In any profession, effective leadership is crucial for driving innovation and achieving project success. As a team leader, I know that I play a pivotal role in steering the ship. However, one common struggle among many leaders is the reluctance to delegate tasks, fearing that the final product may not match what we envision at the start. In the past two years I’ve actively and intentionally practiced being able to “Let It Go” and I want to share four tips and tricks that have really worked for me.
❄Recognize Unique Skill Sets:
One thing I have going for me is that I am always open and honest when there are things that I either don’t know how to do or that I’m truthfully just not that good at. In my current role as an edtech specialist, I’m not great at anything with spreadsheets, with setting up multiple system integrations, and with many of the functions that are closer to I.T. than edtech. I also know that I am a much better “teacher” than I am a “fixer”. When I possibly can, I avoid things like technical issues, rostering, and systems troubleshooting in admin panels of products – because I just don’t enjoy that work as much. I know what I bring to the table, and those things aren’t it. Lucky for me, I also know my team enough to know what they do well. By observing them, listening to what they like to do, and often from hearing feedback from people around the district, I’ve been able to align teammates with tasks that match their skill sets.
My tips for you: Every member of your edtech team brings a distinctive set of skills and expertise to the table. Recognizing and leveraging these unique qualities is key to unlocking the full potential of your team. Instead of holding onto every aspect of a project, identify the strengths of each team member and allocate tasks accordingly. Trusting your team members with responsibilities that align with their abilities not only fosters a sense of ownership but also enhances overall project quality.
❄Delegate with Purpose:
Sometimes leaders struggle with the idea that they should be able to do it all…to be a resident expert on all parts of a project. In the past few years, I’ve led several teams in different capacities, and I’ve learned that I’m much happier when I fully step back and let my talented teammates work their magic with the things at which they excel – and also what they enjoy doing. It’s important to give agency to team members by honoring not only their expertise, but also by honoring their wishes and the things that they get excited about doing.
My tips for you: Delegating doesn’t mean relinquishing control entirely; rather, it’s a strategic distribution of tasks based on individual strengths. Empower your team by giving them the autonomy to tackle specific aspects of a project where they excel. For example, if you have a team member with exceptional graphic design skills, entrust them with the visual elements of a project. This not only eases your workload but also promotes a collaborative and dynamic work environment.
❄Set Up Systems:
This is my favorite tip and has helped me the most. While recognizing that I don’t need (or want) to handle every detail of big projects, I’ve recognized that my own strength is in project management and what I call “setting up systems.” I set up the team for success by creating frameworks that guide the overall project trajectory. This lets me still feel like I have some control over the big picture, but also allows me to step aside and watch my team do what they do best.
My tips for you: Define clear roles and responsibilities, establish effective communication channels, and provide the necessary resources for your team to thrive. Be a support on the sidelines and do your best to just keep everyone on track. This way, you create an environment that encourages creativity and innovation while ensuring everyone is aligned with the project’s goals.
❄Quality Assurance and Final Touches:
I suppose this is my way of not quite fully letting go, but it’s helped me to make peace with my new style of leadership. Again – it’s a skill that I know I bring to the table. In the past year, one of my teams had a massive digital creation project, and every person on my team worked on parts of it. Before it went public, though, I just needed to review and finesse that final product. I fixed alignment issues, resized graphics and tweaked some of the graphics, made sure we had a unified font throughout the project, cleaned up some grammar, spelling, and syntax, and basically just massaged that whole project until I knew it was something we could all be proud to put out into the world.
My tips for you: While delegation is essential, maintaining a quality standard is equally crucial. As the leader and project manager, it’s appropriate to review everyone’s work and put the finishing touches on projects before they go public. This step ensures consistency and aligns the final output with the overarching vision. Consider it a collaborative effort where your expertise complements the specialized skills of your team members.
Leadership of any kind of team involves finding the delicate balance between delegation and maintaining quality that just makes you feel good about final products and results. Embrace the strengths of your team, empower them to shine in their areas of expertise, and establish “big picture” systems for them that guide the project’s trajectory. Remember, letting go doesn’t mean losing control; it’s about fostering a collaborative environment that propels your initiatives to new heights. As the captain of the ship, guide your team, but also trust them to navigate the waters and contribute their unique skills to create something truly exceptional.