Respect Your Paygrade

5 December 2018 – Respect Your Paygrade

Last week, I wrote about the need for strategy to have space – timing, mental and physical space.

One simple behaviour will free up 2/3, which Meatloaf tells me ain’t bad.

(If you’re super creative, applying this behaviour may even hit all three – if you have an example of this, let me know!)

Anyone guessed what it is?


This all comes down to respecting your paygrade, and valuing everyone’s time – including yours – which gives you some mental space to breathe.

How many of you work with someone who endlessly complains about a lack of time and bandwidth, but spends hours on the operational front line “fighting fires”?

Maybe you are that someone?

This behaviour isn’t heroic, it’s a rip-off. Refusing to delegate is an absolute rip-off. Leaders who behave like this don’t just rip off themselves, they rip-off their employers by not focusing at the level they’re paid for, and they rip off their team by robbing them of opportunities to learn and grow.

Worse – it’s selfish. The excuses people give for not delegating look a bit like this:

  • I enjoy operational stuff and don’t want to give it up

  • It would be admitting my own limitations

  • I look important when I’m busy

  • I like keeping the control

  • I don’t know if I can trust others to do it properly

  • I’m unwilling for things to be done differently than the way I do them

  • I don’t have the time and effort available to invest in training someone else

  • I’m worried someone else will do a better job and I’ll look bad

What do you see in common here? Yep – “I”. Fear is all me, me, me.

It’s time to delegate.

In my Strategic Focus sessions, we run an exercise toward the end of the day around trade-offs and support requirements. All of a sudden, there are people who had plenty to say when we talked about problems and new initiatives that go very quiet. This is telling.

Delegating is one of the most consistently identified traits of a good leader – it promotes feedback-seeking behaviour, productivity and moral amongst teams, it delivers value for money from high-level positions – and it is also one of the hardest things to do.

But if we think about attention like William James did - and I believe it is – it might be time to figure it out.

“Attention is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what may seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought.. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others.” – The Principles of Psychology, 1890 (!!)

BONUS: I prepared a little tip-sheet on delegation for a client recently that a room full of managers afraid to delegate – if you would like to get your hands on one, click here and we will send you a copy through.

How to: Respect Your Paygrade

  • Get real – Track your time over a week and spot the tasks you’re spending time on that could be managed by someone else in your team.

  • It’s not about you – Figure out what silly stories you’re telling yourself that stop you from being a strong leader, and get out of your own way.

  • Delegate! Start small, with tasks not entire specific processes – and gradually increase the level and quantity of tasks delegated over time.

  • Let it go – Timing and quality might suffer in the short-term while new tasks are learned. It is unlikely this is the catastrophe you think it is.

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