Get Over Yourself Already, and Delegate

The biggest barrier to delegation is you.

You heard that right.

It isn’t your people.

It isn’t their skills. Or motivation.

It’s you.

Do you find yourself not delegating because 1) You don’t want to overburden your team 2) You think you can do it better or faster yourself 3) you are a control freak and just can’t let go?

You need to look hard in the mirror.

If you care about the growth of those around you then you have to be willing to delegate.

If you care about your growth then you have to be willing to delegate.

If you want to stay being a control freak go back to being an individual contributor. You are already one, just one with a fancy leadership title. We need lots of amazing individual contributors. Go be one. Leadership is not for you.

One of the competencies one has to master in order to be a successful leader is delegation. It’s about empowering the members of your team to be accountable to make decisions and complete tasks and projects. Assigning the authority to the right employees while taking their growth goals and competencies into account.

Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.

George S. Patton

Delegation is not about telling someone else what to do.

It’s about building trust in their integrity and competency and giving them the opportunity to grow or make use of their talents and do the work they love. It’s the only way to allow yourself as a leader to grow and give yourself the space to spend time on those things that you are best suited to be doing.

You probably got promoted the first time because you were an excellent individual contributor. You know the ins and outs of the job very well.

Just one problem. It isn’t your job any longer.

Whether this is your first time being a leader or you’ve been doing it for years, how you handled delegation early on helped define you as a leader. There are many leaders who have stayed in the bucket of being managers because of their relationship with delegation, or rather their lack of delegation.

You may be one of those who have a team but really do most of your work as an individual contributor. They do their work and you do yours. You manage them when things aren’t getting done.

Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.

Ronald Reagan

Ask yourself:

  • Am I the only one who can do this task or project?
  • Is there someone who is better at this than me?
  • Am I the bottleneck for others getting their work done? Who is waiting because of me?
  • Do I have anyone that I trust their judgement so they can take over this task and remove me as the bottleneck?

Just because you can do a thing, doesn’t mean that you should be the one doing the thing. If you look up and you are the only one that can do the task or project, and it isn’t just you being a control freak and not being willing to let go, then you have to do the task.

Be careful, just because you can do a thing and do it well, doesn’t mean you should be doing the thing. Is it what you are best at? Is it what you should be doing with your time in your role?

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.

Jessica Jackley

As you build trust in the integrity and the competencies of your team members, you can use different levels of delegation that fit the person and situation.

Do As I Say – This is instruction. Follow these instructions precisely.

Look Into This – Here you asking for investigation and information but no recommendation.

Give Me Your Advice, We’ll Decide Together – Coaching and Development level that encourages a shared process

Explore, Decide & Check With Me – Here you trust them to dig into the situation, gather information, synthesize a decision and want them to check in before proceeding.

Explore & Decide Within These Guide-rails – Here they can move forward within clearly established parameters. They don’t have to wait for you before taking action, but they don’t yet have complete autonomy of decision and action.

You Own It – This one can have different levels depending on how they have done along the way. You can choose for them to inform you when it is all done, they can take care of it and do not need to check back in with you, or it can be where you give them complete freedom to take action, manage the situation and own this area going forward.

When you delegate work to a member of the team, your job is to clearly frame success and describe the objectives.

Steven Sinofsky

Outside of the different levels of delegation is the basic delegation process itself.

Assess

  • What are you delegating?
  • Who to delegate to?
  • Assess the competency (ability), suitability, and the required training of the individuals you are considering
  • Pick the right person

Set Expectations

  • Set clear objectives
  • Explain the reasons why this is important
  • Required results
  • Agree upon deadlines
  • Agree upon cadence of check-ins and progress to be shared

Provide Support

  • Be available
  • Check in as agreed upon
  • Monitor progress
  • Provide feedback, expertise, coaching as needed
  • Encouragement is important

Review

  • Follow up and provide feedback on results
  • Celebrate accomplishments
  • Review what they learned from the assignment, what are they proud of? Where do they want to make adjustments in how they did things or areas they want to learn more about for next time?

To be a leader you have to be willing to delegate. You may be a star but if you go it alone, then you are limited in what you can accomplish. To have a big impact, you must have the mindset and humility to know that you can’t do everything yourself and that you should be working on work that only you can do.

Only then, are you closer to having the larger impact that you are looking for.

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