In the corporate world I work with emerging leaders and senior executives who all struggle with delegation of projects, tasks, or authority to team members. In my friend group I notice the same hesitancy when it comes to delegating chores or errands to older children or partners. Like everyone reading this email, I’m busy and often say to myself a few times a day, “I wish I had someone who could help.”
The truth is I probably have more access to help than I realize. It is quite possible we all do.
So why don’t we delegate more? After all, it seems so simple. However, there are a few reasons many of us struggle in this realm:
We are obsessed with control.
This ego-based thought is sneaky. No matter if it is personal or professional, when we catch ourselves saying, “I’ll just do it myself” or “I would ask but he doesn’t load the dishwasher the way I do,” we are in a control trap. Our obsession with controlling details that only matter to us is what stands in the way of delegating. These controlling thoughts breed micromanaging which no one (especially direct reports and loved ones) appreciates.
We feel insecure.
This fear-based thought can be paralyzing. We are scared that if we do not do the task ourselves, we will be seen as obsolete. When in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Your role as a leader or care/home taker is dependent upon all your talents, vision, and guidance. The best thing you can do for a direct report is to transfer skill sets so when your team grows so do you. Doing better together is what every leader should strive for.
We don’t want to let go.
We all have those tasks, events, and roles we play and take on just because we always have. Hosting the holidays, planning the trips, always setting the agenda for the meeting - we secretly complain about doing these things, but the minute someone else offers we are quick to refuse the help. If you notice yourself in this position, it is time for some deep thinking. Really think about what it is about the task that is making you struggle to let it go. Is it because you saw your parents host the holidays and you want to carry on the tradition? Or because the last time your friend planned the trip you overpaid significantly? If you decide that the task has deep meaning, then keep it but learn to enjoy doing it. If after some deep thought you realize you are holding on unnecessarily, let the task go.
Often, we forget that delegation is a skill that takes practice. When we delegate, yes, we are giving up control and we must get comfortable knowing that the task or project will get done differently (and maybe not as well in our own eyes) from how we would have done it. However, the benefits of delegation are easily seen when you notice that you have created extra time in a day allowing you AND the person who you delegated to learn and grow.