For some, delegating comes easily. For others…not so much.
You may have seen the commercial where one person says to another something along the lines of, “Can you find me a qualified plumber, check out three references, negotiate the best rates, and schedule him or her to come next Tuesday?”
And then the delegator says, “Wow! See how much I got done today?!”
While some leaders will identify with that scenario and even chuckle at the punchline; others would listen to that conversation and think, “I could NEVER ask someone to do so much for me and then take credit for the results.”
There are a couple of serious lessons in this conversation.
- One is that leaders must be able to delegate in order to accomplish goals and see results. There is wisdom in realizing you are not a researcher…or a plumber, for example.
- The second lesson is that, while leaders will feel very accomplished in simply moving the task off their plate, they must acknowledge and honor the value of team members for the work they do to achieve results.
Here are some key points of delegation, both for those who find it easy, and for those for whom it is a challenge.
If you are a leader, you must learn how to delegate properly.
Delegation requires dual perspective – a clear vision of the big picture, and a knowledge of the parts that make up that picture.
As a leader, you don’t need to delegate every detail step by step (that is micro-managing), but you do need to be able to communicate the parts to a person who knows the details and can carry them out. Giving your team members the big picture first, and then relaying their part in it provides great value and perspective to them. It instills in them the criticality of their part in the overall objective.
You may be a great communicator, providing a clear vision, milestones, and objectives for each level. But if you are communicating the right work to a person with the wrong strengths, it will be a struggle from start to finish. Therefore, it is critical that a leader be aware of each team member’s strengths and weaknesses.
For example, if you have a project that is intricately detailed, and you choose your highest I-wired team member because you think they can get it done faster, think again. They may get it done fast, but they will struggle with so much detail. Neither you nor they will enjoy the process or the outcome.
If, on the other hand, you have a sales and marketing initiative, you would not lay the burden of reaching myriads of people on a C-wired team member. The act of dealing with so many people-focused tasks and having to communicate with people would drain their energy and enthusiasm – the very traits you most need for this type of campaign.
In this scenario, simply switching roles – where the C-wired person did the intricate details, and the I-wired person dealt with the people-specific tasks – would create a win-win-win situation. You would see objectives reached quickly; the team members would be energized in doing work that fits their strengths; and your results would reflect favorably on the approach.
This simple point can be one of the hardest. For those who like to be in charge, it may feel like they are no longer in control. For those who are accustomed to doing the work, it can also feel like a loss of control.
The key to letting go is knowing that you have created a system that others can follow and that you have hired a team you can trust to carry it out. Letting go is all about responsibility (yours in preparing your team) and trust (that they will carry out what they have been trained and equipped to do).
Systems are essential to business. But systems should also be evaluated periodically to determine if they are still the most efficient means to accomplish objectives.
For example, do you schedule meetings just because you have always done so? Do you require a written weekly report, when there are tools now that allow for agile and immediate communication and collaboration across teams?
Don’t use your team to do busy work. Allow them to do the work that matters. And this often means streamlining systems.
Have you ever seen a leader spend hours on a document or spreadsheet that someone else could have done in minutes?
This is a leader who needs to learn the value of delegating. Think about it. Always ask yourself, “Am I the best person to do this job? Am I the most cost-effective solution?”
If not, then go to the person who can do it faster and, frankly, better than you.
Being a good delegator does not mean you get to hand off all your work and walk away. It means you entrust each piece to a qualified caretaker, and you touch base with that caretaker regularly to see if anything is needed that is beyond their scope of strengths, if there are issues that need to be escalated, or if they need clarification on any part.
Your job as a leader is to be the accountability partner for your team. “Partner” is a key term. Be a partner in success.
Believe it or not, there are leaders who hire someone to do a job…and then end up doing the job themselves. This leaves the employee exasperated and confused as to what their role really is. In a business, there are doers, managers, and leaders. If you find yourself still doing everything, you are not a leader.
This does not mean you don’t pitch in when all hands are needed on deck; but it does mean you can transfer tasks from your plate to a more qualified team member with a reasonable expectation that it will get done. But not by you.
It also means recognizing when a task does not fit an individual. This requires being able to respectfully transfer that part of the workload to someone for whom it is a good fit. Always do this with a keen awareness for making each person feel valued for their contribution.
When you as a leader do something yourself, the focus is on you. But when you involve your team, you are engaging others in meaningful work. You are giving others a chance to learn, grow, and share in the excitement that comes from a job well done.
If delegating is hard for you, it could be a matter of control or trust; or it could be that you don’t want to burden someone else with your problems. If this is you, then keep in mind that when you allow others to help you carry the burden, you are also strengthening them and allowing them to use their gifts. When you engage others, not only do you benefit, the organization and employee benefit as well.
When you engage others, you are honoring their strengths.
Are you a delegator? Are you a GOOD delegator? There is a difference.
Good delegation requires good communication. Click here to learn about the Maxwell Method of Communication Impact Report to see how it can help you and your team.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.