The new year is upon us, and leaders are already wondering how to accomplish all of their 2020 goals. You can start by doing what you do best, delegating what you can, outsourcing where needed, and thinking creatively about how each task can get done the best way. It’s not all about you doing everything: in fact, it is just the opposite.
One of the most difficult transitions for leaders to make is the shift from doing to leading. Eventually, the difference between being an effective leader and a super-sized individual contributor with a leader’s title becomes painfully evident. Many leaders are in a constant state of overextension, which fuels an instinctive reaction to “protect” work. This survival instinct ultimately dilutes the leader’s impact through an ongoing, limited effect on others. To know if you’re guilty of holding on to too much, answer this simple question: If you had to take an unexpected week off work, would your initiatives and priorities advance in your absence? (HBR 2017)
Leaders lament about the lack of “work life balance”. Upon further exploration this is often actually a discussion about delegation. Without delegation, chaos ensues, goals are missed and stress is on red alert!
Common limiting beliefs about delegation:
Major impacts of lack of delegation:
- I can’t delegate. It has to be done “right”, which means I need to do it.
- I can’t give my employees even one more thing to do. They are busy already and can’t take on anything else. So, I will just do it myself.
- If I delegate, my boss|peers|employees will think that I don’t want to work hard.
Here’s the solution:
- Chaos ensues with leaders and employees frantically performing nonproductive tasks with little time for skill or strategy building.
- The leader is “too busy” and feels a lack of work-life balance. The leader can’t take on anything developmental. This limits the leader’s career growth and leaves her frustrated when she is passed over for a promotion for which she is not skilled.
- Employees are held back – too busy doing the routine tasks to take on anything new or developmental. This is especially critical, because without development our best employees leave in search of challenges beyond the routine daily tasks.
- Without delegation process improvement is stifled. You just keep doing tasks simply because you’ve always done them.
Build a development culture – one where delegation is possible and expected. A culture requiring that before senior leaders take on a new task, assignment or role, they must first delegate a task, assignment or role, to a leader on their team. What leaders normally do is pick the task, assignment or role they don’t want to do anymore. However, it must be one that senior leader is no longer learning or growing from doing, AND one from which the new owner would gain skills and enrichment. Prior to this new leader taking on the delegated task, they must first delegate a task to a team member, within similar parameters. This domino approach can cascade several layers into the organization. The effect of this domino delegation often leads to process improvement – through the identification of tasks that are being done simply because they always have been and the discontinuation of tasks that are no longer adding value.
Building a coaching environment helps successful organizations, leaders, and employees become even more successful in five key ways:
- Continuing growth and development for all.
- Decreased risk of burnout for all.
- Frequent process improvement.
- Increased productivity.
- Goal attainment.
Harris Whitesell Consulting can help you design and build a development culture that works for your organization. We help you maximize leadership excellence and business success!
Lynn Whitesell provides advanced expertise in leadership solutions, organization and culture transformation and executive coaching. She co-founded Harris Whitesell Consulting, LLC to partner with leaders and organizations to help them achieve measurable improvement and reach their full potential. For more information visit harriswhitesellconsulting.com.