Marine Corps Leadership: Ensure That The Task Is Understood, Supervised, and Accomplished

"What do you mean you couldn't read my mind?"

“What do you mean you couldn’t read my mind?”

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

I have said for the last few years, “unspoken expectations will be unmet expectations every time!” While that might be an extreme statement, it is meant to convey the reality of the principle, tasks must be given with authority and expectations.

There will be limited success if a task is given without the proper authority and expectations. Authority allocates the power needed to accomplish the task, expectations ensure the task will be completed in the desired way.

However, giving the proper amount of authority and expectations only ensures the task or project is started off correctly. In order to ensure it stays on track there must be a level of accountability.

This is where leaders or managers tend to struggle. For most, accountability becomes synonymous with either, micro management or authority. I’ve heard it said, when you delegate a task you get to determine it’s outcome, but not how it looks before it gets there. Micro-management demoralizes and exhaust initiative. Giving authority alone can create anxiety from wondering if what is being done is actually what the leader is wanting done. Or worse, confidence in what is being done is what is desired, only to find out at delivery that the task was completed incorrectly.

Accountability can be a series of direct-report meetings over time,with the leader asking questions to determine the condition of the direct and the status of the task. This process allows the direct to maintain given expectations, or pivot as necessary; as well as giving the leader a clear, over-all understanding of the project, allowing him to encourage or admonish as necessary. Thus being being involved with the project or task through the end, with out having to “manage” every detail.

How do you manage or delegate without micro-managing? 

What keeps leaders from sharing expectations?

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