Not many leaders are born with effective (or any) delegation skills. The good news is that we can learn them.
But, first a little about why delegation matters.
What are your delegation beliefs?
If you complain about your workload, feel you’re in it alone, or have a spouse or partner who doesn’t do their share, your beliefs about delegation may be getting in your way.
Examine the four points below and ask yourself: Could these beliefs be interfering with how I think about delegation and the actions I choose?
- If you believe the adage, “If you want a job done right, do it yourself,” I’d bet you have more jobs than you can successfully manage and that you spend more hours working than you’d like.
- If you believe, “The harder I work the more success I will have,” I’d bet you silently give yourself a “high-five” when you leave work late and show up early, thinking that it’s always a good thing and not recognizing when your hard work becomes counter productive.
- If you believe that, “Every job needs to be done my way—and that’s the best way,” you may be allowing your perfectionistic and controlling tendencies to interfere with delegation.
- If you believe, “By the time I delegate this to someone I could have done the job myself,” you may be thinking short-term versus long-term outcomes and missing a great opportunity to empower your team.
So, be honest. Which of these beliefs do you own? Sadly, there was a time when I believed them all. And my workplace team and family got the message to stay out of my way and let me roll. Gradually it dawned on me that I was doing too much. I missed opportunities to involve others, didn’t build a collaborative team, and lost a lot of enjoyment from life.
My delegation turning point.
Thanksgiving 2001 was my delegation turning point. I was nearing the end of chemotherapy, for early stage breast cancer, and about to start radiation. Relatives gathered in our home for my favorite holiday of the year. As usual, I overdid the preparations by cleaning too much, polishing silver that no one would notice and generally fussing over details that really didn’t matter. With dinner finished I began to assume my clean-up power place in front of the sink. After just a few minutes a wave of exhaustion hit me hard. I felt my legs weaken and I knew I just had to sit down.
My body was telling me something that my mind didn’t get. There were lots of people who could take charge of the clean-up. And they did. My sisters and husband whipped the kitchen into shape while I chilled in the living room. I let go of my usual fussiness about whether things were done my way. Gratitude for their help overcame me and gave me quite a wake-up call.
This was a pivotal moment in my view of delegation. And it started to shift my beliefs in the workplace as well. I recognized what was to be gained by delegating tasks, projects and decisions. While I still lacked skill in how to delegate (more on that in my next post) I began to include others in new ways. Sharing the reins invited shared ownership and led to shared success—and a better quality of life for me—one of my biggest “aha” lessons.
When we get in touch with our core beliefs, identify and challenge those that aren’t working any longer, we have a choice to overcome them and adopt new ways of being.
So, I’d say that learning to not do more—but to delegate more could be the leverage point to lessen our stress, free up our time, and create a dynamic and successful team. What would you say?
Stay tuned for my next post with specific help for having those tough delegation conversations.
Photo Credit: I wish I could recall the source of the great dog photo above to offer credit. If someone knows please get in touch.