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The 3 D's of Leadership for Professional Women

Strategy for Women in Business

As professional women take on the task of leading teams, mastering the 3 D’s of team leadership: Decision-Making, Delegation and Diplomacy allows them to fulfill their roles in impressive fashion. For professional women, there is an emphasis on the Delegation “D,” because they often believe they have to prove their value by doing it all themselves

Decision-making is at the core of team leadership. The best skill team leaders can develop is that of helping a team build consensus to make decisions. This is both an art and a science. It is a skill that can be taught and improved with practice.

Solely the executive women, as leader, must make some decisions, but when working with teams, it is important for morale and motivation to involve team members. In Alan Weiss’ “Best Practices Consulting Seminar,” he identifies five approaches to decision-making. The skill is in knowing when to apply each of the five following approaches:
  1. The leader makes the decision by herself with no input from the team.
  2. The leader makes the decision by herself but asks team members for information on which to base the decision.
  3. Same as number two, but the team member helps to evaluate the information and provides input from which the leader will make the final decision.
  4. The leader has the entire team participate in providing information and help in the evaluation of the options, but the final decision is made by the leader.
  5. The leader turns the decision over to the team and accepts whatever decision is made.
The styles outlined above range between autocratic and group consensus to reach a final conclusion. Great leaders know when to apply which strategy in a way that reinforces the team concept, nurtures morale, develops people and gets great results.

One of the most challenging parts of being a team leader is knowing when and how to delegate. Professional women often believe they have to prove their value by doing it all themselves. Their real value is in creating greater productivity by engaging others in the process.

When working with teams, it is important to get everyone involved. All team members should be assigned a role with responsibilities, accountabilities and deadlines. But delegation is not abdication. The responsibility for what is being delegated remains with the person doing the delegating.

Many leaders have trouble delegating because of trust issues, either with the specific person to whom they are delegating or in general. In either scenario an initial discussion must include specificity around expectations and accountabilities to deadlines. Additionally, the discussion must also include feedback as to the comfort level in accomplishing the delegated assignment and a request to understand the amount of oversight, coaching and feedback the subject would like on the project.

Delegation is more art than science. It can be different each time depending on the parties involved and the type and complexity of the delegation and growth opportunity.

Diplomacy conjures up images of a powerful, respectful communicator negotiating important international treaties and alliances. This can be like negotiating the expectations and emotions of individuals on teams.

Diplomacy comes down to communication. It is a special style of communication that influences others in a positive manner, building trust and respect that gets results. Far too little communication from leaders today is specific enough to set clear expectations that can thus be met by the subject.

Effective leaders confront problems at first evidence. Ineffective leaders look the other way, hoping the problems will be self-correcting. They rarely are. Failing to address issues head-on exacerbates problems, allowing them to fester, creating gossip and low morale throughout an organization.

Mastering the “The 3 D’s of Team Leadership” allows professional women business leaders to create and lead championship teams that give them the respect and reputation necessary to move up through the organization to higher levels of leadership. If professional women focus on effective delegation, they will usually save themselves time, be better team leaders, increase the quality of the team’s results and raise overall morale.
Written exclusively for by Skip Weisman. For more information about team leadership go to