You’re in Charge – So Why Don’t You Delegate More?
Have You Asked Yourself Lately. . .
“What really is my role right now — and is it on track to help or hurt my business?”
Are you 100% intentional in how you spend your time at work? For many business owners and leaders, anytime is work time — and their days are typically overstuffed with meetings, appointments, firefighting, problem-solving – you name it.
As a leader and influencer, you are constantly flexing roles – at any given time you may function as a leader, manager, coach, mentor, supervisor, and sometimes, a “worker bee.” The problem is, it’s very likely you have worker bees that you’re paying – and chances are they are capable and eager to do some of what you’re not letting go of. Delegation is defined as the act of:
Entrusting (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself.
The key word here is “entrust.” It means giving someone a specific responsibility (and then trusting them to do it). If you find you don’t have enough time or energy to lead your business forward, it’s time to ask yourself several important questions:
- Do you have a clearly defined picture of the future you envision for your business?
- Do you regularly take the time needed to “think your business ahead?”
- Do you know what truly merits your time and personal attention?
- Are you willing to entrust some of the things you currently do to someone else, so that you can address the 3 previous questions?
- If not, search yourself for what’s holding you back. Why don’t you delegate more?
First, Seek Clarity
Do you know with certainty what is most important to you and your organization? Are you clear on what, why, and to whom you need to delegate?
If you have not yet done a Blueprint for your business, the time is now. This deceivingly simple-looking tool helps you map out where you are now (Current State), where you want to be (Future State), and the actions and deliverables needed to make the future happen. Sound leadership wouldn’t invest in or begin building anything without a clear blueprint as a guide. It’s hard to delegate anything without having a set of plans with clear directions, specifications, and desired outcomes established.
Business owners or managers don’t delegate because they don’t plan or have a plan. They don’t plan because they are caught up in a cycle of doing tasks. At some point you have to declare you are getting off the “hamster wheel” and value time-planning. Enlisting others to help with that can be the one thing that changes everything. How do you delegate something to others when they haven’t been enlisted or enrolled in it from the beginning? It’s very difficult – and also ineffective.
If you’d like to learn about the Blueprint and how to make one, you can download my Blueprint for Leadership Tool at: https://www.heartwoodgroup.com/transformational-resources/
Know Your True Priorities
What leaders must focus on is key. You only have so many “awake” hours a week. You are finite and you had best start with that reality to get your priorities straight. What you focus on has the greater possibility of coming into being. What you don’t choose to focus on has practically no chance of happening. We all know this is just common sense, but we resist and treat our focus like a set of lottery numbers. Maybe we will win this time! Reality always brings us back to a set of decisions. Will you decide today what is a priority and make that a sacred contract with yourself? If people are a priority, then your calendar and actions had better reflect that.
What you don’t choose to focus on has practically no chance of happening.
What can (and should) others be responsible for? This often gets off to a bad start due to a lack of role definition or accurate job description. And these are things you can’t fix in a hurry. It takes work and focus. Here’s how to start:
- Quantify all the work that needs to get done.
- Inventory all the available people and talent you must engage towards it.
- Start matching them up and you will soon see where you have gaps or opportunities for your team.
This is part of being a leader. You need to make leading your #1 job. Every day.
Assess Your Resources
Do you know your employees’ capabilities? Their strengths and weaknesses are important for you to know. Much of the success of delegating is built upon the personal knowledge and relationships that you have with your employees and managers. You can know if they are ready or confident enough to take on more responsibility. How much can you stretch them without limiting their confidence?
Developing your people resources is a key task that you need to consider your greatest task. Preparing people for the future is not just good for business, but good for you, them, and their quality of work and life. It’s a balance to make sure you are giving people more and more ownership of tasks — and training them to do those tasks. If they do fail, will you treat it as an opportunity to learn — or a chance to recapture the tasks for yourself? We have to take risks and this is a delicate area for every leader.
Empower Others to Grow
How to delegate effectively comes with practice. However, it starts with just delegating something. Get started and see how you can build momentum. If you are a neurosurgeon at a major world-class clinic, you likely won’t delegate brain surgery to the next person you see in the hallway. But even the most complex tasks have some parts that with guidance you can entrust others to complete.
With responsibility comes accountability. Increasing the amount of responsibility has everything to do with having an effective relationship with those to whom you are delegating. Not everyone will respond or perform up to your expectations. You need to make sure that accountability runs both directions. Did you give them the training, knowledge, and support to do the tasks? If yes, will you hold them accountable?
The Goal is More “Being” a Leader & Less “Doing” Leadership
It starts with self-awareness of what your strengths are and aren’t. Do you realize the best thing you can do is give important tasks to others? Why? When you stop holding “actions” hostage they actually get done faster and often with more expertise. That’s really a good thing, isn’t it?
Maintaining a leadership focus is a key to success. We are always focused on something. Something is getting your attention now and it might not be a good thing if it isn’t a high value task. What’s getting your attention? Should it be?
Let your people do what you hired them to do. Simply start getting out of their way and let them shine their light! It doesn’t mean you won’t have input and contribute. It just means you are building leaders, not limiting them. Sooner or later the bird has to leave the nest and fly on its own. Release your employees and let them fly. Pick them up when they fall. Grow to understand who you need to be to successfully lead your for team forward.
Here are some outcomes you could expect if you embrace delegation seriously.
- Your business will be more successful without you losing any power, authority, or major control over what gets done. It just requires you to delegate correctly and skillfully.
- It builds trust in your workforce and frees them up to get on with jobs and take initiative. By doing so you will learn a lot more about what they are truly capable of doing and passionate about.
- You can turn your mistakes into learning opportunities, not excuses. It puts a lot of pressure on both you and the person to perform. You will both feel better about yourselves.
- You will gain invaluable time to think. Yep, it feels like I’m doing nothing when I just spend time thinking. But, part of your role is to be planning ahead and recruiting the talent you need for success.
- Confidence and respect will begin to be a powerful aspect of your culture. Knowledge is what breeds confidence and delegation breeds knowledge. Your own confidence will grow as well!
- TRUST — so many organizations lack this important ingredient. It is the lifeblood of any successful business and leader. Without trust you will never achieve the levels of performance you want and need. Think about a business goal you haven’t achieved…is there some lack of trust at the root?
- Increased likelihood of having the right people STAY in the right place in your business. Why would they want to leave to go somewhere they can’t be free to thrive and grow?
- You will have greater role clarity and agility. People will be able to move within your organization and take on a broader set of work skills. You will need to get really clear on what can be delegated and what cannot.
There are many more I could list, but I think these are a good start. As leaders we far underestimate the connectedness of our actions to the outcomes of our business and the actions of our people. You don’t have boundaries on your personal time so you start to impose on the personal time of your people. You don’t delegate so your managers don’t do it either. It all starts and ends with you.
As leaders we far underestimate the connectedness of our actions to the outcomes of our business and the actions of our people.
Ultimately, business owners need to recognize that delegation can help a business grow and prosper, and that good employees, when used intelligently, can be a significant advantage in the marketplace. “The manager who wants to learn to delegate more should remember this distinction,” wrote Thomas S. Bateman and Carl P. Zeithaml in Management: Function and Strategy. “If you are not delegating, you are merely doing things; the more you delegate, the more you are truly building and managing an organization.”