigning tasks if they feel that the employee will not be pleased with the additional responsibility. In addition, Gen Ys may not be familiar with the hierarchy of an organization and may not understand why they cannot delegate “up” to more senior members.
In order for leaders from each generation to delegate effectively, they need to feel comfortable doing so. For Traditionalists, this means having the support of senior leaders and the knowledge that small project errors are acceptable during the transition period when employees are assuming greater responsibility.
For Baby Boomers, it is important for them to acknowledge that effective delegation will allow them to take on greater responsibilities that leverage their strengths as well as tapping into their desires to add value to the organization.
Gen Xers need to focus on providing the required tools to employees and should focus on offering the right level of coaching as employees are learning new tasks and skills
Gen Ys can become more effective delegators if they leverage the trust they have built with their teams by openly sharing how increased responsibilities benefit employees, the team and the organization.
For more details on empowering employees through effective delegation, please see chapter 5 in Upgrade Now: 9 Advanced Leadership Skills available at www.ngenperformance.com/book.