Simple principles = intelligent behavior

Jon at Agile Elements has a post on the “Value of Values” (here).  There’s a lot of good stuff in the post, but I’ll focus on one aspect by hijacking his quote from the founder of Visa:

Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex, intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple, stupid behavior.

While Jon is focusing on the agile context, living the spirit of this statement is essential for a leader.  I’ve found that when I give my team very specific guidance about an initiative or topic I’m delegating, I get the answer I expected.  Unfortunately, it isn’t always correct.

When I give very specific instructions, I’m short-circuiting the creativity of my team.  Giving my team only general guidance — about the strategic intent, desired outcome, problem to be solved — and letting them go at it has proven more successful.  In this way, I unlock the potential of my team and its leaders.

Finally, being too specific when delegating often is the manifestation of unhealthy mindsets in me: a desire to get the credit, a desire to control, a lack of trust in my team, fear of failure, etc.  It is critical for me to place principles over personality when I delegate.

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