Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The best executive is the one who has the sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
Delegation is a key activity in the life of any leader and any executive.
Hans Finzel, in his book “The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make”, answers why leaders don’t delegate:
Fear of losing authority, Fear of work being done poorly, Fear of work being done better, Unwillingness to take the necessary time, Fear of depending on others, Don’t know how.
Did you notice how often the word “fear” was used in Finzels findings?
When I was 19 years old, a leader at my university hired me to work on her staff. One of the first things she did was to hand me the keys to a car, hand me some money, and asked me to go to Mexico to meet with a group of leaders and develop a plan for some trips the coming year. I had 2 feelings. The first: “I can’t believe she’s going to let me do this. She doesn’t know me well. I haven’t worked for her yet. This is incredible! I’m getting paid to go to Mexico!” The second response was: “I better not blow it. I’m going to do my best. I can do this. I want to keep this job.”
Here’s what I’ve learned about DELEGATION over the years:
*Proper delegation should cause people to STEP UP. It all depends in how you frame it.
*Delegation is NOT the act of having other people do the things that you as a leader don’t want to do.
*Delegation is TEACHING and EMPOWERING others to do things so that you can do other things.
*Delegation is a GROWTH STEP for a leader and an organization. Without it, you can’t grow.
*Delegation requires an element of TRUST and RISK. These should be developed constantly.
*Everyone wants to take on NEW TASKS. Everyone wants the opportunity to SUCCEED at something new.
Jim Burns (Homeword) taught me about how to delegate when I was a young leader. It’s a 4-phase process:
Phase #1) I do something, you watch
Phase #2) I so something, you do it with me
Phase #3) You do something, I support you
Phase #4) You do something, I do something else
Do you see the transition? It’s not just a dump of task, it’s a process of teaching, a process of handing things off, and a process that builds confidence and ability. As a leader, I’m not asking you to do something that I’m not willing to do or haven’t done myself. I will model it for you, I will teach you, and I will walk with you until you’re ready to do it on your own.
How are you doing in this area? Are you taking the time to properly delegate tasks and assignments to others in your organization? Are you afraid that they may fail or that they may do it better than you would?
Get over it. Learn to empower others. Delegate well.