Give It Up. Trust, Transparency and Delegation

Transitioning People Through Constant Change

In this series of posts I am exploring the Give It Up model in which we move away from the command and control of manager to the delegation and trust of true leaders. 



If leaders want to give up command and control, they have to trust their employees to do the right thing. When this happens, employees feel they are an integral part of the team. 

When employees have a leader who trusts them, they are more engaged and productive. Leaders need to trust their employees and let them get on with the job within the guardrails provided. Leaders must not then undermine this trust later by taking back control. Leaders need to be consistent.

Leaders have to demonstrate trust. They have to be self-aware to recognize when their actions may demonstrate a lack of trust. Trusting an employee doesn't mean that they know you trust them. Trust can be demonstrated by not admonishing an employee when something does not go as planned. Trust means tolerating mistakes and using them as opportunities to learn.

Leaders also need to demonstrate trust by not sending mixed messages. If leaders want employees to be creative and innovative, they have to trust them to do so within the guardrails provided. If leaders are risk adverse and not willing to experiment and learn from mistakes, there are mixed messages being sent. Leaders cannot be risk adverse and expect experimentation and innovation to occur. The mixed message infers a lack of trust. Employees hear ‘You are telling me to do one thing but not trusting me to do it.’


In order to give up the command and control, and move towards delegation and trust, leaders need to be transparent. Leaders need to share information. They need to be open and honest. Doing so tells employees that they are trusted with the truth. People often intuitively know when information is being kept from them, which translates to you don't trust me.

With transparency comes trust and respect. 

Being honest is perhaps one of the most difficult ideas for many leaders. When leaders learn to be transparent i.e. tell the truth, they have to trust their employees with the truth. For many, this can be a very big leap of faith. If leaders are truly transparent, they are telling employees that they trust them with the truth even in the most difficult circumstances.

Transparency also means leaders share their own mistakes and challenges with employees. Transparency equals integrity, honesty, vulnerability, humility, and trust.


To give up control means to delegate. When leaders delegate work to employees, they get increased productivity, quality, engagement, and motivation.

Delegation is more than just assigning a task to someone. Delegation is giving someone the responsibility for the outcomes you are looking for and the autonomy to achieve those outcomes in the way they see best.

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There are some key rules around effective delegation.

1.     Clarity: be absolutely clear of the outcomes you are looking for. Be clear about timeframe, budget, and frequency of communication such as progress updates.

2.     Hear it back: ask your employees to confirm their understanding of what is required to ensure there is common understanding. This is critical for successful delegation and if not carried out can result in disaster for all parties. The employee might think they are 100% clear about what you require and work relentlessly to achieve the outcome, only to find out that what they are working on is not what you wanted at all. It is devastating for both you and your employee and has an adverse impact on morale.

3.     Ensure capability: ensure that your employee has the required skills and capability to undertake the job at hand. Don't make assumptions. There may be some level of training or guidance needed.

4.     Open channels: ensure there are open channels for you to obtain updates on progress and for your employee to ask for confirmation or guidance. Be careful not to repeatedly ask for updates. Delegation means you trust your employee to get on with the job and provide you with updates as per the agreed communication frequency.

5.     Coach: just like the soccer coach on the sidelines provides positive feedback and reinforcement for the players, leaders need to do the same.

6.     Lessons learnt: the leader and employee should conduct a ‘lessons learnt’ session. What did the leader learn? What did the employee learn? What actions are we going to take to improve next time?

7.     Feedback: leaders and employees should give each other feedback. How can each do a better job?

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Winning teams don’t do great things because they were told to. They have the power to make great things happen. They are free to experiment, create and innovate.

In subsequent posts in this series I will be exploring the additional elements of the Give It Up model.

Karen FerrisComment