Effective Delegation Is a Key Leadership Skill

Why do you delegate work? Let’s face it, most often we delegate work because we simply need help. We have competing priorities, time is short, and there is too much work to be done. That happens to all of us at one time or another.

Why don’t you delegate work? Insecurity can often drive us to hoard the resources and knowledge we’ve gained through our experiences. Instead of sharing that value and allowing others to help us – and growing in the process – we hold on tightly even when that means a deadline might be pushed or quality might suffer.

Neither of the above scenarios demonstrates quality leadership behaviors. The most effective leaders, however, know that delegation is a key tool in the proverbial leadership toolbox.

Appropriate, thoughtful delegation creates numerous opportunities for success:

  • It helps prepare others for future responsibility as they develop new skills, gain new knowledge and expand their contacts.
  • It can increase motivation and commitment of the person/team to whom a challenge was given (with appropriate direction, resources and follow up).
  • It can help improve responsiveness to customers as more people understand more organizational processes and can more quickly solve problems.
  • It can, ultimately, elevate your impact as your effectiveness increases and you are given more complex responsibilities.

The most important responsibility of a leader is to develop other leaders. Typically, this is accomplished through coaching, the “how to do” of the work; and through mentoring, the “how to be” of presence. Delegation offers another method that takes the doing and the being and ties them to professional and organizational growth and excellence.

There is both an art and a science to delegation. The art is the choices we make; the who, what and when of delegation. The science is the why and the how. The Alber Enterprise Center can help your leaders understand the difference, develop the skill and apply it through the workshop, The Art and Science of Effective Delegation. For more information, call 740-725-6325 or email alber@osu.edu.



Mission Possible


As a coach, I’m a student of talents, strengths, and weaknesses.  My mission is to serve leaders choosing to focus on developing their unique potential to build superhero strengths.  Long after they’ve taken the CliftonStrengths Assessment, and we’ve debriefed each theme looking at the pixels connecting them to more wins, our conversation turns toward aiming all of this acquired self-awareness at important life desires, outcomes, and goals.

Because, “talents and strengths do not develop in a vacuum,” the real moments of application happen when they are face to face with other people.  Gallup’s research proves, “Strengths develop best in the framework of mission,” serving those you influence.  Mission brings heart into what you do.  Heart added to a matter, encourages others to trust.  I’ve never met a leader who when trusted, didn’t want to find out how to dig deeper and bring more of their best to the surface.

We’re familiar with businesses having mission; not as much with individuals.  We’ve been taught leaders serve the mission of their organization.  True. Highly successful leaders are now passionately proclaiming their own mission.  Joining their mission with that of their organization is how they are impacting their world, bringing excellence time and time again.  Personal mission adds fuel to the equation of success, benefitting the individual and the company.

It’s a sure way to know, how one performs (with or without fuel), when one attempts to bring their best to the table.

Three characteristics of mission from Don Clifton (the father of Strengths-based Psychology) and Paula Nelson’s best seller, Soar with Your Strengths, (1992, 2010):

  • Mission must first be personal.
  • Mission must mean the world to you!
  • Mission added to your strengths is fuel to achieve more.

What means the world to you?

Mission transcends goal setting; it possesses an “eternal” quality.  It’s the difference between leaving an inheritance or a legacy.  Using your talents and strengths to drive your mission and your organization’s is setting an example for each employee to learn exactly what it is that means the world to them, and how they can bring this into their role.  Your mission will change as life changes.  Having previous mission statements is a great way to observe growth, development, and current why behind your doing.

What is it you do within your organization that makes a difference in the lives of those around you?

Why you do this difference making action, is your mission!  Your mission is your guide…layering profound meaning and motivation into all your thinking, feeling, and actions.  Motivation on those great memorable days, and even on the other days, that seem to sneak into our lives unannounced.

Would you like to learn exactly what you best bring to the table, fueled by a dynamic personal mission in 2020?

The Alber Enterprise Center welcomes and serves leaders just like you.  A clearly defined mission brings depth to your potential and helps accelerate what you want and need to make happen in 2020

Mission makes possible what otherwise might not happen.  Mission makes you a hero to those you serve.

A Time for Reflection

by Greg Davis, Department Chair and Associate Director, OSU Extension

This time of year provides us a time to reflect and practice gratitude. Most of us recently spent some holiday time away from work and with family or friends. These changes to our regular routine can illuminate many wonderful things we appreciate. Couple that with the fact that it seems to be dark for the vast majority of the day and it becomes easy to appreciate the simple things for which we may not have otherwise felt a sense of gratitude.

When we slow down and enable ourselves to be reminded of our many blessings, we realize how many others play a part in our lives. It is these relationships that give us meaning and connection. I was recently reminded that we can strengthen our relationships with others by simply sharing our gratitude for their specific actions. You can read more about this here.


Ten Truths About Learning

I’ve been in the Teaching-Learning Business for most of my life.  So, when an undergraduate group at The Ohio State University asked me to make a presentation that summarized what I had learned over the course of my career, talking about what I had learned about Learning was a natural.

Truth #1: Learning is Innately Pleasurable.  You may scoff.   You may disagree…and in a way, you are right.   That’s because too many schools and too many teachers have given Learning a bad rap and they have taken all the fun out of Learning.  However, just think about very young children whom you know and have known.  They are avid Learners— they encounter new “stuff” every day… they suck it up like little mental vacuums–and they are proud and delighted with all their new-found skills, abilities, and knowledge.  They know how much fun it is to be a Learner!  It really is fun to learn.

Truth #2: Learning is All Yours. Learning is a truly rare commodity in that it is something that is completely yours and nobody can take it away from you–ever!

Truth #3: Learning is Uniquely Your Own.  It’s a huge part of what makes you the individual you are and aspire to be.

Truth #4: Learning is Multi-Dimensional.  There is no single way to learn. There is considerable literature from mid- 20th century devoted to Learning styles.   Are you more of an Oral Learner or a Visual Learner?  Or some combination?   Do you want your new ideas neatly packaged, or would you like to discover them yourself?   Is your attention to Learning achieved better in the evening rather than in the morning?   If reading is a chore, audio and audio-visual materials are widely available.  Your local librarians are wonderful sources for lots and lots of “stuff”.  If they don’t have it in their collection, they will find it for you and get it to you in an astonishingly short period of time.

Truth #5: Learning is a Power Tool.  This is so obvious; I almost didn’t include it.   Learning leads to Knowledge.  And, as we all know, Knowledge Is Power.

Truth #6: Learning Opens Doors.  This is a purely practical reason for Learning.  Any job-hunter knows that.

Truth #7: Learning Limits are Boundless.      “I’m too old to Learn.”  No, you’re not!  That’s a cop-out.  Having been an “Advanced Learner” myself, I can attest to the fact that we older people Learn differently than our young classmates, and it may take a bit more time and effort.  Is it worth the effort?  Absolutely!

Truth #8: Learning Changes with Age/Experience.    What you take away from a Learning Experience depends a great deal on the life situation that you bring into it.  The more life experience you have, the more richness you will gain from the Learning Experience.

Truth #9: Learning Opportunities Abound.  The impact of the Internet on the availability of Learning Opportunities can’t be overstated.  You can find out “How to do” almost anything from plumbing to pot roast.  You can take a lesson or two in knitting.  You can take a course in almost anything.  You can earn a certificate in an area of special interest.  You can even earn an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited college or university—ALL ONLINE.

Truth #10: Learning is Infinitely Portable.  You can take your Learning with you wherever you go, and it doesn’t even need a suitcase!

Dr. Patricia (Pat) Schwirian’s lifelong work with health care and the aging provides a unique perspective. She recently agreed to work with Alber Enterprise Center,  facilitating programs such as the Elder Care Certificate.  Her experience includes years of teaching, research, publications, and consultation in health and aging, and she is Faculty Emerita for The Ohio State University.

High Performing Teams

High Performing Teams:  Three Pitfalls to Avoid

Have you ever been on a really great team?  Why was it great?

Great teams that accomplish amazing goals and are enjoyable to be on do not happen by accident.  It takes a savvy team leader and team members who are willing to risk sharing their unique strengths and differences for the good of the team.

How do we build these great teams and what are some of the pitfalls to avoid?

#1 – Negative Thinking

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.  Helen Keller

Building great teams starts with building a strong foundation of respect and trust.  Without these, the team will always struggle with communication, judgmental attitudes, personal agendas, and lack of valuable transparency.  Teams that have a foundation of trust perform better.  According to Paul J. Zak in his Harvard Business Review article, the Neuroscience of Trust, employees of high-trust companies as compared to low-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 76% more engagement, and 29% more satisfaction with their lives.  Wow – who wouldn’t want to be part of this team!

Given the strong importance for trust, why is it team members do not respect and trust one another?  I believe we need to take a good look in the mirror and determine to stop thinking the worst of our teammates.  We need to expect the best and not jump to negative conclusions.  We need to get rid of the stereotypes we think, believe, and act on about one another.

If we want to be part of a great team then it is time to start giving our teammates the benefit of the doubt, to trust them, to forgive them, to put ourselves in their shoes, to encourage them, and to share credit with them.  In fact, when we start thinking positively about one another, amazing things can happen.

#2 – The Meeting-After-the-Meeting

Great things in business are never done by one person.  They are done by a team of people.  Steve Jobs

Admittedly, I have on a few occasions been part of “the meeting-after-the-meeting”.  You probably know this pitfall too.  It goes something like this:  you sit through a meeting where the leader and maybe a couple of teammates do all the talking, enthusiastically make the decisions, and then the meeting ends with you feeling confused, in disagreement, or with a lack of energy.  At this point, the “meeting-after-the-meeting” occurs.  You stick around afterwards commiserating with another teammate about the terrible decision or you huddle somewhere to criticize and complain.

If we want to be part of a great team then we need to risk speaking up during the meeting and sharing our thoughts, ideas, and disagreements.  Obviously, we need to be respectful but if we do not speak up, the team misses out on valuable input and possibly the best idea for great success.  Let’s decide today to stop “meeting-after-the meeting” and make sure each team member is encouraged to respectfully speak up, ask questions, and voice concerns.

#3 – My Idea or The Best Idea

None of us is as smart as all of us.  Ken Blanchard

Which is better, my idea or the best idea for the team?   If you have ever been part of a great team, you probably responded with “the best idea for the team”.  Unfortunately, we often refuse to truly embrace our teammate’s ideas.  We may not outwardly say it but rather our refusal plays out in subtle ways.  We don’t take part in the follow up, we lack energy to stay on task, or we just plain do not do our part.

I may talk a good game about wanting the team to succeed but when their ideas do not benefit me or my personal goals, I may have a tendency to protect my own idea.  If we want to be part of a great team, then what is best for the team is to tap into and embrace ideas from all team members. I need to let go of thinking my idea is the best idea and trust the collective team for the best idea.  After all, “none of us is as smart as all of us.”  What holds you back from embracing change and others’ ideas?  Consider your motives and ways to overcome the fear of the unknown.  Once we accomplish this, then we are well on our way to becoming a great high performing team!


Embracing Strengths

Dr. Donald Clifton, the founder of CliftonStrengths®, asked the question, “What would happen if we studied what is right with people versus what is wrong with people? The CliftonStrengths movement is all about focusing on what we do well, while minimizing our weaknesses.”

CliftonStrengths is an assessment that can be taken (over 19 million people have) to identify your Top 5 Strengths (you can also unlock all 34 of your strength themes). You can then take a deeper dive into your strengths, see where they play out in your life, both professionally and personally. What you will most likely find is that areas where you excel can in some way be tied back to one of your Top 5 strengths.

For example, Relator is my #1 strength. The definition of Relator is, “People who are especially talented in the Relator theme enjoy close relationships with others. They find deep satisfaction in working hard with friends to achieve a goal.” Relationships, deep and meaningful, have always been an important part of my life, in general. In my work as an Organization Development Consultant, it is all about developing relationships. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work and it is something I enjoy very much.

Another strength, called Woo (winning others over), is defined as, “People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person.” This is not a strength of mine. Walking into a room of people I do not know is very difficult for me. WOO is #30 out of #34 for me. In those situations, I leverage my Relator and try and meet 1 or 2 people, rather than “work the room” and talk with everyone.

A group of leaders in Hardin County are currently going through an eight-session community leadership development program. This is for adults who aspire to or find themselves in elected, appointed or volunteer leadership roles in their communities. One of the key objectives is to offer educational experiences which will allow participants to explore who they are and how they are uniquely gifted for the work of leading.

For the last two years, Hardin Leadership has included a CliftonStrengths session from the Alber Enterprise Center. According to Kathy Oliver, Chairperson for Hardin Leadership, “Strengths is a perfect fit in the Hardin Leadership curriculum. We offer this session as the third one, just as the participants have become comfortable with the others in the program. They are ready to explore openly. I think these selected comments reveal the value the participants received from the session:

**I found the different strengths very interesting. This helps understand the different thought processes that people have.

**I can’t think of other people’s strengths as weakness just because they don’t align with my strengths.

**How to use my strengths to my advantage and to the team I’m building.

**Knowing others’ strengths can help you work together in a work environment.

**Thank you for the validation!”

There are so many ways to embrace your strengths. According to Gallup, “The highest level of performance comes from those who focus on strengths while managing weakness.” What you will find by taking this assessment is insight and understanding in a way that you most likely have not experienced before. Or, another way to put, you might have a light bulb moment!

 Take the opportunity to get to know yourself in a whole new way. You won’t regret it.

by Anne Johnson, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach

Anne’s Top 5 strengths are: Relator | Responsibility | Arranger | Learner| Belief

To take the assessment, go to: https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com

The Credible Leader

Credibility is the fundamental trait that every excellent leader must embody.  The traits of a credible leader are demonstrated by their words.  How many of these do you say on a regular basis?


What do you need?


Great leaders get things done through others. So after setting a clear course ahead, they ask regularly, “What do you need?”  After all, to ensure that our teams succeed, we must make sure they have everything they need.  Knock down obstacles, provide resources, guidance, and clarity.  We serve them so that they succeed.


Tell me more.


Great leaders don’t jump to conclusions, but hear out the full story so they can make better decisions.  Our team members crave being heard and when there are two sides, both sides want a full hearing.  Ask for details.  It’s the details that matter.  This runs counter to our culture of a fast pace and too much to do.  Great leaders know when to step back, slow down, and intentionally focus on the matter at hand.


Keep in mind our values…


If your team ever gets off track or is having trouble with a decision, elevate the discussion and go back to your core values.  It brings clarity and focus on what truly matters most.  On a regular basis, insert your core values into any discussion and watch how it fosters ownership and engagement.


I trust you.


Foster more trust with your team by expressing your trust in them.  This says you believe in them and have confidence in their skills and abilities to get the job done.  When we give others a great reputation to live up to, they will strive to reach it.  


Well done!


Great leaders celebrate and talk about high performance.  They cultivate gratitude when effort is shown, goals are met, or just when everyone pulled together.  It’s inspiring when it happens and great leaders talk about proud stories of achievement. 


So, how did you do?  How many of the above have you said to your team?  Less than perfect?  No problem.  Let this be a reminder to say what highly credible leaders say.


Here at the Alber Center, we have a passion for helping leaders be their best.  If this short article was useful, please consider partnering with us to help make this year your organization’s best ever.  Leadership matters and it would be an honor to come alongside you to foster the leadership that builds healthy, high-performing teams. 

How to Understand and Deal with Different Generations

To effectively deal with the four generations of employees and customers, we first need to get to know them.

Matures – born before 1946

These people could be your parents, grandparents or even your great-grandparents. They tend to be task oriented. Matures believe in rules of conduct and respect for authority. When they were young, they did not question; they simply did as they were told. Society was characterized by a militaristic, top-down structure. After all, many matures grew up during World War II or the Korean War. Members of this generation, for the most part, want conformity and rules.

There has always been inter-generational conflict. Members of the next generation (Baby Boomers) probably approached Matures with “You know, maybe there is a better way to do things.” Matures likely responded with, “No! This is the way has always been done. And it always will be done this way!”

Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964

Most members of the next generation of employees desire meaningful work, and to have a bottom-line impact on the success of the organization. But they also want praise, recognition and appreciation for their extra hours and hard work, as well as the resulting financial rewards that accompany them. Boomers live to work.

In general, this generation is probably the most materialistic of the four. The attendees of my workshops theorize as to why the generations act the way that they do. One attendee speculated that Baby Boomers are so materialistic because many of their parents, who were Matures, struggled financially while they were growing up. Therefore, Matures instructed their Baby Boomer sons and daughters, “We don’t want you to deal with the hard times that we had to endure. Go make something of yourselves!” So Boomers did.

Generation Y – born between 1965 and 1980

Many of my attendees who are Gen Y feel like they are the forgotten generation. “Everybody seems to talk about Baby Boomers and Millennials,” they say. “Nobody seems to ever mention us.”

Like the Baby Boomers, most of Generation Y wants meaningful work. But with that desire comes an important caveat: they also desire a healthy work-life balance. They want relaxed dress codes, flexible leave policies and a freedom to do their job. Finally, they want a boss who is sensitive to their need for work flexibility and family values.

Millennials – born between 1981 and 1995

The next group is currently the largest generation in the workforce. Millennials (or Generation Y), for the most part, want to participate on a variety of substantial, important projects, which will allow them to learn and use new skills, especially their technical skills.

Millennials desire work that is personally rewarding. Because, unlike Baby Boomers who live to work, Millennials only work to live. They believe in Y.O.L.O. – you only live once – so you need to experience all that life has to offer, especially outside the job.

This generation likely wants a boss who is more like a coach or mentor; they dislike bosses who are formal or hierarchical.

Some interesting facts about Millennials …

What percent of today’s adults are currently married with children compared to Baby Boomers of the same age?

  • Baby Boomers – 50%
  • Millennials – 12%

What percent of Millennials expect to stay on the job for less than three years?

  • 91% – which will translate into 15 to 20 jobs over their working lives

Where do Millennials want to live?

  • 41% say in or near the cities

The key to success in dealing with each of these four different generations is the platinum rule – do onto others the way that they would like to be done unto.


Marketing Your Small Business

One of the ideas I like to share with my audiences is for each of them to form an Advisory Council. Here is how it works: Once a quarter, take your best customers out to dinner to a fancy restaurant or country club. It especially helps if these customers are what best-selling author Seth Godin calls “sneezers,” people who are most influential in your community.

After dinner, ask your Advisory Council some questions like, “I’d like to give you a sneak peek at some new products and services we are thinking about rolling out. What do you think?” or “This is our new business plan for next year. What advice would you give us?”

And you know, it really doesn’t matter what they say. The important thing is that you made these people, who seem to know everybody in the community, feel important.

Not only will they be happy to meet other like-minded, influential members of the community at the quarterly meeting, they are likely to become lifetime customers themselves. (After all, who among your competitors are treating them so royally?)  Best of all, they likely will be unable to contain their enthusiasm around others about how you make them feel special.

After their quarterly meeting with you, if they overhear someone shopping for products or services that you offer, they are likely to chime in to the conversation, beginning with words like, “You know, if that is what you are considering, you really need to see my friends. They’ll take really good care of you!”

And we all understand the power of personal recommendation and that word of mouth is the most influential and effective form of marketing you can get.

And you too can get it, for the price of dinner and some drinks, simply by making your best customers feel important.

Seth Godin




The Park

Recently as I was driving to work (often times, I do my best thinking when I’m driving to work), I passed a city park. I quickly glanced over and saw steam rising and thought to myself, “I didn’t know that there was a small lake at the park.” My second thought was, “I have been driving by this park for over two years. Why have I never turned into here and explored?” The parks in my community are very nice and appear to be well kept. Yes, we pay taxes in the county where I live for the upkeep so one should really take the opportunity to enjoy them. This sent me down another road in my thinking process and that was, “This is like some of the organizations that the Alber Enterprise Center works with. When we sit down to have the initial conversation, our strategy is to listen. We listen to what the employer’s needs are. We ask questions to learn about what keeps them up at night. And there are many times what we hear is, “This is the way we have always done it.”

Many organizations have not ventured away from the typical “one and done training”. You know, the kind of training where you go offsite, spend anywhere from 4 – 8 hours in the training and when you get back to your office, the well-put together notebook of training materials goes up on a bookshelf, right along with the other trainings that you have attended. Does this sound familiar? I am smiling because I, too, had a bookshelf full of well-put together, carefully thought out workshops. Then, once I got back to the office, it was “business as usual” and anything that I had hoped to implement went right up there on the shelf with the other notebooks. And then…all was forgotten.

What does this have to do with my drive in this morning and seeing the park? Well, I would challenge organizations to veer off the path, think differently, look at the overall picture and wonder, “What could we do differently that would make a greater impact?”

A good place to start and one that I strongly recommend is asking your staff what training or professional development they would find exciting, energizing, and meaningful? You would be surprised how much thought they have given to that very question and will, most likely, provide you with a lot of good information, such as developing their skills as an emerging leader or maybe it is one-on-one coaching. Another possibility might be to identify their strengths and areas where they will excel or it could be a process to become “lean” and the ability to put a process in place to improve efficiencies.

Take off the blinders and look at your organization’s professional development with fresh eyes. Be willing to veer off that well-traveled path and explore. You never know what you might see or discover along the way.

P.S. – On my way home today, I veered off the main road and drove through the park I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. I learned a couple of things. First, there is NO small lake – it was an open field with early morning fog. (Lesson here – don’t assume). Second, the road took me back to a beautiful bird sanctuary and a scenic area for rest and reflection. My next adventure will be to go explore those. Robert Frost certainly said it best:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by; And that has made all the difference.

 What difference might it make for you and your organization?