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Leveling up with Leadership by Delegation

Woman with many arms and hands holding onto puzzle pieces, to indicate she is juggling a lot of tasks

I think a lot of managers struggle with Delegation. Especially those that are go-getters and initiative takers! They usually rely on themselves to start and execute a project from start to finish. Waiting on others to complete the task would take longer than doing it themselves. As a result, they keep stepping in for team members and completing projects, which directly affects their progression in their career.

These are some of the excuses they come up with in their mind to not delegate:

  1. It will take me less time to do it myself.

This has been mentioned above, and they are ignoring the long term consequences. It may take you longer to teach this task to someone else, but imagine a day when the other person starts doing this task without you asking them to do it! When you get to that day, one item gets taken off your mind completely! It ceases to become your responsibility, and then your mind is free to do something else — something else that you always wanted to do but couldn’t get to.

2. I don’t think the other person will do as good a job as I would do!

This is another common excuse used to avoid delegating assignments to others. I have been guilty of this as well! I believe it’s our ego that tells us that we do certain things better than our team members because we are in leadership positions. However, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your team can help when deciding what to delegate and to whom. For example, you know Person A in your team doesn’t do well with presentations, so you will not assign a presentation to Person A. But then, when is Person A going to learn how to make good presentations if you don’t give them an opportunity and then feedback? The best way to address this is to let them do a few presentations (that may not be as important), let them fail at it, and give them feedback about it. If the person is not improving, then simply find another candidate to delegate that work to! But I can assure you that at least a few times, you will be pleasantly surprised. You will find that the person you delegated to did a better job than you!

3. What value am I adding if I delegate this work?

One of my colleagues has faced this dilemma. They told me that if they delegate a specific project, they will have nothing to do, and people will think they are doing nothing! But once the project was handed down, they found that they had more free time to accomplish other pending projects/issues that they never had time for before. This freed up their time for tasks that were long term in nature that yielded huge returns eventually. If you are a go-getter, you will always find a way to add value. The next idea for adding value might be even better than what you are doing currently.

4. I don’t think this person understands the domain.

This is another area that I am guilty of. I have not delegated many tasks because others on my team don’t understand the domains as well as me. I have been with GumGum for such a long time that my understanding of the domains and tasks are on a higher level by default. Knowing this, if I don’t give opportunities to others, how will they expand their knowledge and their trajectory of their career? When will they understand the domain well? How will they be able to independently take a decision on the domain?

5. This task is too important to delegate.

This is another rationalization that is often used when it comes to delegation. More often than not, we tend to overestimate the importance of a task. I think we must ask ourselves, what’s the maximum cost of Person A failing at the delegated task? If the cost to the organization is not too high, then Person A should be considered as a delegation candidate. In cases where it’s too important and the costs are high, you must take the future delegation candidate with you so that this person can learn this important task from you. This can be treated as a teachable moment for this employee. Which can result in permanent hand over of this assignment.

The cost of not delegating tasks is more than we often think about. Here are some of the costs we incur by not delegating:

  1. Your growth gets stalled.

What people often miss by rationalizing why they do not want to delegate is that their personal career growth is stalled. Repeating the same tasks does not show growth to your superiors; we are too busy being perfectionists rather than taking a chance on teaching others so we can expand and grow. You remain within your comfort zone because it is safe. This will ultimately stall your progression within the company.

2. Your team members’ growth is stalled.

Because you are holding on to your assignments, you are now not only taking away the learning opportunity for yourself, but also for other team members.

3. You might not discover what you like and what you don’t like.

Once you free yourself from a repeating task, you will start learning and trying other things within your role. You will find that you can possibly discover something you really enjoy and find challenging. You just might find your calling! Thus in order to discover yourself, you must keep trying out different things. Delegating responsibilities to team members accordingly will open such an opportunity.

4. Stress.

Restricting yourself by not delegating will result in more work and stress. Delegation can take more time initially, but it will ultimately save you more time after the initial investment period is over.

5. Lack of Trust.

As a leader, you should approach tasks from a teachable mindset. Not delegating projects and assignments shows lack of trust between yourself and your team. This will be observed by others in the company, and now there is a new trend affecting trust and morale between managers and employees.

Is there any such thing as work that cannot be delegated?

Definitely, for example, you can not ask someone else to sign the contract on your behalf. Certain responsibilities can only be handled by management due to restrictions of knowledge and signatory rights. These situations can not be handed over to others.

No one succeeds in isolation. Becoming a great leader means you have a successful team behind you. Thus, you must help others grow alongside you. Learning to delegate is absolutely important on the road to becoming a great and successful leader.

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Vaibhav Puranik

Vaibhav Puranik

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