There are forces that lead us to delegate – but many things that keep leaders resisting delegation, too. I’ve long thought this is one of the big paradoxes of leadership – and one that many people never completely or confidently unravel. In this short article, I’ll help you see the logical and emotional reasons for resisting delegation and why you must work to overcome them.
I don’t need to make a list of the reasons you or others might be resisting delegation – you know or feel them already. Rather, I want to help you see the value and importance of delegation – and how when it is done well it does more than take work off your plate.
When you delegate work to others, it creates at least four benefits to the greater organization:
- Greater flexibility. When more people can successfully do a task, there are more options for who will do it at any given time – allowing flexibility to move work across multiple team members, cover vacations, and more.
- Greater sustainability. When only one person knows how to do a task, it can create a process bottleneck at best, and at worst, cause small crises if someone is unable to work. If only one person ever does a task, what happens if that person isn’t available? Every egg in one basket is rarely a good solution.
- Building a pipeline. As you delegate more meaningful work, you are beginning to prepare others to take your role. After all, when you get promoted, you want someone ready to fill your shoes, right?
- Supporting empowerment. Most all organizations would like a culture and a workplace of empowerment and engagement. It is hard to build that sense when leaders are holding on to tasks for themselves with a death grip.
Benefits to Others
While the organization benefits when you stop resisting delegation and begin to allow others to do valuable work, the individuals you are delegating to have much to gain as well. Chances are, someone has delegated something to you in the past and you noticed one or more of these personal benefits.
- Professional growth. How do people grow in their role if they aren’t given new things to try and learn? Delegating valuable and important work to others is an important way to help people grow both professionally and personally.
- Increased confidence. When someone takes on new work, and finds success in doing it, their confidence grows.
- Broader perspective. As people have the chance to do different work it helps them see all their work differently and see how all of the pieces of the work fit together. A broader perspective helps them be more effective and make better, more informed decisions when problems arise.
- More meaningful work. This point could almost go without saying but is perhaps the most important. When people are entrusted with new important work, it makes them feel more valued – which they are.
Benefits to Yourself
- Time for higher value work. Perhaps this is the most obvious of the reasons. When others can do some of the things on your to-do list, you have time for the higher value things that you never seem to get to (unless or until they become urgent). Wouldn’t you like a bit more time to work on the most important work on your plate, rather than moving from fire to fire?
- Greater flexibility. It is pretty simple, when you delegate some work, you have more flexibility about what work you will do when. Effective delegation can give you margin in your day and week. I’ve met few leaders who didn’t want more flexibility in their work.
- Increased trust. Want higher levels of trust with others and across your team? Effective delegation is one of the best ways you can offer and build trust on a team.
- Professional growth. Effective delegation, for all of the reasons listed here and a bunch more, is critical to you becoming a successful and effective leader. The sooner you become proficient at it, the more your confidence will grow, your stress will be reduced, and your chances for advancement will blossom.
When you look at it in this broader context it is easy to see that if you continue resisting delegation, you are being selfish and hurting everyone involved – including, ironically, yourself.
I hope that reading this list helps you overcome the resistance that you might feel to delegation. Having intellectual agreement though, might not be enough. The next time you are resisting delegation, read this list as a reminder to yourself that handing off some work – especially the work you really know well and like – to someone else – has far more benefits than you might immediately think.
Would you like to be more intentional, skilled, and confident in delegating to others? If so, you can get immediate, lifetime access to our Remarkable Delegation Master Class. This solution will help you understand more fully why you don’t delegate, and why you might do it poorly. You will learn the mindsets required, and most importantly have a complete toolkit to help you create great results with others doing the work that perhaps you were afraid to let go of. You will repay your small investment in this course within weeks – if not the first day!