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Delegation - A Crucial Leadership Skill

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Delegation

Delegation – A Crucial Leadership Skill

Ask yourself this question. “If I were not around the next two months, would my company survive without me?” If your answer is an unequivocal yes, then you’ve likely mastered the importance of delegation.

As the founder, leader, or owner of a business, everything is your responsibility until you give it away. A real sign you’re in need of help. When important tasks begin slipping through the cracks, it’s time to start sharing the load of responsibility.

When you do not delegate, or delegate ineffectively you end up stressed, fatigued, working longer hours and in the end you become the cog in the wheel instead of the person turning the wheel.

On the other hand, when you master the art of delegation, you feel more free and end up focusing on the activities you enjoy most. Be it strategic, creative, operational or financial, delegation allows us to turn over those tasks which we are not competent in, to those who are. Thereby providing your team members an opportunity to grow and make significant contributions to the company.

Delegate To the Right Person

Let’s face it some responsibilities are hard to let go. But when you have confidence in the person, it makes the transition a littler easier. How do you find the right person? Consider what tasks or projects someone on your team has been successful at in the past. Would this opportunity excite them? Do they show a natural passion for this type of work?  When I assign someone a new responsibility I measure success by how quickly he or she accomplishes the task and how well they achieved it. If it gets done quickly and beyond my expectations, it tells me that person has a natural aptitude for the work.

If the task is worth removing from your plate, then there might be a learning curve associated with it. But it’s worth investing in. Like any good investment, you have to give it time to grow. Remember, you are investing in both your employee and yourself. You are providing someone else the opportunity to develop and grow their skill set while freeing up your time to do more of what you love.

Avoid Passive Delegation

Steer clear of temporary delegation. Just because you find yourself busy does not mean you should give and take responsibility away from your employees. I call this boomerang delegation, and when you engage in this, people never feel they have the authority required to make the job their own and truly excel at it.

The process for successful delegation takes time. Do not start with the riskiest aspects of your business. Instead, start small and give more and responsibility through increments.

For example, I no longer have to negotiate pricing with our customers or Approved Supplier™ facilities. This evolution did not happen overnight. It was the result of many steps set in motion years ago. Each task I turned over gave our team members a better understanding of the concepts they needed to learn. As their knowledge grew, so did their interest. The small steps we took and the investment in teaching them how to succeed, gave them the confidence needed to deal with the most important aspects of our business. It also gave our customers confidence in my employees. It’s a nice feeling to know our relationships are not entirely dependent on me.

Another example, I no longer have to make several trips a year to China. Through our VP Operations and our team based in Suzhou they handle most of the business, and are greatly respected by our entire stakeholder base. In a country where the average yearly personnel turnover is 25 percent, we have had zero turnover in four years. When you promote a culture of growth and responsibility, each team member has the opportunity to feel more connected to the business, and as a result I have more freedom.

One caution before we move on, not every decision can be delegated. Some decisions and responsibility must remain in your hands. As leaders we can never shed complete responsibility, nor would we want to. The idea however, is to minimize our responsibilities and delegate the authority so that we can focus on what creates the most value for our company.

Spark Creativity

When you delegate you build a team where everyone is able to operate in a role they excel at. This creates a collaborative environment, and collaboration sparks creativity. Confidence will come next. Through increased confidence your team will have the mental space to be creative and generate profitable solutions.

We all have tasks at which we are not competent in. Leaders need to admit that fact. In turn, there are probably individuals within your organization who are more proficient, so why not take advantage of that?

I often say I will retire when work stops being fun. Right now, I am pleased to say work is still fun. I have the freedom to focus the jobs I enjoy most, and if I were to step away for a couple of months, I have the complete confidence my team could manage successfully without me. Don’t you want that same feeling?

 

Three Steps To Successful Delegation

  1. Start from the idea you own everything. Then consider which of those tasks you would prefer not to perform, and which of those can be given to other members of your team.

  2. Decide what/who is worth investing in. There are two types of investments—investment in your own freedom, and investment in the person getting the new responsibility. Consider if the short-term investment is worth the long-term gain?

  3. Avoid boomerang delegation. Start small, check in often, and work your way up to bigger responsibilities.

Until next time,

Gary Mottershead