Lee Anne Crockett: “Be Invested”

Be Invested — Delegating tasks isn’t just about getting work done in a time crunch. It’s about professional development. Start delegating tasks for the sake of challenging and developing your team, not just to get a project completed. Exposing your employees to higher level tasks helps you identify future talent and can boost morale on your team. As […]

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Be Invested — Delegating tasks isn’t just about getting work done in a time crunch. It’s about professional development. Start delegating tasks for the sake of challenging and developing your team, not just to get a project completed. Exposing your employees to higher level tasks helps you identify future talent and can boost morale on your team.

As part of my series about the “How To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lee Anne Crockett, MBA.

Lee Anne is a Sales Director for a large manufacturing corporation and has been successfully leading teams for over a decade. Lee Anne has professional experience in CPG and manufacturing, as well as B2B and B2C sales. She is also a Leadership Development & Career Strategist and works with women to super-charge their leadership skills and get promoted faster. In all that she does, Lee Anne focuses on instilling processes and the “how-to” components of learning and development, which allows her to help others lead purpose-driven careers that achieve their goals.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I have always had a passion for sales and have been in service-related jobs going back to high school. I love being able to form genuine connections with people and strategize to provide them with a solution that solves their problem. I have also always been drawn to entrepreneurship. After college, I was hired into a sales leadership role that required me to be an intrapreneur and run all aspects of my business, including selling and leading my team. Soon I was able to discover my third love, which is leadership & career development. From there, I was able to navigate my career with those passions in mind, making sure that each new career opportunity I considered allowed me the freedom to manage my own business, as well as to make meaningful connections with my customers and my employees. In 2014, I went back to school to pursue my MBA. During my time at Babson, I realized that starting a company of my own was a goal of mine. Since graduating, I have made a career move to a new role as a Sales Director, and have, as of most recently, launched my own coaching practice as a Leadership Development & Career Strategist.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

When I first started my career, I was in an extremely male-dominated industry. At one point, I was the youngest person, only woman leader, and only woman of color in my area. I have had to deal with ageism, sexism, and racism all at the same time! Also, because I was in a service-based industry, I have had to handle insults internally by colleagues as well as externally by customers. It became difficult to handle, but I never considered giving up. I always rise to a challenge and felt that I couldn’t allow name calling or off-color jokes to scare me away. This would allow them to win. Instead, I fought back. I excelled at my job, and I pushed back at times where I felt singled out. I’m not afraid to go to HR and over time I developed a thick skin. In retrospect, these experiences have shaped who I am and are what drives me to be a good coach. I can now be a resource for women who are facing these kinds of issues at work.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

When I first started my professional career in sales, I had to pitch a large customer. I was SO nervous and stumbled my way through the pitch. I barely made it out of there without sweating through my shirt or fainting (I’m being dramatic) but I did it! I got a phone call from the customer the next day and the buyer told me “You did a great job presenting solutions for my needs but you never asked if I wanted to move forward! I’m not sure what comes next.” I was so overcome with nerves that as a salesperson I forgot to actually make the sale and ask for the business! I still laugh about this, but it’s a really good lesson and one that I teach often. The presentation cannot speak for itself or stand alone. Even if your pitch is amazing, you need to ask the customer for a commitment and lay out next steps.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My coaching practice is founded on the fact that women (specifically women of color) are underutilized, undervalued and overlooked in the workplace. They are ignored. They have been taught that their voices don’t matter and that they aren’t as smart or influential as everyone else. They are underestimated and have been denied a seat at the table. I believe that these women not only deserve a seat but are capable of being the head of their own tables. My mission is to empower these women to break through the glass ceiling by cultivating their leadership skills and understanding the unwritten rules that are at play in terms of career advancement in our society. I focus on the “how to” tools of leadership development and employ a 4-step methodology for corporate career advancement that allows women a fair shot. You can’t play the game if you don’t know the rules and that’s what I teach my clients.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

  1. Recognize the warning signs.

Burnout can sneak up on you. It comes at a time when you, your mind and your body get used to being worked to the bone. Speaking from experience, I know to take a second to evaluate the situation when I start feeling the following: anxiety, not wanting to work, apathy, cynicism, constant exhaustion, and lack of pride in my accomplishments.

2. Prioritize your mental health.

When I recognize the warning signs, I know that it’s time to give my mind a break. I plan short walks throughout the day (5 or 10 minutes during breaks), listen to music to help calm me down, plan for some self-care, like getting my hair done or a massage, or just an evening on the couch watching tv — anything that can help zen me out.

3. Set boundaries.

While I’m working on self-care, I also need to set boundaries. Saying no is hard to do, especially if you are a people pleaser, but saying yes to someone else means saying no to yourself. So practice it! No, I can’t cover for you this weekend. No, I can’t help you review the report. No, I can’t stay late tonight. No, I can’t meet that deadline with such short notice. Be kind to yourself and make yourself a priority.

4. Know when it’s time to go.

Sometimes, even after working on work/life balance and setting boundaries, things may not improve. That’s when it’s time to decide if you need to move on and find a situation that better works for you. It’s a difficult decision to make, but I have been there. Once I was able to see that staying in the current situation was harmful to me and my health (mentally and physically — burnout affects both), I left and never looked back.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Professionally, I would not be where I am today without the support and guidance of one of my closest friends, Bieke Claes. We pursued our MBAs together at Babson and became fast friends. She is always supportive of my entrepreneurial spirit and tries to connect me with any relevant opportunities that come her way. Early on in our friendship, she connected me with Dreamers & Doers, which is an online collective for extraordinary entrepreneurial womxn, founded by Gesche Haas. Dreamers & Doers provides community to womxn who share similar experiences and who help level each other up in every way possible. Since I joined the collective, I have made life-changing connections. I found my business coach through their directory. I was able to conduct market research for my business and have even gotten clients through referrals from other members. Dreamers & Doers has showcased my offerings and provide a safe space where womxn can not only dream big, but can realize their dreams through each other’s help.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Delegating effectively is a challenge for many leaders. Let’s put first things first. Can you help articulate to our readers a few reasons why delegating is such an important skill for a leader or a business owner to develop?

Delegating as a leader allows you to involve your team in your work. This not only helps the leader by easing the burden of the amount of work that needs to be done by one person, it allows the employees to demonstrate their stretch potential. On more than one occasion, I have taken over teams and found that I inherited several promotable employees. They had never been given any attention or assignments that allowed them to showcase their additional skills, so they had constantly been overlooked. By developing talent in this way, a leader is also building their bench. This means that when they are ready to move to the next step, they have an employee ready to step into their role without a huge learning curve and without requiring extensive training to get them prepared.

Can you help articulate a few of the reasons why delegating is such a challenge for so many people?

People like being in control. Having control gives us power and authority over people and over the situation. We like to feel like everyone is looking to us for answers and for direction. The more we give up this control in favor of a more collaborative environment, the more each person involved shares the responsibility of the outcome and that can be difficult to manage.

Additionally, we also like to be the hero. We don’t like asking for help or accepting the fact that we need help. We don’t want to seem weak. We want to prove that we can do everything by ourselves without any kind of struggle or delay in deliverables. We want to be known and praised as the wonderkid and don’t always want to share the spotlight.

I don’t say this to say that we go around with nefarious agendas — much of this is subconscious.

In your opinion, what pivots need to be made, either in perspective or in work habits, to help alleviate some of the challenges you mentioned?

In terms of mindset, it’s important to always view ourselves as teachers. It is our responsibility to our team members to invest time and energy into their growth and development. The more we invest in them, the more they shine, and the more they shine, the more that light, in turn, illuminates us and our talent as a leader. Additionally, a lot can be accomplished by planning — knowing which employees need more time and instruction and which can take an assignment and run with it. Planning developmental time with your employees in advance of having an important deadline will eliminate the need to worry about the results and the timeline of the project. Knowing you have already been developing their skills allows you to trust their performance when timelines are tight and more is at stake.

Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.

Be Invested — Delegating tasks isn’t just about getting work done in a time crunch. It’s about professional development. Start delegating tasks for the sake of challenging and developing your team, not just to get a project completed. Exposing your employees to higher level tasks helps you identify future talent and can boost morale on your team.

Know the players involved — Understand the capabilities of your team and meet them where they are. Not everyone is great at sales or finance, and others may grow into these skillsets over time. Understand where each individual is, know their strengths and interests, and plan tasks accordingly.

Be clear — Overcommunicate. If you need something submitted for preliminary review on Tuesday at noon, make sure you communicate that — multiple times. Clear communication standards also models an example for your employees and shows them what to do in the future when they may potentially run projects on their own or have to delegate to their employees or colleagues.

Touch base often — Make sure you check in to help answer questions and remove barriers. The same way we can be resistant to asking for help, our employees are the same. They don’t want to let you down or disappoint you. Even if they say things are fine, make sure you are allowing for some sort of debrief or review(s) before the final deadline to ensure quality work. This helps both you and the employee develop confidence in their abilities over time.

Share the love — we tend to focus giving special assignments to the one big star on our team. While this can get them a lot of exposure and experience, it can also overwhelm them. The rest of your team may not have the same level of capability as your star, but make sure you are giving several people things that they can handle or empower your star player to delegate to help ease the overwhelm. Just because each member of the team is not your next replacement or bound for stardom, doesn’t mean that you can’t up-level each individual member to make the team stronger overall.

One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?

I have often found that we default to this saying when we are time constrained and don’t have time for a “teaching moment” with our team. We want to get things done, and we want them to get done quickly. The easiest and fastest way to execute at a high and efficient level is to do things ourselves. However, being a leader requires us to relinquish control, which can be a hard thing to do. In order for our employees to learn, we have to let them make mistakes. They will never be able to grow and showcase their potential if we don’t allow them the opportunities to do so and give them space to make mistakes. Delegating responsibilities and providing feedback in constructive ways allows you (in the long run) to rely on your team to help carry the load and to develop their talents.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The future is female and I believe specifically that supporting black women and their businesses is the cornerstone of achieving financial freedom, empowerment, and decision making abilities for future generations. According to an article published earlier this year, black women represent almost half of all new women-owned businesses (about 42%). While black women are opening businesses more often than other women, they are closing them almost as rapidly. We have seen this evidenced by the recession and again during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the businesses that survive are generally much smaller and make much less revenue. According to American Express, black women-owned businesses in 2019 earned an average of 24,000 dollars compared to 142,900 dollars for all other women-owned businesses.

Black women need the playing field evened and barriers removed. We need support: funding, education, experience, exposure, networking, mentors, coaches, allies, childcare, eldercare — the list goes on. And we need a place, a person, or a company that can provide us with these tools without having to search Heaven and Earth –oftentimes giving up mid-pursuit — to find them. I would love to start a company to make a dent in this area and help black women-owned businesses achieve the success that they deserve.

How can our readers further follow you online?

You can find me on my website at, as well as on Facebook and LinkedIn at Lee Anne Crockett.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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