To become an effective delegator as a leader, the very first thing you need to do is recognize that you are carrying a load of head trash around delegation.
We can say that with confidence because we have conducted an exercise with hundreds of leaders. In a nutshell, the exercise goes like this:
- Take 3 minutes and brainstorm all the reasons leaders should delegate.
- Take 3 minutes and brainstorm all the reasons leaders are reluctant to delegate.
The result is the same 100% of the time: the first list is always shorter than the second list. From a numeric perspective, the reasons not to delegate trump the reasons to delegate every time. So, after the exercise is completed, we jokingly say, “Well then, I guess nobody should delegate, right?”
Wrong, of course. And here is why – there is another striking contrast between the two lists:
100% of the time, the reasons leaders should delegate are about benefits to the business
while the reasons leaders are reluctant to delegate are about their own head trash.
Think about it … Reasons to delegate include benefits such as:
- greater efficiency and productivity,
- more time for you as a leader to think strategically,
- elevated levels of execution,
- a strong collaborative culture,
- the professional development of your employees,
- improved motivation and satisfaction, and higher profits.
These are factors that propel businesses to success.
However, the majority of the time, the reasons not to delegate are about two simple things: fear and ego. You can hear those qualities in familiar statements such as:
- “If the person I delegate to screws it up, I’m going to be held accountable.”
- “It takes too long to train someone.”
- “I can do it better and faster myself.”
- “This is too important for me to delegate.”
- “If I delegate this, someone might do a better job than me.”
- “I don’t want to give up control.”
It comes down to this: Delegating puts the good of the business first. Not delegating puts your own head trash first.
Ouch. It may sound harsh, but it is true. Prioritize your head trash and you, your employees, and your business will suffer. You will set yourself up for workaholism and burnout. Your people will get frustrated because they lack empowerment and opportunity and your best people will likely leave. Your business will trudge along quarter by quarter, but will never make the leap to the next level.
Alternatively, put your business first, and you will have some uncomfortable moments working through and giving up your head trash. But, in the end, you will become free to be the best leader you can be, your employees will enthusiastically rise to the challenge, and your business will thrive.
We will discuss the eight ingredients of effective delegation in an upcoming blog. But for today, just sit for a while with this question:
“Which can I do without … the benefits delegation brings to my business or my own head trash?”