A Catalyst Leader delegates authority, not just tasks. If you only delegate tasks, you will create followers who blindly do what you say, but will not be able to lead the organization after you are gone. A Catalyst Leader creates a safety net to allow their team to decide the path they will go down, support them when they fall short, and celebrate them when they succeed.
George Patton said, “Never tell people HOW to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”
Unfortunately, there are many managers who feel like they need to delegate tasks and not the ability to decide how to go about doing those tasks or end up at the desired destination. This may come from a number of places including the fact that most people are promoted based on their ability to do technical work, not their ability to lead. It might have something to do with being told to be the “go-to person” or don’t show your ignorance.
The world is changing faster than ever before. Things are very dynamic. There is no way one person can have all of the knowledge of everything, even if it is just in their industry. It would be cool if one person could have all of the internet in their brain. We need leaders who will share a vision, or state a problem, and allow their team to figure out how to solve it.
Today, I would like to thank Matt Totterdale for sharing his vision for our business as a specialty pharmacy startup within a larger corporation and giving his team the ability to go solve those problems in our own way. When I think of my time at Anthem/WellPoint, we accomplished so much. We provided medication to very ill people, we built a couple of pharmacies, I hired a bunch of people, we implemented (and fixed) an ERP and a case management system. Those years feel like a blur for a number of reasons, we accomplished so much in such a short period of time and we were solving really big problems with limited resources (including people). When Matt left Anthem, we were about to embark on a really big thing. He knew he was leaving but we didn't. He said to the partner and to his team, "I know this team can get this done." He knew that even with him being gone, we could do it without him.
He said, “I just stayed out of the way.” But he gave us the direction, had faith in us, gave us as many of the tools he could provide. He was (and I’m sure still is) a great leader. I am grateful to have had the opportunities he provided to me so early in my career.