Have just arrived here in the dormitory from my Community Organizing class under Prof. Aguja. He discussed about social investigation as vital step in successful community organizing. We had a practicum where we considered the Gensan oval as an artificial community where we could do the investigation. There were six groups with four members each. Our task is to determine the issues and concerns in that “community”, gather data, and present it to the class after two hours.
Small Victories in Delegation
During the discussion he mentioned about the importance of “small victories” as a way of empowering and developing the self-esteem of people. In organizing community, you need not address right away the big problems that would take long and require inevitable series of failures before achieving success. Instead, deal with the small ones first that can easily be solved. In this way the people will start to believe that things can be done when they are organized and united.
As I was listening, I was reflecting on the significance of small victories in developing and empowering subordinates in the context of student leadership.
You may have great plans and programs, but if you don’t have competent and committed people to help accomplish them, you’ll get frustrated. This is where the art of delegation enters in. This is the most important yet very crucial in accomplishing a task. How to put the right people in the right assignments where they could be effective?
Here are some lessons I’ve learned in delegation.
1. Establish a relationship. Get to know your members and genuinely care for them. Know their birthdays, their parents’ and siblings’, and talk to them about themselves, their families and the things they value. It requires time and intent to do this. I sometimes write down the facts to remember what we’re talking. By befriending him/her you’ll get to know his/her strengths and weaknesses. Trust is developed in friendship. You’ll find it hard to delegate if you don’t know him and he doesn’t trust you.
2. Always think, “How can I build him/her up?” It’s the responsibility of the leader to teach, guide, and develop his members. Every conversation is an opportunity to share a principle in leadership. You can’t give what you don’t have, so you need to equip yourself and also find a mentor to fill and equip you. I remember we had a discussion with Madi on the five levels of leadership in the office. Affirm their strengths and appreciate them in public, while correct them in private. However, there are people who have attitudinal problems and are not teachable. They think they already knew everything, and on sharing to them some insights, they find it uncomfortable. Blame not yourself if they don’t listen. It takes no overnight to help people change their character. I’ve witnessed tragedies occurring in organizations because of this attitude.
3. Share to them your vision. Vision is very powerful. It’s the reason why the organization should continue to exist. It conjures image in our minds that would inspire us to move on. This could also be your driving and sustaining force. How do you see the organization after a year or even after five years? What are the things you need to do to realize this? What will be the roles of your members and what are your expectations from them? These should be made clear to them. They need to get the big picture. The challenge is for you to persuade them to join you accomplish these together. They should feel that they are significant and they a have a contribution to make. In every activity, always remind them the objectives and underlying reasons why this activity should be done in relation to the vision of the organization.
4. Delegate. Entrust a task to them and be surprised of their creativity. The level of their competence and your trust will determine the level of freedom you give them. In my case, I have been surprised many times by the creativity and achievements of my councilors. There were times that I had some doubts on specific proposal but I keep it to myself, and give them the opportunity to accomplish it, especially, when I sense their enthusiasm. Of course I also provide safety nets and sometimes play a “devil’s advocate-role” to examine different angles that could contribute to its success/failure.
You see the task as an opportunity for them to develop and apply their skills. Its accomplishment also contributes to the success of the project/event and so of the organization. It’s a win-win. And when they succeed, it adds value to their self-confidence and their sense of worth to the organization. They are important to the organization, they should know. This victory will dare them to accomplish bigger and better the next time.
Of course, there were also cases that I was disappointed by their performances and even failures. Good thing is when they learn something about it and perform better the next time. It made me sad when I knew that he/she could have done better, and that his/her potentials were not maximized. Sad still, when he/she assured me that everything’s alright only to find out the otherwise. What I hate the most were the disappearing acts and the unanswered calls/texts. But you know what the saddest thing is for me when a failure occurs? It’s when he/she points easily the blame to others and does not take full responsibility of his/her actions. This is pity. This is immaturity. I can only hope the best for him/her.
I continue to learn the art of delegation. I had my share of failures and successes in delegating tasks. It always involves risk, but knowing my members and their strengths, it gives me joy every time they succeed on their program/event.
I remember when we (first term) had our first meeting right after the oath-taking about two years ago. I told them something like this: when it’s best done, you did it; when it’s good we did it; and when it fails, I did it.
Perhaps that’s one of the prices of leadership: taking responsibility not just of your actions but also to whom you have delegated…
The SSC election is fast approaching. May the right man win!