I asked this simple conversation opener to a colleague last week, “I don’t know” was his reply. At first I was a bit taken aback, it’s not the kind of answer one expects from a person with several years of management experience. But then again, it was kind of honest.
His answer inspired me to think about all the things that I don’t have a good view on that somehow, I might be considered responsible for. The process was quite scary.
Firstly I had to consider all the people that either directly, or indirectly are following my instructions or guidelines. What are they doing precisely? Are they actually following them? Do they even understand them? To which extent am I responsible? If things went horribly wrong, would my name be mentioned, would I be implicated in any way or even the principle source of blame; am I responsible or not? – How is it all going?
To my relief, I found that the list covering my private life was much shorter. Luckily my children are above voting age and can do little that could legally come back to me, but you do see and hear terrible things in the papers! But then there’s the guys who are laying the underfloor heating in the house I am doing up for my retirement. I have no clue what they are up to, how the job is going. I suffer from cold feet at the best of times and if, when I come back from my business trip, the pipes are covered with concrete and three centimeters of slate, I will never know if in the winter of my pension years I will have to walk around in electrically heated slippers or asbestos lined boots!
You can say I should trust more and it would be true. And because I constantly advise others that ‘confident people make good delegators’ I think I should walk the talk. But complete trust does not come easily to passionate people. Trust is complex and not a constant, sometimes there’s too much of it and sometimes there’s too little.
So to cheer myself up I decided to make a third list, one which tried to capture all the good that my delegation over the years may have produced. And although it was much trickier to write, it did give me a humbling sense of connectivity of purpose,
Have a good week,