Avoid busy work… delegate

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere”. Ronald Reagan

As the 40th president of the United States, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed “Reaganomics”, advocated reducing tax rates to spur economic growth, controlling the money supply to reduce inflation, deregulation of the economy, and reducing government spending. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, took a hard line against labor unions, announced a new War on Drugs, and ordered an invasion of Grenada. He was re-elected in a landslide in 1984, proclaiming that it was “Morning in America”. His second term was primarily marked by foreign matters, such as the ending of the Cold War, the 1986 bombing of Libya, and the revelation of the Iran–Contra affair. Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an “evil empire”, he supported anti-communist movements worldwide and spent his first term forgoing the strategy of détente by ordering a massive military buildup in an arms race with the USSR. Reagan negotiated with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, culminating in the INF Treaty and the decrease of both countries’ nuclear arsenals.

Delegating seems to be one of the most difficult qualities to achieve. Delegation is defined as the passing down of authority and responsibility to another person to carry out specific activities. Most leaders do not have a hard time passing work or activities on to others. The difficulty lies in that the leader does not understand they are still responsible for the outcome of the delegated task. Most great leaders when delegating will find the right person for the job, then they will explain in great detail the expectations of the task and then ask the person to return and report. Great leaders know just because they have “pawned” a task off to another, they are still responsible for the outcome of the task. Take the example of Ronald Reagan, look at all he accomplished in his time as president. It is obvious that he had to delegate many of the responsibilities to achieve what he did. But here is the key, almost all the items he delegated were done in such a way that the person that was given the responsibility of the task completed the task just as President Reagan would have it carried out. In other words, it was almost like President Reagan was there.

Great leaders just don’t delegate responsibilities just so they have more time to golf. Great leaders delegate responsibility to teach those they lead how to lead. Leaders are tasked to empower their people and do so by delegating tasks. I learned a long time ago that leaders are always training their replacements. Why is that so? I will leave that one for you to decide.

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