Letting go is hard to do. Would you agree?
As leaders, we must learn to let go of the tasks and responsibilities that others can do. Even if the quality dips for the short-term, there is much to gain long-term. Leaders need to be strategic thinkers and directors more than doers. The problem for most leaders who struggle to delegate is that they were once “doers.” Now they have leadership responsibilities but haven’t let go of the tasks they used to do. And most leaders are promoted into leadership roles because they excelled at what they did!
Do you see the problem?
It’s been said that people are often promoted to a level of incompetence. Someone excels in their job so we put them in a leadership role, but neglect to train them properly to be leaders of people rather than doers of tasks.
Another factor of why delegation is difficult is that “doing” leads to visible, tangible results while leadership is often intangible and rarely feels “done.” That’s because leadership is an ongoing process, not a project to complete or a box to check.
So, how can you effectively, strategically, and intentionally delegate?
1 – Identify tasks that someone else can and should do.
Write out your task list and your team members. What are the items that only you can or should do? What are the items that someone else can do 70% as well as you? How much time would be freed up in your schedule if you delegated? What could you do with that time?
2 – Develop your people so they can do the tasks well.
If you aren’t confident that your team members are ready to take on certain tasks, create a plan to develop them. Rather than being frustrated that your people aren’t able to perform well immediately, commit to developing them so they are. As a leader, you are responsible for their development. Send them to training. Coach them. Do whatever it takes to prepare them.
3 – Give people room to make mistakes and innovate.
Accept the fact that they will not do it perfectly immediately. Give them a clear picture of what needs to be done, then give them the freedom to struggle and fail as they begin to work on the task(s). Be available to help them as needed. Coach and guide them. Give them feedback. When necessary, sit down and show them how you do it. Have them imitate your way until they are comfortable enough to innovate and do it their way. As they get better at each task and make it their own, encourage them to keep growing.
4 – Continually evaluate what can be delegated and who can take it on.
Delegation is not a one-time activity. As you delegate, continue to look deeper at your task list to make sure that you are the only one who can do each item. Remember, as a leader you need to focus on being more strategic and directive. You need to focus on your people. You need to maintain a high-level view of your team and organization so you can advance most effectively. When you delegate, you are making the intentional choice to “stay out of the weeds” of daily tasks so you can serve your team, clients, or customers better. A good starting point is to make a weekly appointment with yourself to review the previous week and look ahead to the upcoming week’s tasks. Where did you delegate well? Where did you hold on too much? What should you delegate moving forward? Then do brief daily reviews so you will stay on track.
Delegation is sometimes difficult to begin, but once you delegate tasks to others, you will see the impact it will make on you and your organization. You will begin to look for more to hand off so you can experience more freedom to lead and develop people rather than do tasks.
Take action. Block time in your calendar to list all that you do and create a delegation plan. Then, meet with your team members whom you will delegate to and let them know what you need them to take on. Share your belief in them as capable team members. Give them a vision for how they can succeed, then walk alongside them until they make each task their own.
You can become a master of delegating.
I believe in you!
Until next time…make today GREAT!
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