Getting Leaders To Delegate
Picture this, you have a leader who is wonderful. They do great work, have a great attitude, fit the company culture, but they work every night until 8:00pm and they are so burned out their very existence is about to implode on itself. Plus, they get low scores on the issue of developing their people. How can such a star employee be headed for such a train wreck. Often it’s because they just won’t delegate.

To get leaders to understand the need to delegate, it is first critical to get them to understand the reason they hang on so dearly to tasks, and to have them understand with great clarity the consequences of not handing the job off to another person. Until they really become aware of why they do what they do, and the cost to the organization for doing it, they are unlikely to change because delegation is not a skill, it is an awareness so the solution is to make leaders aware.

In our experience, leaders don’t delegate, or better said hang on to tasks for a couple of primary reasons, both of which stem from the leader’s self-identity. First, if the leader’s identity is in personally providing the quality result of a job to the company, they don’t delegate because it’s like they are delegating what they are known for. How does that make sense? Secondly, and it pertains to high multi taskers, is their identity and their accolades comes from multitudes of tasks they can juggle at once. To delegate means they give away their multi-tasking identity and that makes even less sense. Even if it means the leader works unbearable hours and will eventually self destruct.

The solution, redefine the leader’s role to a place where their identity, what they are known for shows up every time they delegate. To accomplish this, reconnect the leader to their career path because what makes a leader promotable is their ability to get their team to drive the same quality output that they have been known for. For example, the leader can delegate the task of developing a Power Point slide deck, but still be responsible for the quality of the presentation, the message, the delivery. Demonstrating ones influence over the team performance is significantly more promotable than doing quality work themselves. In addition, connect the high multi-tasker to the understanding that they are not giving up tasks by delegating, but making room for more strategic efforts and decisions by delegating. Plus, their identity is now measured by team engagement and performance which is accomplished by trusting people to do a good job.

If leaders who don’t delegate could just flip a switch and delegate more, they would have already done it. What often inhibits delegation is when leaders feel delegating infringes on their identity. When they feel every time they delegate a task, they are giving up a part of themselves. Help them become aware of their new identity, and you will find leaders much more willing to delegate.