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5 Reasons Delegation Is So Hard For Leaders

business owners, leaders, difficulty with delegationYou have probably thought about delegating some of your work to others. Maybe you have had these thoughts:

“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?

Related posts:

5 Tips For Better Delegation

Managing the Small Business Owner: Control, Influence and Limitations

6 Ways SME Leader’s Role Changes When Growing Internationally

 

 Image: ©Lucien_3D/Fotolia

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CEO Mindset: Are You Developing the Right Skills?

How do business owners/ executives encourage or even inspire their team without being a good model? According to a recent survey conducted by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, only 9% of their executive respondents chose “practices self-development” as their primary skill a leader needs. Becoming CEO of your small organization is a process of learning and developing as you understand your changing role, the roles of your team members and how the business works relies heavily on your ability to develop yourself. New challenges crop up all the time. Self-development is happening, one way or another.

James* (not his real name) is typical of many small business leaders. He was telling me in a coaching session that he was having difficulty moving out of his typical “I’m one of the team” style to one where he is out of the office meeting potential partners, looking at possible acquisitions and prospective higher level customers. He is excited about where the company is going but he is feeling a little strange supporting his team as they become the safety net for current customers and day-to-day operations. James, like a lot of blossoming CEOs, is discovering that his communications skills need some enhancing so his focus is on identifying his expectations, how he influences the corporate culture through his actions and words and making sure his messages are clear.

Is self-development misunderstood?

You may have read that meditation is the latest leadership and management “thing.” It is easy to imagine that self-development is only about deepening your self-understanding through some sort of esoteric process. However, it is something you can do on a daily basis that goes beyond the latest fad or even deep self-exploration. The kinds of skills needed by business owners/ executives often depends on the company’s growth plan. Like many of my clients, James is learning how to delegate some of his responsibilities to particular team members. To accomplish this, he had to identify his beliefs about where he fits into his organization, how he trusts his team and determining the strengths and weaknesses of his team and staff. This is all self-development (and he is learning quite a lot about himself along the way).

Four questions for self-development

Whether you are the sort of person who seeks out self-understanding on a deep level or not, there are probably skills that you would like to build up so you can be the best leader of your company. Frequently, the specific areas that a business owner/ executive targets for improvement are tied into the business goals. That saying from Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you won’t get you there” is a good reminder that each stage of your company will teach and enlighten you. Simply put, old behaviors don’t always get the same results and can even lead to failure. These four questions are a good conversation to have with yourself:

  • Who am I?
  • Where am I going?
  • Why am I going there?
  • Who is going with me?

Becoming a leader is an evolutionary process. Discovering how your thinking and feeling grows and adapts over time makes it easier to notice which skills need attention. This is all part of the CEO Mindset.

Are you developing the right skills?

Embracing the role of CEO is often one of accepting that you are a steward. Sure, you might be a key part of business development or a sponsor of a potentially innovative product. But your role is more the Shaper than the  Actor.  The “right” skill for you may be accepting the role of steward and dropping role of  technical expert or it could be speaking less and listening more. The “right” skill may be improving your presentation skills so you can pitch effectively to investors or a more sophisticated customer. Identifying and learning the skills you need for the next stage of your business will support your team and staff staying focused on the business goals and doing what they do best.

Related posts: What Stories Do You Tell Yourself While Growing Your Business?

Using the CEO Mindset For Smarter Communication

6 Ways SME Leader’s Role Changes When Growing Internationally

 

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5 Tips For Better Delegation

If you are like most small business owners (or executives), you have a pretty active to-do list and not nearly enough time to do it all. Besides keeping an eye on the overall business, it is likely that you are involved with some of the day-to-day work with customers. For some business owners, they stay in the Pre-Leader stage and try to do everything themselves. And they wonder why they feel overwhelmed and overworked. I don’t think anyone ever founds a business saying, “I want to create something that will make me miserable.”

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