5 Reasons Delegation Is So Hard For Leaders
“I don’t time to train someone to do this right now.”
“It would be quicker if I did it.”
“I’ll just have to fix what he did later.”
“But they won’t do it like me.”
Sound familiar? In my last post, I asked if you were developing the right skills. Since that post, people have mentioned how challenging they find delegation. Or course, the first step is to notice that you are trying to do too much or even doing things that are simply not necessary for you.
The hurdle for many a business owner
For business owners and executives, one of the key realizations is that there are different kinds of demands on your attention and time as the business grows in revenue and sophistication. And it is hard to know what to delegate, when to delegate and to whom. This difficulty stems from our thinking and feelings about our identity, fairness, perception and a host of other things. Yet, as Gene Marks points out in his post, not delegating creates a handicap for both you and your organization.
Take a moment to think about the role of a CEO
No matter what your title actually is, you are doing the job of a CEO. Here are the basic responsibilities:
- Sets the vision and tone of what “X Company” is all about
- Designs and explains the strategy of how the business will develop and grow over time
- Seeks out the talent to make the above happen
- Keeps everyone accountable to the stated business goals Makes sure that revenues (and even profits) are healthy
Essentially, your job is to lead and manage. When you have been one of the primary people responsible for the products or services and looking after the day-to-day operations, the adjustment to a different role is not necessarily clean or clear. Yet, without delegating mindfully, it is much more challenging to be adept at leading, managing and thinking ahead to how the company can grow and respond to the marketplace.
Reasons delegation is so hard for leaders
That’s all well and good, you might say. We know that delegating certain aspects of our work is key to becoming more successful. But that is our rational side talking and…well, that isn’t always running the show. If we look at the statements I wrote in the beginning of this post, what is underneath all that? Beliefs that may have been true at one point or were never true but have sunk into the backs of our minds and influencing our decisions.
- Being busy means I’m doing work– This belief confuses the idea that serving your customers or creating the product or service is the only way you can justify your existence. You’re not shirking; simply shifting gears to do other tasks that are important to the business goals.
- Asking for help or expertise is a sign of weakness– First off, it is humanly impossible to know everything. Secondly, you hired talented people to be your team and/or staff. Leverage their capabilities.
- Need/Desire for control- This isn’t always articulated clearly. However, most business owners/ executives have a long history of making things happen with their own skill and determination. A company will not be successful if the leader micromanages how things get done. Providing planned accountability is a better way to allay your own anxiety and support the work.
- Lack of faith/trust- This is more common with leaders new to their positions. It is understandable that you want to minimize the risk of having someone else do the work. However, your team/staff will pick up the message that you don’t believe they are good enough. Take the time to train and mentor your team so they understand both the culture and brand of your business.
- Past experience– It may seem disconnected but our childhood experiences can often influence our leadership and work styles. It is not so uncommon to carry a belief that you are responsible because you were the eldest child, you need to contain things because you had an alcoholic parent or that you need to prove you are good enough. These things can influence how we interact, trust and assign responsibilities to others.
These are five reasons why delegation is so challenging and there are more. The main thing here is to ask yourself what is driving your reluctance to delegate.
Have a conversation with yourself
Listening to your thoughts and feelings can give you information about whether you are listening your irrational side. If it is one of the reasons listed above, get as explicit as possible with your belief. How true is it? Why is it true? It may even be worth having a conversation with a mentor or a coach. The best CEOs know self-awareness prevents a lot of unnecessary stress. Becoming clear with why delegation feels so difficult supports your growth as leader and manager.
Aside from weaknesses in a team member’s skill set, what are other reasons why business owners/ executives struggle with delegation?