Attitudes of an Effective Delegator #1 – Others are Smart, Responsible, & Capable

controlledWe recently fired an employee and did so reluctantly. She was a hard worker, had a very low absentee rate, and clients liked her. But in the end there was one attitude and its corresponding action that tipped the scales away from retention and towards outplacement as termination is euphemistically termed these days.

She patently distrusted everyone about everything. To hear her talk, and she talked a lot, no one on the entire team was competent except herself. Whoever worked before her or after her had screwed things up and heaven help anyone who worked with her because she rode them mercilessly, criticizing everything they did.

No one was ever good enough. No one ever did it right.

At least that was her attitude.

Productivity suffered as did quality. The result was dissension, resentment, and enmity in the team which could not be tolerated.

Now, she wasn’t actually a leader per se, so we could object that her experience is an isolated one. But you and I know that it isn’t. The same principles apply. The same dynamics engage.

Effective delegators possess one common attitude – they do not believe that others are inherently incompetent, irresponsible, or contumacious. Others may not be trained fully. They may be trained differently than you. But that does not and should not equate to an incapacity to help at all.


So, let’s reorient the story to the leader of a small office on the west coast. There were a dozen or so people who worked there. The leader of the company distrusted them all. He instituted a stringent and rigid schedule of checkpoints and sign-offs that resulted in complete bottleneck at his desk. He had to check everything.

Well, he really didn’t have to check everything. He just thought he had to. He was not an effective delegator.


Then there is the final story. Mark ran an office of about 40 people. He spent most of his time recruiting the right people (more about that in a future post. It is one of the hallmarks of an effective delegator), in articulating and defining vision for the company,  and inspiring others in their pursuit of that vision. The result was an explosion of activity and productivity.

Effective delegators have the attitude that others can and will do the right thing if they understand what the objective is and believe they have the wiggle room to create. Unlike the woman mentioned at the beginning or the ineffective fellow mentioned after, the results will be amazing.


I am told that some pilots create more turbulence than is actually there by trying to control the plane too much. Airplanes move up and down, side to side, and still fly quite well. Larger planes are more forgiving, but most of what we do is done in slammer settings so the principle is particularly relevant. When we do not understand the dynamics of movement and motion, when we do not allow for some variance, when we try to rigidly manipulate control devices in fear that something will go wildly out of control, we create more turbulence than is actually there.

There is no such thing as a perfectly smooth journey. Effective delegators understand that and relax at the controls. Not abandon them. Relax.

You’ve got good people with you and around you. Let them do their job.