Change is both a constant and a challenging part of our professional lives. Leading change and managing change are different skills, and learning to navigate both processes successfully is essential to long term leadership success.

I capture the difference between leading change and managing change in this way:  It’s all in the direction of your gaze.

Leading change requires a leader to look up and out in the direction one wants to travel and to describe how to get there. 

Managing change requires the manager to look across the organization and down into their area of influence, and adequately describe and oversee the work that needs to be executed.

There is more to it, of course. But asking, “Which direction are you looking?” will offer a fairly good insight into whether you are engaged in leading change or managing it.

To effectively navigate from Here to There a leader must look in both directions.

Knowing which one captures your attention and imagination at this point in your career is an important insight that can help ensure that you are both doing the work you love and serving the organization well.

Do you notice the details? Do you easily see the relationships between tasks, teams, people and projects? Are you the consummate planner and implementer? This is the management and execution side of the street.

Alternatively, do you have a talent for seeing opportunities where none exist today? Do you imagine new ways to solve problems? Have a talent for seeing a different future reality than the one that exists today? If so, then you likely thrive in the leadership lane, leading the conception of project and building the strategy upon which a team will succeed.                                   

Discovering which kind of leader you are wired to be at this point in your career can be undertaken by simply noticing which of these two lanes captures your attention.

Then you have to discipline yourself to do what was asked of you as a kid: look both ways before you cross the street!

Organizational success depends on the ability to execute on a great vision.

So, leaders, are you looking both ways as you cross the intersection with your organization? When you do, you can ensure you will get from Here to There successfully.

Tune in to hear Jennifer and Jeff, Voltage Leadership’s CEO, take a deeper dive on this topic on this episode of their radio show Illuminating Leadership.


It is all well and good to know what to delegate, but who among us has not had an assignment we delegated go horribly wrong?  Inaccurate.  Incomplete.  Late Arriving.  Or, worst of all, Undone.

I confess to being guilty of all four failings at one time or another.  For a variety of completely justifiable reasons (if one were to take my point of view for a moment) and sometimes for unjustifiable ones, I have delivered poorly on tasks delegated to me.

If I were to juxtapose the things I felt I made a promise to do vs. the things that were delegated to me, any guess which column would have more “completed” items in it?

Yep, the “I promised” column.  Deliberate delegation begins with making sure the person you are delegating to actually promises to take on and complete the task, and to return and communicate if that is not possible.

If you want to find yourself with a higher success rate in delegating tasks and projects, it is important to understand the parties and processes involved.

Who’s Who?

There are two parties involved in any Deliberate Delegation, you and the person you are asking to do the work.  Once you choose to delegate something, you turn yourself into a Customer. The person who will do the work will be the Performer, instead of you. 

A 4 Step Process

There are 4 phases to the Deliberate Delegation process:

1.       Preparation:  expectations are outlined and a request is made.

2.       Negotiation:  an agreement is reached and the project begins.

3.       Fulfillment:  the work is being done and delivered.

4.       Satisfaction:  we discover and recognize how well the work was done.

Each Phase raises questions.

Preparation Phase

The Customer asks:  Who is best for the Job?

The Performer asks:  Do I have the time and the ability?

Troubles arise when the Customer gives an assignment without waiting to see if the Performer accepts the assignment, and failing to learn on what terms that assignment can be accepted (and therefore successfully completed for both parties).

Negotiation Phase

The Customer asks:  Will what I need be accomplished on time?  Are the parameters satisfactory?

The Performer asks:  Have I asked for enough resources?  Do I continue to have the capacity?

Troubles arise when the Performer says “Yes” to the assignment before considering and communicating honestly about the answer to the “Do I have the time?” and the “Do I have the ability?” questions.

Fulfillment Phase

The Customer asks:  What is the progress?  Am I satisfied with the progress?

The Performer asks:  Can I deliver what was requested by the deadline?

Troubles arise when neither party check in with the other to see what progress is being made.

Satisfaction Phase

The Customer asks:  Am I satisfied with the work?  Was it delivered on time?

The Performer asks:  Did I accomplish what I agreed to?  Did I accomplish what was expected?

If we miss this phase, we miss twice. We miss:

1. Learning.  Learning what could go better next time, and

2. Engagement.  Forgetting to thank people for their work leaves them feeling undervalued and unappreciated.  You won’t get exceptional performance twice if you don’t acknowledge the work, and you won’t get better performance next time if you don’t stop and share what went right and what could have gone better.

The next time you have a task or project to delegate, take a moment and think through the Deliberate Delegation process.

  • What do you need done?
  • Who is best for the job?

Once you assign the task, negotiate the scope and terms of the work, and then follow up.

Be sure to check in and see how things are going.  Be curious.  Offer support.  And when the work is complete, let the person know how they did; what went right, and what could go differently next time.

Happy delegating!


Overwhelmed.  Frustrated.  Or both.

I sit across the table from leaders and hear these common refrains time and again. Either the comments are autobiographical or they are directed toward others:  their peers, team members, direct reports, the CEO.

“I have too much on my plate.”

“There is too much on the horizon.”

“So much is changing so rapidly in the marketplace, that I feel my brain can’t keep up!”

“They don’t move quickly enough.”

“The thinking isn’t right to meet our need right now.  They need to be focused on different things.”

“Where is the accountability: the sense of urgency?”

“Why can’t they think more strategically?”

Leaders at every level wrestle, in different ways, with these same questions:

  • What do I keep?
  • What do I give away?
  • How do I decide?

We need to choose wisely what to delegate and what to keep.  Deliberate Delegation.

When choosing which assignments to give and which to do, I recommend beginning with these 3 questions:

  1. Is the assignment too large for me to accomplish alone?
  2. Does this work present an opportunity to develop others?
  3. Can someone else do this better than I can?

If you answer “yes” to any one of these questions, the task is one that could be delegated.

The next step is to know if it should be delegated.

Once you know you could delegate something, you then need to assess if it is wise to delegate this particular task.  What is the risk? To capture the risk, ask the next two questions:

  1. How urgent is the task?
  2. How important is the task?
  • If something is Very Urgent and Very Important, proceed with caution.  You may not want to delegate this one, unless your team is seasoned and successful.
  • If something is Very Urgent but Not Important, it is a great task to give away to build skills on your team.
  • If something is Not Urgent but Very Important, you have time on your side.  This is a great opportunity to develop your team; building skills, trust, experience and confidence in their work and in their relationships with you and one another.

With these questions in mind, you can make an informed decision about what to keep and what to give away. This is where Deliberate Delegation actually begins. But what are the steps to the process of effective Deliberate Delegation? Check back next week to find out!