The 10-80-10 Principle, Part Two: The Impact of the Final 10%

On Wednesday, I shared my favorite way to delegate. I explained the way I’m heavily involved on the front end of a project. During that time, I give my team five specific things (big picture, objectives, direction, resources/support, and responsibility) to set them up for success. Then I hand the next 80% of the work off to them. If you haven’t already, go back and read the post, so you’ll know what preceded this step in the process.

As I mentioned Wednesday, a lot of leaders have learned to do the first part of the 10-80-10 process. But to really make this work and take your projects to a new level, the leader needs to jump back into the project near the end.

These are the things I give the team at the end of the project:

1.  Experience

As the leader, I’m likely to have a lot of experience dealing with projects or situations similar to this one. Here is where I share that experience: I do it by listening to the team describe what they’ve done, what problems they encountered, and what solutions they came up with. And often, they’ll describe a situation that I’ve encountered before. I’ve lived it. And because of how I handled it in the past, whether successfully or not, I may have insight that I can share to help the team solve the problem this time.

2.  Questions

I’ve listened to the team describe the project, and now I’m ready to ask them questions about it. I ask questions that a consumer might ask. I raise questions that show the team where the holes are in their plan. Questions like, “What will you do if this happens?” This process gives the project integrity, because it forces the team to plug any holes in their idea and make it more solid.

3.  Ideas

This is what I call putting the cherry on the top. As we’ve gone over the team’s progress, I’ve helped them improve bad ideas, and I’ve heard a lot of good ideas. What I’m looking for now is a great idea. Sometimes I’ll have one to offer, something that came to light from all of the good ideas. Other times, I’ll ask the team to help me make ideas great, and together we’ll come up with some winners that we can use. This is a fun time, as new thoughts bubble up. Maybe our ideas will actually make the big picture bigger. Where we now need a new frame for it. During the first 10% of the project, we thought a lot of things. Now, in the last 10%, after actually doing the work, we know a lot of things. There’s a big difference between building on what you think, and building on what you know.

4.  Voice

At this stage, I stand up and put my name behind the project. I give it my leadership credibility and authority. I’ve done the work necessary to be assured that the task has been done with excellence, and now I support the team’s hard work by lending my name to it. This not only represents the project well to outsiders; it also supports and encourages team members, because they know I truly believe in them.

5. Leadership Intuition

The last thing I do is take this project and ask who’s grown as a leader out of it. There’s always someone who took responsibility for making things happen. Who owned this project? Did anyone step up and take ownership, even if they weren’t officially the leader? If you’re strategic as a leader, you can use delegated projects as a way to find and develop new leaders.

Delegation is a buzzword for leaders. We all know we need to do it; otherwise, we’re just doers. But to delegate well, you need to set your team up for success by investing your time on the front end. And I propose that you can further empower your team by spending time with them on the back end of a project, to make the outcome the best that it can be. That’s the 10-80-10 Principle.

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