Delegation – How to Catch Monkeys

Some villagers in Africa were having problems with monkeys stealing their crops.

One resident devised a plan to place several large pumpkins in the vegetable patch. He then carved a small hole in the thick skin of each pumpkin through which the monkeys could slide their hands to grab the seeds. What he knew was that the monkeys would take a hand full of seeds and then try unsuccessfully to withdraw their hands.

Because the monkey desperately wanted the treat it WOULD NOT LET GO. AS A RESULT IT WAS TRAPPED.

What then do monkeys and pumpkins have to do with delegation?

Delegation challenges often occur when  leaders will not let go of a task where they are very skilled. As a result they do not have the bandwidth to move on to other leadership tasks like devising strategy. Such over committed leaders

  1. View this domain as their primary identity.  They mistakenly believe that they are the only ones who can competently do that job and forget that knowledge transfer is a key part of effective leadership.
  1. Restrict themselves from moving on to other important leadership tasks.  Recently I encouraged a leader to fill his schedule with visits to customers where he would engage them in discussions as to how he could become more of a strategic partner. This would leave him little time to get down into the weeds with his reports in attempting solve their problems for them.

The discipline and skill of delegation is so vital for leadership effectiveness in more senior positions.


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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