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Delegate and Let Go


I am heading to France this fall--woe is me--and trying to learn some French. In my studies, I cannot help but notice French differs from English in some basic ways. For instance, while English speakers refer to a Russian singer, the French say chanteurs russe (singers Russian).


Three differences jump out: in English, the adjective almost always precedes the noun it is modifying. In French, adjectives sometimes are before and sometimes after the noun it modifies. In English, adjectives are never plural while in French, adjectives often become plural if the noun it is modifying is plural. (chanteur russe vs chanteurs russes.) English writers capitalize Russian; French writers don’t capitalize russe. For a native English speaker like myself, these differences make mastering French even more challenging.


While I struggle to become competent in French, I remind myself of the purpose of language. It is to allow people to communicate clearly with each other. Both French and English achieve that goal. The French understand other French speakers just as English speakers understand each other. Despite the structural differences, both languages allow for communication.


This made me think of the art of delegating. Often when I delegated a task, I would cringe when the person responsible for completing the task did things differently than I would. However, I had to remind myself that different strategies can accomplish the same goal. The steps taken were not important; completing the task well was.


I had to have faith that the person now doing the task understood the purpose of the work and her approach would get her there. And the vast majority of times, it did.


As I must embrace the French for its plural adjectives, when delegating, I must embrace the approach of the delegatee--a good rule for all delegators to remember.


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