“If they [leaders] can delegate, they can actually get a lot more things done in less time.” ~Scott Stein
The top challenges facing leaders today, according to Scott, is not having enough time for them to do everything they need to do. This results in leaders taking shortcuts which may be inappropriate in the long run, as they will eventually need to work harder and will need to deal with any negative consequences of such actions on their people. Where leadership throughout time is concerned, one of the biggest challenges has been having one’s people take action in a manner the leader wants, and this has been exacerbated at present by the need for leaders to make decisions and take action quickly. Scott notes that leaders today need to be smarter in the way they work, so they can be more efficient while not skipping steps as they go along, and the book provides practical advice and procedures for doing so.
Scott notes that there are quite a few books on leadership out in the market today are done by academics who have never had any practical experience in leadership and also remarks that there are leadership programs available today which might have been applicable a half-century ago but which are not applicable today.
Scott notes three categories of hacks where leadership is concerned, all of which he has hacks for:
- Personal hacks - the things leaders can do to help them work smarter.
- One-on-one hacks - when a leader interacts with one of his subordinates.
- Team hacks - when a leader interacts with his team or organization.
One of the hacks that Scott mentioned was how to hack one’s inbox, which is particularly vital if the leader is in charge of an organization with literally thousands of people. Moreover, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report, leaders spend around two and a half hours of their time each day reading and answering e-mails, which makes hacking one’s inbox important. Scott mentions a four-step e-mail inbox hack which he picked up from a global HR leader who deals with 15 countries and over 10,000 people under her. The process is as follows:
- Scan the e-mail.
- Delete anything that is not important, to eliminate visual clutter.
- Sort the remaining e-mails according to level of importance.
- Respond to any necessary e-mails.
Scott also gave some advice on how to get e-mails responded to, and this is by telling the recipient, in the Subject line or at the very beginning of the e-mail, what the desired outcome is. There are five different types of outcomes, which give context to the reader, viz.:
- FYI - I just need to give you information.
- I need some information from you, can you share this with me?
- A decision needs to be made.
- I need you to take action on this.
- We need to have a meeting, because what we need to discuss is too complex to communicate over an e-mail.
Where delegation is concerned, Scott notes that, according to a Harvard Business Review article noted that more than half of the companies surveyed were concerned about the ability of their leaders to delegate. Scott believes that most leaders don’t delegate because of the time concerns, as leaders feel that the job could be done more efficiently, and in the way the leader wants it, if they did the job themselves, rather than giving it to a subordinate and having him mess it up. Leaders also might not trust their subordinates, for whatever reason, or might not have trained their subordinates properly, which makes leaders reluctant to delegate, and Scott notes that there are no organizations that give leaders a process on how to delegate, and then remarks that there are four levels of delegation.
Level 1: “Don’t do it, because I’ll do it myself.”
Level 2: “Let’s work together to map out / write down the activities, and the sequence that the activities need to be taken, along with a time frame for doing these.”
Level 3: “Create your own map on what needs to be done, and I’ll check on it before you carry out the task.”
Level 4: “I’ll give you this task to do, and then check on you later.”
Moving one’s staff up these levels, Scott notes, empowers the staff and gives the leader more time to handle other things.
The three ingredients of leaders who are admired by other leaders have three aspects which enable them to get things done in a way that motivates their people:
Mindset - open to learning and trying new things. This is the Growth Mindset mentioned by Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, as opposed to the Fixed Mindset, as the Growth Mindset is the belief that one can cultivate one’s learning as well as learn from one’s mistakes.
Approach - the steps taken and how one’s subordinates are engaged so that they will take those steps.
Impact - on the people around the leader.
A lot of leaders learn into becoming a leader, according to Scott, and these leaders often guess and decide along the way, where risky decisions and possible new ways of doing things are concerned.
- Check-in meeting, where the leader checks in on the work done so far.
- Problem-solving meeting, where a problem is discussed and solved. This may require the presence of people who have expertise in the problem concerned and does not require the presence of those who are not involved with the problem.
- Decision-making meeting, after which action will be taken.
- Strategy-development meeting, which is a planning meeting that looks into the future.
Where technology is concerned, Scott points out that, according to all the research done on the topic, technology is highly distracting. Even having a smartphone beside one can reduce cognitive thinking and ability, because of the notifications that come in; and the impact extends into family life, when a leader is stuck to a screen when the rest of the family is around and wants to spend time with him.
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