Delegate? But I Do It Better!

It’s Easier to Do It Myself…

You’re probably good at what you do. That’s why you’re in the position that you’re in. But now you’ve become the bottleneck. How can you possibly find time to do the tasks you’re expert at and lead others?

The answer is…You can’t!

Something Has to Give

As your organization grows, the demands on you also grow. If you want to model the Peter Principle and “rise to your highest level of incompetence” just try doing it all yourself.

So you have a choice.

Option 1: You can choose to remain in your field of expertise and do what you’re so good at. This means leaving the leadership and management responsibilities (and authority) to others. There’s nothing wrong with that choice. But you need to live out that choice and not get in the way of those who pick up the leadership mantle. Stay in your lane and let them do their job.

Option 2: Grow your leadership skills and develop others to succeed in your field of expertise. This is a harder path to follow. It’s difficult to watch others do our work with lesser skill. And even harder to see ourselves fumbling with responsibilities we’re not yet competent in. Those we’re mentoring will make mistakes in your field. You will make mistakes while learning to lead. But if you want to lead organizational growth, set aside your ego and embrace your personal growth process.

Learning to Delegate

The novice in your field won’t deliver the same quality and quantity of work as you. It took you years to get to your current competence level. So why would you expect them to start at your level? Here are a few starter ideas on letting go while growing their abilities:

  • Decompose your work. They can’t deliver a finished product like you can, but what parts of the process consume the most of your time while requiring the least of your expertise? Delegate those. Even if you have to review and edit their work, will your review take less time (once they learn the basics) than doing it all yourself? That makes time for you to work on your new skills.
  • Be a mentor, not a critic. This is basic leadership. Intentionally affirm what they learn and coach them to learn from their mistakes. The training process goes much quicker this way.
  • Be willing to slow down to go faster. As we make room in our day by having others take some of our load, the temptation is to take on more work to fill the gap. In the short term, this feels like growth. But long-term growth comes from saying “no” to more of the same and intentionally develop our leadership skills to help others find success in our field.

If anyone told you this was going to be easy, they lied. Leading your organization through growth requires you to learn to delegate some things (including things you’re good at and like to do) and embrace new skills that you’re probably not good at yet.

© 2023 enLumen Leadership Services

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