One of the most difficult personal challenges a leader can have throughout their career is to delegate some of the work they are doing to others. It’s unfortunate that all too often a crisis happens before a leader realizes they could have done a better job of delegating. A health issue, a need for extended time away, or a missed promotion can make a leader regret handing over the work they should have given to others.
You probably already know you should delegate better. And you have plenty of reasons why you continue to do the work that someone else should be doing.
Yet if you were really honest with yourself, you might realize that this situation is really about CONTROL, FEAR, and an ASSUMPTION.
CONTROL: You don’t delegate because you think (often erroneously) you can control the outcome of the work to your liking if you just do it. What really happens is that your need to control is a source of confusion to your best people who want to do the interesting work that you are hoarding.
FEAR also enters into the equation here. Fear has a mighty hold on you because you don’t think the work will get done right by someone else (“done right” likely means that your way is the only way you believe it can be done). Realistically, there are hundreds of ways of getting to an endpoint and your employees will be happier if they can learn how to do it their way (and still get to the same endpoint).
AN ASSUMPTION that the work won’t get done well is simply a guess you’re making. Yes, you might have to coach someone through the work at first and make it clear what you expect for the final product. But wouldn’t it be great if you were surprised that through ingenuity and creativity, the person you delegated to did a better job than you would have?
Consider the following upsides to delegating more if you are not doing so because of control, fear, and an assumption:
- You won’t be overwhelmed and stressed out with too much work
- You will be able to focus on more important (bigger) things
- You might get that promotion you’ve wanted because you are now doing bigger things
- You can go on that extended vacation
- Your direct reports will be engaged while growing and developing
- Turnover amongst your best employees will slow down because they are being challenged
- You’ll have people ready to take your place when you get that promotion
- Your employees are no longer confused about what they should be doing
- Your organization gets noticed as a great place to work; you become a talent magnet
So what might happen if you just started to delegate a little more? And then some more, and more after that? Oh the places you and your employees could go!