To delegate or not to delegate? Would someone else please answer the question?
I’m a big delegator and it isn’t because I’d rather be on the couch enjoying a pizza with extra sauce (I would!). It’s because time is the greatest asset we have and I treasure it. Could I change the oil in my car? Yes. But why would I when the shop beside the grocery store can do it in minutes while I’m on my way to pick up the ingredients for a fresh homemade pizza…I mean salad?
How do you know when to delegate? How do you know when not to? I’m not sure there is any golden rule that fits all scenarios, so delegation needs to be considered in each situation.
Let’s list a few reasons leaders don’t delegate:
- When they believe they can do it faster and better than anyone else
- When they don’t trust their team
- When they want all of the glory
- In an emergency
We could continue listing more things and probably end up with pages and pages of…excuses…because that’s what they are. But do you notice anything that stands out among these four bullets? One of them is not like the others.
Generally speaking it is much better to lead by inspiring others to follow, but once in awhile emergencies occur and the leader must make command decisions on the spot – decisions for which there is no time for delegation. One of the reasons you are in a position of leadership is because you have the ability to do so. Embrace it – don’t abuse it.
But the other three examples actually reflect negatively on the leader not the team.
You’re the Best – You got to the position you are in because you are good at what you do (or you have pictures of someone in a compromising position under questionable circumstances).
Congratulations. We get it. OK? Of course you can do some things faster and better than anyone on your team. That’s part of what got you there. But now that you are there, your job is to lead, not to keep doing the things you used to do. Allow your team to grow and learn by doing the things you have already mastered and don’t let it worry you if they learn to do it better and faster than you.
I’ve known many leaders who feel threatened when that occurs, but they shouldn’t. When the team members learn to do it better and faster than their leader, guess what? The leader is doing his or her job! The leader looks great!
People proudly announce, “That’s the best leader I’ve ever seen!” and you’re off to your next big promotion.
As Ray Davies of the classic rock group The Kinks sings, “Paranoia big destroy-yah.” Don’t let that paranoia destroy you – and your team in the process.
Trust – If you don’t trust your team, whose fault is that? Yours. Either you have foolishly held on to a team that is truly unworthy of trust, or you are simply too untrusting. In either case, you have a problem. So if you find yourself consistently NOT delegating because you don’t trust your team that is all on you. No one will play the violin for you as you wail about having no work/life balance.
Glory, glory – Finally, if you don’t delegate because you want all the glory to yourself…get used to a lonely life. As the saying goes, we are all in it together and none of us get out alive.
Epilogue – Creative types are among those who have the most difficult time delegating. “How can I let someone else make my baby? It’s MY baby!” Here, Brian Casel provides a process entitled “How to Delegate When you are a Creative Type.” If this describes you, go check it out.