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  • Writer's pictureShandy Welch

#2 Delegation

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Building upon last week's writing let’s tackle #2, delegation…

  1. Integrity

  2. Delegation

  3. Communication

  4. Self-Awareness

  5. Gratitude

  6. Learning Agility

  7. Influence

  8. Empathy

  9. Courage

  10. Respect

HBR wrote about this very subject when discussing a leadership impact,

“The upper limit of what’s possible will increase only with each collaborator you empower to contribute their best work to your shared priorities. Likewise, your power decreases with every initiative you unnecessarily hold on to.”

Delegation is the one thing that will transition you from doing to leading. It is this very thing that so many leaders struggle with. You are not alone. Some see delegation as giving up control or protecting their team from overwork.

There are two fundamental reasons to capitalize on delegation

  1. Delegation allows time for you to step into true leadership. You are needed and coveted for your high level of strategic wisdom, operational thinking, and inspiring action and innovation. Energy spent on anything below that is not capitalizing on your strengths.

  2. Delegation creates an opportunity to grow and empower your team. It allows others to highlight their inherent skills, develop new competencies, and creates a culture of trust and cohesion.

A leader’s mission is to support the team, identify individual areas of strength, and offer opportunities to drive initiatives. Delegation requires humility, it asks that you take a backseat and allow the limelight to shine on others. Your role becomes that of an influencer and inspirational motivator rather than the doer. I often think of a conductor, the audience watches the individual musicians and applauds their talents but the musicians all know that without the conductor creating unity and form, the individual musicians will not perform to perfection.

Great leadership can not be motivated by ego, but rather by the quiet development and support of others.

Why is delegation so hard?

Many times it is the story the delegation is creating. “If I delegate, others may think I am lazy”, “I don’t want to disappoint others so I continue to take on more tasks.”, “There is a lack of clarity around whose job it is so I’ll just do it.” or, “I am the only one who can do it right”. I have heard all of these and more.

The two common themes that emerged: Clarity and Skill

Clarity: Having a clear team vision and organizational structure allows for seamless delegation and communication. The tendency to hold on to work when it does not align with your goals slows the success of everyone. It is easy to delegate when the task simply does not fall within your purview of work.

In Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, delegation is discussed in the context of “organizing and executing around priorities.” There is a fixed amount of time and energy to give. Your role as a leader is to step back, separate from the emotion, and work from the level of highest performance, upholding the greater vision, and creating skilled team members.

Skill: Learning to say “no” without saying no, is a life-saving skill. Lois Frankel speaks beautifully to this in her interview with Dave Stachowiak on Coaching for Leaders. The stories in your head will sabotage your performance and get the best of you. Creating skills and language around delegation will eliminate reactionary responses and shift the dynamic. Frankel gives practical examples of how to execute this talent.

Covey quotes J.C. Penny saying that “the wisest decision he ever made was to ‘let go’ after realizing that he couldn’t do it all by himself any longer. That decision enabled the development and growth of hundreds of stores and thousands of people.”

It is easy to see delegation as giving something away, but I would challenge you to think of it as providing others opportunities and growth.

My Challenge to You:

  • Become mindful as to what are the stories you are telling yourself about delegation. How does this serve you?

  • Objectively identify how your time is being spent: Print a week of your calendar and highlight three areas :

    1. Activities that are high-level and directly align with your job and only you can provide insight and action.

    2. Activities that are “informational” and your input is not required.

    3. Activities that have been added without intentionality or strategy in mind.

  • Critically look at how and where your time is being spent and what colors dominate. Is there an opportunity to delegate, eliminate, or shift focus so you are capitalizing on your inherent strengths?

*The last client I did this with immediately shaved 5 hours of meetings off her schedule!

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