Inspite of continuous effort and training, delegation remains one of the most challenging aspects of leadership. Over the course of conversations with several leaders, I have realised that there are two main issues with delegation
- The issue of will – Several leaders are unable to delegate because they have internal barriers to delegation.
- The issue of skill – several leaders do not know how to delegate, what to delegate and whom to delegate to and hence do not delegate.
In this two part blog, I will try and address both these issues objectively.
Lets understand the issue of will first, why do leaders feel disinclined to delegating inspite of knowing the immense benefit that they and their staff would have if they are able to do it successfully? Well, there could be several reasons that makes leaders uneasy about delegation-
- ‘I can do this better and quicker than my staff’ – Yes, perhaps you can, but the goal is to support your staff in doing the work and help them grow.
- ‘I don’t have confidence in my staff’– Start by delegating small tasks and projects, build confidence in your staff and uncover their strengths.
- ‘It’s easier to do it myself than to organise it, explain it and monitor it’ – This is a short term view. The time spent planning the project, explaining it etc will be worth it as over time, your employees will be able to take on more responsibility and plan and structure it on their own.
- ‘I like to have things my way’ – Sure you do, focus your energies on communicating your preferences and quality standards to your team. This will pay off in your current as well as future projects.
- ‘My staff will resent the additional work’ – This is an assumption. Your staff may infact be looking to do new, more interesting work. Allow them to say no rather than pre-empting a no from them.
- ‘I am supposed to be the problem solver and decision maker’ – Not always. In a lot of cases, your role is to support your staff in problem solving and making decisions themselves. Allow them freedom to do this and make sure you follow through.
Don’t let delegation create an identity crisis for you. Give up your previous skills and expertise, allow others to flourish and embrace the role of a leader – one who supports and coaches and creates more experts, sets the strategic direction for the unit and moves the unit ahead. In a lot of cases, delegation involves stepping out of your comfort zone.