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Leadership

Deflating the Balloon

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a leader is to claw back the responsibility you have delegated to another.

You nitpick what they are doing because it isn’t done exactly how you would do it. You hover over their shoulder. You leave no room for natural learning and as a result, you endlessly criticize. The worst manifestation of this is reclaiming what you delegated.

This will absolutely crush a man’s ego. He will never really do his best for you again and will probably start looking for another job. Or he’ll just quit.

You can’t give a man responsibility and then take it away. Instead, it’s more honest if you just fire them. If you delegate something, give them the parameters you require, and then get out of the way.

As your sons grow older, you will need to start trusting them with bigger and bigger jobs. Your first impulse will be to nitpick.

For example, if you tell him to mow the lawn, and he starts mowing the lawn east to west instead of north to south (which is the way you do it)…let it go. Let him figure it out. Thank him for the work, and then point out places he missed or ways to improve. But only for things that actually matter.

If you tell him to take more showers because he stinks and he comes out of his room under the cover of a cloud of cologne…

If you tell him to sing more in church and next Sunday he is belting out loud and off-key…

If you tell him to wash the car and he uses the entire bottle of soap and it takes him 2 hours…

Don’t temper that enthusiasm. The glory of young men is their strength and if you try to lessen their zeal, you risk deflating the whole balloon. It might take a while before they build up the confidence to try anything new again.

Take joy that they are taking their responsibility seriously. Praise them for doing the job. Only point out things that have to do with the completion of the job itself, and not how exactly they went about doing the job.

You probably would have done it a different way. You shouldn’t care. If you really cared about how it was done, you should have done it yourself.

Give them parameters, but let them run wild and free within those parameters.

Delegate, then watch the show.