Disengaged man with a hand over his face

How to Ditch Disastrous Delegation

I love cake. I mean, I reaaaally love it!

But say I am given a cake that serves twelve and I try to eat it all myself, I’m going to feel pretty sick. That’s not to say I don’t love cake anymore, but too much will leave anyone wiped out, lethargic, or just ill!

You know that, just by sharing a few slices, you could have avoided feeling totally rubbish but you really wanted it all.

And now you’re feeling awful, and your mates think you are totally selfish.

By giving away even just a bit, this whole situation could have been avoided.

So why are we talking about this?

I know it sounds obvious, but so many leaders want to just dive in and take on their version of the whole cake.

But business is no different. You need to share the workload. You need to DELEGATE!

Here’s the thing – something weird stops us

We must ask ourselves this first question – Why are we taking on too much in the first place?

This could come down to a number of factors, so let’s take a look at what they may be.

Need for Control

As a leader it is easy to feel like, as everything your team does ultimately falls back on you, it is best done yourself, isn’t it?

But, before you know it you can slip into one of two things – the micromanaging spiral, or the “I’ll do it myself” drama triangle.

It is natural to want to know what your team is doing at any one time, but you have to allow them to operate in their own space within your wider leadership.

I don’t know about you, but when someone is on my shoulder all the time, watching what I am doing, I end up telling them to do it themselves because I don’t feel trusted. 

And if you are already doing it yourself anyway, their confidence is going to be shot to pieces so then they probably would just end up fulfilling your fear of not doing it as good as you.

But you may have just created that yourself.

The reality of that need is often fear. The fear of failure and lack of trust that your team can support your aims. 

This is where you have to look at why you brought this team together in the first place.

You assembled this group to do a job for you and you must trust them when it comes down to distributing and delegating your workload. It will also help keep them engaged, interested and motivated.

Guilt

I hear it all the time, “Giving people work makes me feel guilty”.  “They will think I am lazy.” 

But this should be exactly the opposite.  That is your job.

Many of us have been brought up with a really great (too great) work ethic and have been taught that things should be hard work, or we should work hard.

So, when we start to delegate it feels like we are putting on others and shirking our responsibilities.

But we need to remember our role – To enable a team.

And forget that ingrained behaviour and belief system for the new one that recognises that real success is where we all play a role, not beat ourselves up for not being the hardest working person in the room.

Frustration & Disappointment

Oh, we’ve all been there when we get up the confidence to delegate and then Bam! 

Terrible result. ☹

We then go through the emotions of frustration, disappointment and beating ourselves up because of the good old “told you so, that was a bad idea. Should have done it yourself”.

But hang on a minute, we need to look at that in a different way.

Did we set them up to succeed or fail?

Did we make sure they had the skill, the will, and the way to achieve what we asked them to?

If not, then that’s our fault and, not only that, but we can also do a great deal about it.

And we must.

This is the art of delegation and of leadership.

To take our team from can’t do, won’t do, or don’t do, to can do, want to, and will do.

We need to help people see why they should do a task, why they should do it for you and how they should do it.  Then they can just get on with it with certainty and belief in their own abilities.

Because of course, no one will have the exact same vision or way of working within a group, unless we explain why it should be this way.

So, we need to be able to communicate and inspire those around us to see our vision and the output that we are looking for.   

Individuals may need a few attempts to get a task right but if you, as their leader, jump in too soon or too often and take over, you are robbing them of the opportunity to develop and save you work in the future.

And remember, they may even have a better way of doing something than you, if you would just trust and let them!

Over belief in our own abilities

Just because you have been doing this for 20 years, doesn’t mean that no one else could be as good as you. 

If you gave them the chance they would develop. 

But if they are better than you, then where does that leave you?

Maybe for some of us, ego gets in the way of developing others to a point that we can step back. 

We don’t want it as much as we need it!

So, we must see the bigger picture.   Remind ourselves, it is not about us, but about the greater good.  And we need to leave our ego at home, or we will be a very busy person indeed.

So next time you are worried about delegating, just think “how can I make this work” with three questions.

Is it can’t do, or won’t do or I don’t want to do it for you?

Then once you know, you are halfway there, and you can work on each one of these differently.

Then you will be able to have your cake and eat it!

If you would like to find out about that then that is exactly what we teach on our leaders’ development programs. 

Drop me a line to find out how you can get some help with implementing better delegation strategies and mindset for a happier, more confident team and a more chilled you.

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