Does anyone know a simple game or activity to teach leaders how to delegate?


Try designing an activity where the leader has to describe to his team members how to build something or complete a certain task, with his back facing the team so he can't see what they're doing. Succeeding in this type of activity will require that the leader is able to use clear communication without being directly involved or micromanaging the situation. It will also require trust from both parties, and will force the team members to work together & help each other as they try to work out the specifics of carrying out the task.

You can follow the activity with questions about what the leader did well and what he could have done better, and also what was frustrating for the leader. Push them to articulate how this activity translates to work in their organization.

Here's a great example of this activity with a bit more detail:

Answered 9 years ago

You'll need at least 5 people (not counting 1 referee), 3 rooms so that people can't see or overhear one another, and 1 multi-page comic book with words and illustrations.

Divide people into groups of at least 5 – perhaps only 1 group. Each group will consist of 1 leader and 2 mid-level-managers with at least 1 junior employee per manager. Each manager and his or her employees constitute a department. One department handles pictures; the other handles text.

The leader can communicate only with the 2 mid-level managers.

Junior employees can communicate only with their assigned manager.

Managers and junior employees from the "Pictures" department must never be in the same room with those of the "Text" department. Managers aren't allowed to overhear or look at the work done by the other manager or their junior employees. In other words, "Pictures" and "Text" are completely segregated.

Only the leader can view the comic book – and only when alone. While communicating intentions to the managers, the leader must depend on a remembered idea. Between questions from the managers, the leader can review the original document, which he's trying to get the junior employees to reproduce.

The leader is not allowed to make notes or communicate except aloud. Managers are not allowed to take notes – only listen to orders and ask for clarification. The leader is not allowed to view the work of junior employees.

The leader's job is to describe the comic book separately to the "Picture" manager and the "Text" manager. They can each return to ask questions as many times as necessary. But at the end of the process, when time runs out, the comic book that resides in the leader's head should be reconstituted by the separate work of these 2 subgroups.

If the leader and managers communicate well, then the teams will create a close replica.

Answered 9 years ago

In my program, "The Success Principles of Olympians, Presidents & CEOs," I share five principles, one of which is delegation. To bring the simplicity of delegation home to the leaders, ask these two questions?

1) Despite the fact that you may be able to do it better yourself, do you actually grow all your own seed, fruits and vegetables and raise your own beef, chicken and pork? Or do you delegate everything related to that responsibility to your grocer?

2) Instead of growing your own cotton, weaving your own fabric, and making your own clothes, don't you delegate every aspect of that responsibility to merchants who provide you with excellent results in a timely manner for a reasonable fee?

Delegation is a mindset. These two word pictures can be used along with other activities to bring home the simplicity of delegating once one accepts its benefits.

Marnie Swedberg,

Answered 9 years ago

After 40 years in business, including 25 years in the C-Suite, with 3 different corporations where I led small teams of 5-10 employees to a division of 1000 people located around the world the same approach works in each circumstance with adjustments for cultural norms (e.g., delegating to a Japanese employee is a little different than to a European or US-based individual). First, one needs to accept delegation is not abdication. Then begin by asking good questions of the candidates you want to delegate to so you're certain that the person is bringing an educated point of view to the situation. Once you're convinced you have the correct person then apply routine project management techniques beginning with a description of the scope and objectives and having regular status reports. Finally, and most importantly, keep the delegated activities simple, measurable and visible. Visibility works wonders in successful delegation.

Answered 9 years ago

Have you ever done an escape room? Our organization has seen a lot of business using these as team building events.

This could be a really fun way to have one of your leaders practice delegating. Escape rooms provide a clear end goal but present lots of obstacles along the way that require a team to work together.

We have seen some of the best leaders excel and flounder through these experiences and they create a fun environment for feedback.

There are certainly tons of ways to develop a leader in the art of delegation but this has been a fun way for us to practice it.

Happy to chat over the phone in more detail if that is of interest.

P.S. Most escape room businesses will let you watch your teams in the control rooms on cameras so you can take notes while they're playing :)

Answered 5 years ago

At the beginning of the 20th century, the predominant model of management was the model of direction, based on the idea that people had to be directed to perform work. By the start of the 21st century, that model had been replaced by delegating, based on the idea that people will work willingly if well-led and empowered. In this model, we will see this change through 3 types of organisations.
1. Management by Control: The early Ford motor company model of management, which was appropriate to the times, was management by control. People were not seen as anything different from any other resource. They were a measurable cost. In the worst kind of control organisations, instead of developing people, you get these results:
a. snooper vision (time clocks, hidden cameras, guards)
b. rules not reasons
c. excessive discipline by management and excessive grievances by employees
d. an obsession with objectives, targets, and results
e. a desertion of employees until it all goes “pear-shaped”
f. a desertion of employees until it all goes “pear-shaped”
g. attention only on low or high achievers
h. high absence and turnover rates.

2. Team Management: The following advert from Volvo in the 1990’s shows the company’s social approach to working: “Henry Ford started the assembly plant. Now Volvo has stopped it. For natural reasons. Inside Volvo’s latest car plant at Udevalla on Sweden’s west coast is “the greatest step forward in the history of modern car production.” The assembly line is gone; instead a small team builds a complete car. The team see themselves as a family. Their way of making cars is more natural and often more efficient than the traditional assembly line. They confirm Volvo’s belief that responsibility, involvement, comradeship, and joy increase work satisfaction and raise product quality. Volvo’s thinking is quite natural: build a car with commitment, pay attention to quality and the customer will soon notice the difference.”
3. Trust and Co-operation: When Yutaka Kume took over Nissan in 1985, the outlook was bleak. He found what he called “an inward-looking bureaucratic culture”. Kume first modernised the facilities and then created a research and development team that was recruited from the best graduates of that year. Then he created a new kind of culture. The young group, whose average age was 28, had no fixed hours, no top official in charge, and no history of failure. What they had instead was heaps of enthusiasm. They knew they were creating a car that they themselves would want to drive. When the car they produced, the Silvia, eventually came to market, it outsold its competitors and was voted “car of the year”. Nissan, using delegation, empowerment, and self-directed teams, had triumphed. Whatever the predominant management styles of the last 100 years, the most successful companies have been those which became experts in the predominant style. That is why today, if you want to succeed, you must become a skilled delegator and empowered.
Delegation is changes as the management styles changed in the course of time. Let us look at the different management styles.
1. Scientific Management: The theory of scientific management was the first recognized theory of modern management. It became popular in the first decades of the 20th century principally through the writings of Henri Fayol, a mine manager in northern France. Fayol was the first writer to lay down the rules of how businesses should be managed. He created 14 principles which he believed would lead to success with scientific certainty. These principles included some of the ideas we take for granted today such as, everyone should have one boss, and everyone should specialize. The ideas of Fayol were put into practice in some of the most successful enterprises in America, including the Ford motor company. Other people, like Frederick Taylor, proved that, by calculating what people could produce, management could be reduced to a measurable science. Scientific management was the ideal management theory for the late industrial age. It resulted in amazing changes in the marketplace as well as huge strides in material living standards.
2. Systematic Management: In scientific management, the role of the manager was to get as much production out of people as possible. It assumed people were only interested in making money. This definition of management’s role proved too narrow for many thinkers. People like Lyndall Urwick believed that the manager had a wider responsibility for the organization as a whole. As a result, systematic management was born. In systematic management, the manager’s role is to manage every function he or she is responsible for and to see that they all serve the purpose of the whole business. The organization, division or team thus becomes a distinct system. In many ways it’s like a human body with its different systems such as the circulatory system, the nervous system, and the respiratory system. The systematic manager must make sure they all work well, all work together, and continue to work well for the future.
3. People Management: Around the middle part of the 20th century, the emphasis in management shifted from its earlier focus on production and productivity to people. In the 1930’s and 40’s, a string of experiments was carried out to discover just how you could get people to work to their best. Motivation theories became the holy grail of management. Some of the results were astonishing. Elton Mayo, for example, discovered that people would happily work harder in the most miserable of conditions if they were treated properly. Thus, began a series of theories on motivation which dictated management theory from the mid-1950’s onwards. People like Abraham Maslow and Frederick Herzberg changed the way managers thought about their role as people leaders and were the first to underline the importance of ideas such as teamwork, incentives, and personal motivation. Management became a task that required an understanding of people and what made them tick.
4. Contingency Management: In the last decades of the 20th century, the number of management theories burst through the roof. Whereas there had been only a handful of books on management theory in the post-World War 2 years, there now were hundreds, all proclaiming that they had the secret to what management was all about. Instead of one theory that everyone could subscribe to, now it was about adjusting your style to fit. Thus, was born the idea of contingency management: if it works, run with it, if it does not, do something else. Managers were now expected to be able to move around the styles of management with ease: now directive and autocratic, now listening and democratic; now tough and uncompromising, now hands-off and delegating. Professor Fred Fiedler and others even devised charts to show when a manager should be directive – for example in an emergency or a crisis – and when he or she should be hands-off – for example, when the team was mature. The manager’s role became more professional and more competency based. From having started the century with certainties, the end-of-the century manager had to live with no certainties, only possibilities.
5. Managerless Management: Managerless management sounds like a contradiction in terms but it is not. It means supporting and helping the team without interfering. It means developing teams so that they can manage themselves and take their own decisions, relying on the manager only for those things that the team cannot do themselves, such as bringing in information from a wider organisational perspective. Managerless management works where teams are mature enough to take responsibility for managing themselves and each other. It requires high levels of trust by both team players and managers themselves. The skills needed are the highest level personal and interpersonal skills, such as personal awareness, assertiveness, honesty, communications, listening, and integrity. When it works, manager less management can be an inspiring way of working which acknowledges the value of everyone in the enterprise.
Delegation and empowerment are two of the most important skills of management today. They chime with what people want and expect at work. They hold the key to motivation. And, when used with skill, they create people who deliver much more than you ever thought possible. If you have been wondering whether you should embrace empowerment in your team or organization, here are some of the extraordinarily strong reasons why you should.
1. Command-and-Tell Is Out: Until very recently, the only conceivable form of management in our organisations was a command-and-tell one. That’s one where the person at the top issued all the commands and sent them down the line. This structure is no longer guaranteed to work. Why? Firstly, it is inappropriate for modern forms of business, where things move quicker than ever before. And secondly, a more aware, educated, and informed workforce won’t wear it.
2. Competitive Advantage: Organisational survival is more dependent than ever on the customer. Around the turn of the last century, it may have been OK for Ford to say the customer could have any colour “as long as it’s black”. Not anymore. Today, customers can simply go elsewhere. The fact is, that all the traditional variables of business – raw materials, systems, management – are no longer exclusive. The one thing that does mark you out, though, is the kind of experience that customers get. And that depends on how your employees behave. Shackle them by telling them they are too stupid to take their own decisions and you will lose whatever competitive advantage you had. Empower them and you’ll gain it for good.
3. We Are All Managers: We all lead more complicated lives than ever before. The average adult now must manage what is in effect a dynamic business in their own domestic lives. They have mortgages to manage, money to manage, relationships to manage, children to manage, households to manage, social lives to manage. And yet, when they come to work, we often give them simple and meaningless tasks to perform. And then, as an added insult, we appoint someone over them with the implicit message that they are not up to it.
4. Team Power: It is now widely recognised that the most productive unit in the organisation is the Team. The team together can work with each other in a much more powerful way than the individual and the boss can. This is because there are no barriers of status, no distinctions of rank, and no blurring of purposes. The team can, quite simply, focus exclusively on their goal. If managed well, teams can produce ideas, opportunities to achieve and a synergy that surpasses the contributions of individuals on their own. Old “command-and-tell” approaches to people were based on managing people one-to-one; new approaches focus on the team.
5. Employee Expectations: Our parents’ and grandparents’ generation had a different view of the workplace than we do. Theirs was a “job for life” mentality in which do-as-you’re-told loyalty was rewarded with a job from 15 to 65. Today’s generation neither wants nor expects to spend their whole life working in one organization. When surveyed about what they want from a job, “the chance to work independently” and “the chance to learn” always come higher on the list than money and security.
Keeping in mind all the above factors I will suggest the following games that may be helpful:
1. Minefield: Have group discuss things that are detrimental to functioning as a group. For each characteristic/action, throw an object into the playing space, the "minefield." Have group choose partners. One partner is blindfolded at one end of field. The non-blindfolded partners stand at the opposite end of the field and try to talk their partners through the minefield without running into any of the obstacles.
2. Stick: Everyone in group touches stick at same time. Break stick in half and repeat. Continue until stick is very small.
3. Group Juggle: Establish pattern of tosses including everyone in a circle. Add additional objects periodically. This is a good way to help a group of strangers remember at least one person's name forever. 1. Have the group stand in a circle, fairly close together. 2. Toss a ball across the circle, calling out the player's name to whom you toss it to. That player tosses to a different player and so on until everyone has caught the ball and thrown it on once. It should be back in your hands at this point. 3. Repeat the sequence a couple of times. Add a second bell and then a third. Add as many balls as you want. The game ends when no one will play anymore.

4. Wind in the Willows: A variation on trust falls involving the entire group. Group stands in a circle with one person in the middle. Person in middle falls in any direction, trusting spotters to catch him/her and stand him/her back up.

5. Blind Walk: Divide group into pairs with one member of each pair blindfolded. Seeing partner leads blind partner on a walk. The walk should be challenging, including such obstacles as climbing over tables, crawling under chairs, walking up or down stairs, climbing over railings, etc

6. Similarity Charades: Divide into smaller groups. Each group discusses their similarities and acts out for other group to guess.

7. Group-Jump Rope: Given long piece of rope, group tries to jump rope simultaneously (again, easier to start with simple task - one or two people - and work up to larger goal gradually)

8. Blind Shapers: Group is blindfolded or with eyes closed. Have group form themselves into a square or a triangle, etc. Can use a rope with everyone holding on.

Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

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