You are not alone.
In my years of experience as a business leader I have observed there is one skill that consistently holds leaders back – the ability to delegate effectively. To be a strong leader in any business requires the ability to be highly skilled at delegation. Good leaders tend to be high-performers who have been successful by getting things done and delivering results. However, once they start to lead others, their skill set needs to shift from ‘someone who gets things done’ to ‘someone who leads a great team that get things done’.
Time is the great leveler. We can be more talented, smarter, determined or focused than others, yet we cannot get more time than anyone else – everyone has the same 168 hours a week. So, if you consider that you have the same amount of time in your week as a global CEO then how do they cover so much ground in the time available? The answer is delegation – building a great team and trusting them to perform instead of doing the work yourself!
Most leaders are aware of this, but for various reasons struggle to let go. The most common challenges leaders face in delegating work include:
- It’s quicker if I just do it myself
It’s hard to challenge this thinking in the moment. With looming deadlines and everyone being ‘busy’ it can seem that the best option is to knuckle down and just do it. As a one-off this would be no issue, but if it is a default behaviour then you are always going to be too busy ‘just doing it’ to be able to train someone and handover the work.
- As the leader, I should know how everything works
This is one of the greatest misconceptions of new leaders. Great leaders succeed based on their ability to build a team that deliver outstanding results. It’s not about one individual knowing everything, its about the team combining the skills and knowledge to deliver.
- If the team are delivering everything then what is my role?
This can be a challenge for some leaders. They hang on to activities and projects they should hand off in order to show they are productive and useful. Redefining what value you bring as the leader will help the transition.
There are also wider impacts as a result of leaders failing to delegate:
- You become the bottleneck in your business
What happens when you are away? A sign of a great leader is that the team performs equally well with or without the leader present.
- You limit the growth of your people
People will perform better and be more engaged when they are given the opportunity to grow. That’s what we all want isn’t it, to improve, be more valuable, feel more appreciated? People who feel appreciated will always do more than expected.
- You become overwhelmed and exhausted
A common issue with high performers is that they will put off their happiness ‘until this next project/initiative/issue is done’. The challenge is that as soon as this is complete, they’re onto the next big thing, and the next, never giving themselves the chance to recharge.
How to Conquer the fear of Delegation
- The first step is to challenge your belief about doing it better or faster than someone else. Whilst this may be true in the moment, once someone else has learned the process they can then become more effective and collectively you will achieve more. Who is the best person in your team to pick this up? Set up a time to discuss them taking this on and together work out the steps to enable them to be successful.
- If you have concerns around quality and timeliness from others’, set up support processes to ensure these are mitigated. Check in regularly, coach the person, ensure they feel supported to ask if they have concerns. This builds confidence in your people and your certainty in their ability to get the job done.
- Think about what delegating gives you. You can focus on the really important things, add more value, support and mentor others and be the strategic leader your business needs.