The leadership team at J.C. Bradford & Co., which was an extremely successful investment banking and brokerage firm based in Nashville, used to have a motto that stated, "If the floor needs to be swept, grab a broom.” This meant that if there was a task that needed to be done, even a task as menial as sweeping the floor, the CEO was expected to pick up the broom if the janitor wasn't around. This is not only a great example of servant leadership, but an even better example of the right way to build a culture of delegation. Here are a few things J.C. Bradford & Co. can teach us about delegation:
1. In order to coach or lead a group of people in a given activity, not only do you need to have been there before, but you also have to be an expert on the subject. Reading a book about a subject is no substitute for actually doing it. Once you have lived it and become an expert, then you can effectively teach it.
2. Delegation requires buy-in from your subordinates. Buy-in requires respect. If you are asking someone to do something you are not willing to do yourself, they will most likely not respect you.
3. This type of culture promotes ownership from anyone who encounters a task that needs to be done. There is nothing less effective than a group of people delegating a hot potato that no one is willing to own.
As I write this blog, I am on a tractor learning how to properly maintain some of our pine straw fields and will soon be an expert. As soon as I get there, I will be in a great position to begin delegation of this type of task.