There is this concept called ‘group transactional memory‘. Simply, this is your ability to allow memories you need or want to be stored within someone else. Let me give you an example. My wife is our family calendar. I unconsciously (and maybe a little consciously) don’t remember anything regarding our family calendar because I ‘rely’ on her memory to store this information.
I’m completely a Transactional Memory Leader!
I’m not the guy who knows everything in HR and Recruiting. I’m the guy who knows the people who know everything in HR and Recruiting. Why should I remember every single piece of HR technology when I have a half a dozen friends who I know will know the answer I need. Why would I remember every aspect of employment branding when I know at least five the top employment branding minds on the planet?!
I’m an inch deep and a mile wide. Some folks are a mile deep and an inch wide.
Frequently you’ll hear older people say “a piece of me died” when their long term companion dies. By the group transactional memory theory, this is actually true. If my wife would die, I would lose so much memory I can’t even tell you. She makes way better than I could ever be on my own. She’s like this awesome additional hard drive add-on that no one else has. A secret weapon!
She allows me to fill up my memory capacity with all the stupid stuff I fill my days with, and she handles all the personal daily stuff. For her, I fill my memory with stuff like directions and well, mostly directions to places (I’m also really good with movie quotes in case she needs a movie quote at any time!).
I think the best leaders are also group transactional memory leaders.
I surround myself with really talented, dynamic people who all have various specialties. I then let them do what they do best, knowing that if I need that knowledge, it’s there for me to tap into when I need it. Why would I learn every aspect of some process, when I know I have someone who is already doing that for me?
I think we used to call that delegation, but for me, transactional memory is delegation 2.0.
To me, the best thing a leader can do for their teams is to allow them to be this group transactional memory buddy. Give them your trust that when called upon to use their memory banks they’ll come through and be that personal memory bank you needed. This trust that they will perform when needed if the basis of leadership.
My wife will probably read this and think “I can’t believe he found a scientific way to be lazy!” She’s probably right! I’m really just looking for more capacity for more pop culture references and athletic statistics!