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Do you give your team specific guidance or broad guidelines?

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: Do you give your team specific guidance or broad guidelines?

  • I give them very specific guidance: 28.67%
  • I give them broad guidelines and let them figure it out: 71.33%

Set direction and set them loose. We hear a lot about “empowerment” but almost a third of us aren’t doing it.Setting guidelines for your team members and then letting them take action has tremendous benefits.  They feel in control, they learn (many times by making mistakes), they feel trusted, and they come up with their own creative solutions you might have missed.  The big reason we give specific guidance is we fear failure.  If we control their behaviors then we control the risks is the thinking.  Unfortunately that rarely plays out as it should.  Take some risk.  Be bold and set direction then walk away.  You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS and author of “Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results” and “One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership.”