Let’s face it. You can’t do everything. And even (especially) the best leaders don’t go it alone. You need a team so that everyone pitches in and does their part to make things happen.
Yet delegating is the one skill that puts fear in the hearts of many leaders, and can be a challenging skill to learn and use. It’s important to know how to take the fear out of delegating such that it becomes easy and effortless.
What if I told you that delegating is the cornerstone to keeping your team alive, active, loyal, and increasing profitability? It’s true because you are empowering people to realize your vision, to utilize their talents and passion for a common purpose, to take an active part in its success.
And the truth is that you cannot build anything without inviting in the expertise, energy, and execution of others. Just ask Henry Ford, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dolores Huerta, or the Golden State Warriors!
5 keys to delegating successfully
Bring people onto your team who complete you, not who are exactly like you. When you begin with this, you are not fighting over who does what. There is a clear path towards what to delegate and what to accomplish. You want to use the skills, knowledge, and experience of your people to accomplish your goals. The diversity and new ideas they contribute are what bring innovation and growth.
Masterful delegation is also about giving your people ownership of the work they take on. When they own it and take responsibility for its outcome, great things result.
Learn to let go so you can grow. In some areas what to delegate is a clear decision. If you’re at a stage of growth, for example, where your financial recordkeeping needs to be taken up a notch, and it’s way beyond your capability (or interest), then bringing someone with accounting and financial analysis skills onto your team is a no-brainer.
Sometimes, however, the areas you know you should be delegating are the very ones that are within your comfort zone. You know them well; they are easy for you to do, and they often bring an amount of joy and fulfillment. So, you hang onto them and wonder why you’re still too busy and feeling overwhelmed – or unmotivated because you’re not feeling challenged.
Without delegating you will never have the room to grow into new areas of leadership yourself, much less grow the team leaders you need for your endeavor to thrive. Do delegate the tasks that someone else has the expertise or desire to handle. And do delegate some of the work that keeps you comfortable, but could be holding you back from growing into bigger, more exciting things.
Give authority AND ask for accountability. To delegate effectively, you need to know and trust your people. You will be giving them the responsibility to complete the task and also enough accountability to keep them from coming to you for every little decision. The common other-end of the scales is micro-managing to make sure everything’s done “right,” which serves no one. You don’t want to give up both the responsibility and accountability for completion because you, as the leader, are ultimately responsible for the success of your endeavor. It’s a balance (tip: clear and consistent communication helps).
Understand that not everyone is strong in all the skills needed to successfully achieve their goals. Many trainers suggest that you use your strengths to improve your weaknesses. I say go with your strengths and leverage your weaker areas with people who are better at them than you are.
The self-made billionaire founder of Spanx, Sara Blakely, hired a CEO to run the business when Spanx was just two years old. Many (particularly male) eyebrows were raised by her actions because, you know, everyone wants to be the CEO, the head honcho, of their own business! But Sara said it allowed her to focus on the things she was particularly good at as well as helping keep balance in her work-family life. “As soon as you can afford to, hire your weaknesses,” she said. “Hiring a CEO was very critical for me to stay on my strengths.”
Make delegation work in your favor. If you are not good at the people aspect but are great with numbers, then partner up with a people person to make calls and do presentations. (As I mentioned before, you might
Training is not a waste of time. Busy leaders often feel that they don’t have the time to teach others what they know, and believe that it’s faster and more efficient to do it themselves. So, they end up not delegating at all – a sure path to burnout as well as unhappy, underutilized teams. Consider starting with those types of tasks which are easy to delegate: tasks that are repetitive, tasks that are research-based in nature, tasks that will teach others something, or tasks that create a plan of action. Surprisingly, as I began to delegate tasks, I found that the people to whom I taught a task (which I had thought would take so much precious time to do) were often better at it than I was. In fact, I often learned something new from delegating instead of holding onto the status quo. Imagine that!
Developing the team and its members’ individual abilities can make your team really sing. Look for the golden nuggets in your team, those who want to learn new skills that you can support, or who want to become leaders whom you can train to develop into leaders in their own right.
Big wins for everybody!
~ Selected from my bestselling book No One Stood Up When I Entered The Room: One Woman’s Journey from Command to True Leadership.
Linda Patten is a Leadership Trainer for women entrepreneurs and change-makers. Her vision for every woman is to become the natural leader she is meant to be, through teaching an empowering mindset, masculine AND feminine leadership skills, and how to activate a vision into a full-bodied business or social change movement.
For opportunities to awaken and empower the leader within you, please visit Dare2LeadwithLinda.