Communicating as a Leader

Improve Employee Performance by Letting Aspiring Leaders Take Charge

Barbara Brown, PhD asked:

If you have an employee who wants to “take the lead” on every assignment, let him or her lead; even in a small way. Why? Because the more you allow employees to perform tasks they like, the more likely they are to do a good job on that particular task and in other areas as well. As for the leadership role, consider these three possibilities:

1. START something involving a small task: All tasks have a beginning. So let your “wanna be leader” be the first to do what needs to be done first. Consider things like distributing information, calling people, or collecting information. As you issue the task, tell the employee that you want him or her to take the lead.

2. START something involving a large project: Think about upcoming projects that involve your aspiring leader or other employees. Something needs to happen at the onset. This might involve kicking off the project, notifying stakeholders, or compiling data. When you issue this assignment, explain to your employee how he or she will be taking on a leadership role.

3. START something involving an external activity: Does your organization ever attend retreats or conferences? Or perhaps you participate in community meetings. These activities involve an orderly sequence of events and can include multiple tasks. Things like advertising, gaining support, and soliciting participants are just a few things that need to be done. Allow your “take charge” employee to lead one of these tasks; and be sure to emphasize their contributions as the lead person.

Little Things Really Can Make A Difference

If you know your employees, you know what excites them and what doesn’t. And when employees are excited about their job, they do a better job. Of course you can’t always give employees everything they want. But you can give them some of what they want. 

When it comes to employees who want to take charge or be the leader, you have many opportunities to fulfill this need. It just requires a critical examination of the job and a careful explanation of the responsibilities. In other words, sometimes what you do and what you say can determine the kind of performance you get. So the next time you give an assignment to an aspiring leader, use these three strategies and tell the employee, “I want you to take the lead.” 


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