Delegate and Elevate™ is a Strategic Management Tool

Judging by the reactions of my client teams, Gino Wickman’s parable about letting go of the vine is one of the most memorable parts of Traction. The story isn’t just for executives or business owners. Anyone who clings to work they could hand off to someone else should see themselves in the character who is refusing to let go.

The near-universal applicability is one of the big reasons why the EOS® process of Delegate and Elevate™ is such a powerful strategic management tool.

Simple idea with big results

The Delegate and Elevate process is another example of how EOS consolidates a lot of complicated thinking into a simple system.

In case you’ve forgotten, Delegate and Elevate aims to identify the work tasks that aren’t necessarily a person’s favorites—the tasks that are “below the line.” It starts as a private exercise. After making a list of all the things you do in a week, split them into one of four quadrants:

  1. Things you love to do and are great at doing.
  2. Things you like to do and are good at doing.
  3. Things you don’t like to do but are good at anyway.
  4. Things you don’t like to do and aren’t particularly good at doing.

Items in lists 1 and 2 are “above the line,” while the items in lists 3 and 4 are “below the line.”

Studying yourself can lead to unexpected results

After the list building comes the thinking. For most people, the “below the line” tasks are the source of most of the stress they feel at work. How integral are those things to the seat you’re sitting in? Are there things that can be delegated to someone else on the team?

Fair warning: the answers to those questions can be uncomfortable. There are times when people end up in roles they don’t want. Sometimes one or two of the below-the-line tasks are central to a position: some managers don’t like to manage people, for example. That’s okay. It’s better to acknowledge a fit issue rather than leaving it to fester.

This isn’t always easy to do. A key person for one of my clients held on to her role as a team manager despite admitting that she didn’t feel like she was good at leading people. Everyone on the team politely and gently agreed, but she had been a manager for so long no one wanted to make a change.

Fortunately, we kept her Delegate and Elevate exercise on hand. After a quarter of unresolved issues, she agreed it was time to step away from her management duties. That was a year ago, and now she’s happily focused on the things she prefers to do—and the people she used to manage feel empowered.

Open discussion is key

A big source of that (former) manager’s success was her willingness to discuss her concerns openly and honestly with the rest of the team. By being vulnerable to critique and admitting to having some weak spots, she could have been taking a great risk. That’s one of the big differences with EOS: being honest with each other, sharing concerns and resolving issues together, is suddenly not a source of problems, but a source of solutions.

The role of Delegate and Elevate in sparking conversation contributes to its asset as a strategic management tool. The best examples often come from people who are several tiers below the top executives on the Accountability Chart.

Something for everyone

I work with a small business that was struggling with an employee who was unhappy in his role but had important talents the leadership team wanted to keep. They had spent six months discussing the employee’s role in one-on-one sessions as well as during their quarterlies, without arriving at a clear solution that would help the employee to thrive.

I suggested I walk the employee through the Delegate and Elevate exercise. The results were unexpected, and even surprising, for the leadership team. It turned out the employee loved aspects of his work that were buried under loads of “below the line” tasks.

Solving the riddle required collaboration. The employee needed to let go of his vine: some of his least favorite tasks were also things he considered to be his most important contribution to the business. At the same time, the leadership team needed to reimagine how his seat within the Accountability Chart interacted with the rest of the operation.

In the end, the company hired a contractor to allow the employee to offload his most time-consuming below-the-line work. In turn, he could spend more time on the things he enjoyed. The employee has since been promoted, and he thinks delegation was a big reason for his success.

Unlock your company’s potential with Delegate and Elevate

Every business has untapped talent hidden behind “below the line” work. The first step to accessing that creative energy is to recognize it for what it is, and that’s where Delegate and Elevate comes in.

Has your business successfully used Delegate and Elevate? I’d love to hear your stories, or share some of mine. Let’s get in touch! Send me an email or give me a call at (818) 649-1103.