“The surest way for an executive to kill himself is to refuse to learn how, and when, and to whom to delegate work.” – J.C. Penny
If you ever feel work hours are far too many, emails and texts overwhelming, problems to solve never ending, and projects to complete ever growing, you are drowning! One fascinating thing about “drowning” in life is that it is often an element essential to life, just like water, that is killing you! Water is a good thing, but an unmanaged, excessive amount of it can literally bury you.
Your lifeline in this situation is delegation! Delegation is entrusting a task or responsibility to someone else who is equipped to do it. Below, I have listed 7 reasons as to why leaders often do not want to delegate. Don’t let any of these be your excuse because not delegating will have a poor effect on both you and your team!
1. We don’t count the actual cost of not delegating.
Ellen was a successful director of a small business with an annual budget of six million dollars, over 28 employees, and a salary and benefits package valued at over $150,000. During a coaching session, we discussed the pressure she felt and the sense of drowning she experienced as a result of so many responsibilities. I asked her to list some of the tasks she had worked on over the past month. The list was very long! Next, I asked her to identify which of these tasks only she could do. There were a number of items on this second list that I questioned. Then, I asked her this painful question: "You make about $72 per hour. Would you hire and pay an employee $72 per hour to do these same tasks?" That hurt because she realized she would never pay someone that much money to do what she was doing! This example demonstrates the point that a failure to wisely manage delegation can ultimately result in poor stewardship of your resources and a significant loss of money when extrapolated over the whole company.
2. We are concerned about the quality of the task.
Let's face it, we often just don't believe others will do the job as good as us. And, if we let them try and they don't perform well, how will that make us look? In some ways, there is a little narcissist residing in all of us, isn't there? While it may be true that some gifted leaders can have a magic touch in how they do certain tasks, this does not mean the task cannot or should not be delegated to others.
3. We do not have the time it takes to explain the task.
Sometimes, it is far more quick to just do something yourself, right? After all, it takes time to clearly explain what we want or to train someone to do it. However, doing it ourselves is only a short term solution for us; it is only looking at what is urgent rather than what is important for the long term.
4. We are being shaped by the fears that lurk within us.
- Fear of losing influence and authority.
- Fear of giving up control.
- Fear of not being needed.
- Fear that someone may do a better job than us.
5. We were burned by trying to delegate in the past.
Sometimes we have delegated only to be embarrassed by the task not being completed to the quality we expected or even at all. This can cause us to be slow to delegate again even though such a response will hold us back and contribute to the feeling of drowning.
6. We like doing the task ourselves.
Sometimes, we don't delegate for a very simple reason, we like the task! For example, even though another employee can put together the graphics for our PowerPoint presentation, we may actually like doing it ourselves because we like the creative element involved or we want it to look a certain way.
7. We have a high need for affirmation and recognition.
While few will acknowledge it, and some may not even be aware of it, we as leaders/employees like to be affirmed. Often this recognition comes from doing something that we are good at and that others appreciate. The more they tell us how much they appreciate what we are doing, the harder it is to delegate it!
The above 7 statements are reasons why we don’t want to delegate, not why we shouldn’t! If you want to stop sinking and start swimming, start delegating now!
Jay is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.