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Leadership Series | D = Delegated

Leaders need to learn how to delegate. I believe it was Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric, who said that if your organization can’t run without you for two weeks, then you are doing a bad job. I agree with him.

When asked about delegating duties, I’ve heard too many aspiring leaders say, “But no one can do it like I do!”

That’s really one of three things:
1) Insecurity
2) Low Self-esteem
3) Lack of Organization

Let’s dive deeper into this.

Many leaders are too insecure to let go and let others do the job they need to let go of. They fear that if the other person does a better job then they will no longer be needed. Or they fear that they will be passed over for the next promotion. Whatever the fear is, it stems from insecurity and it stifles growth. Leaders don’t stifle growth, they nurture it.

Low self-esteem is another reason people don’t let go. In addition to insecurities, they may attach too much self-worth to the job they are doing. I used to do this. One of my mentors helped me realize that I enjoyed being the guy that could solve all the problems, so I never taught anyone to handle them for themselves. I kept all the nuggets of knowledge in my head and never created any procedures or processes for others to follow because I liked being the hero. It took months, but I finally realized I had attached a lot of my personal self-worth to the completion of tasks and to the solving of difficult problems.

A third reason aspiring leaders don’t delegate is because they simply are not organized. I say that tongue in cheek, because disorganization is usually a choice and not a genetically induced condition. We simply don’t take the time or the responsibility to organize things for others. This really takes me back to reason number two, that we get self-worth from being the guy or gal that can find or solve the problem amidst chaos.

When a leader is delegated they can entrust the company to capable hands that will operate the organization, allowing the leader to spend time “away” where he can focus on the future. Or, perhaps, he’s not focusing on the future and simply needs time to rejuvenate and renew.

An example from my own experience is when I leave town to travel with my family and church for “mission” trips. That’s when we go to help people in other areas with various needs. For the last five years I’ve traveled to the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky to work alongside my son and his high school classmates as we serve people in need. I enjoy this and I am able to do this because I have delegated duties at my companies.

While I am gone, things don’t “fall apart”. We do experience, from time to time, challenges that reveal where I need to improve my delegations skills, but that is a normal part of growth. If you never leave, you never learn to delegate.

Whatever the reason for holding onto all responsibility, the only way for a leader to continue to grow their organization is to delegate. Let go of the “I do it best!” mentality and stop gaining your self worth from being the doer, and take the time to get organized. You and your company will be better because of it.

If you need help with these problems, let’s talk today. I’ve struggled and overcome these struggles with delegation and I want to help you too.

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