Some of the best leaders occasionally turn to the adage, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” but relying too much on this saying can be a counterproductive trap. Here’s a simple two-step plan to start delegating.
“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” I have heard this phrase all throughout my life. My father said this phrase over and over again. Although he has done quite well, this belief became an issue for him in his own life’s work. He could not possibly do everything but at the same time, he did not like how other people did the job. Sometimes this happened because an employee did not really want to be doing the job. At other times, the employee simply did not know what was required to perform the job to the desired expectations.
We have all had times when our inability to start delegating and trusting others to do something right has resulted in our ever growing to-do lists, exhaustion and frustration. And I guarantee you that your team probably feels that frustrated energy of yours when this happens too!
Trying to do everything ourselves frustrates everyone involved. If we have hired a team and they know that we will come along and redo, question, or nitpick what the team has accomplished – a few things will likely occur. The employees will not put their hearts into making it their best work as they may just say, “Why bother?” They could put everything they have into the work hoping for the confrontation and the opportunity to prove the leader wrong. They could throw up their arms and be passive aggressive , and so on.
Since I have gotten caught up in the “I need to do this myself” mode, more often than I would have liked to, I devised a two-step plan to curb my inner control freak and start delegating.
Step 1 – Start with your own job description
I suggest that we as leaders we look at our own job descriptions. Put pen to paper and build our job description at the start of every project or undertaking. Yes, every project and even everyday if possible! What are the characteristics we need to demonstrate each day to execute a said strategy? Base your responsibilities on your own core strengths. Make sure you establish clear boundaries and limitations when it comes to your job description. Now, I am listing this as an action item based on the assumption that we all have a strategy and operating plan in place that our team helped us organize.
Step 2 – Choose your team
Once you clearly define your own job responsibilities, now select the right human capital that will allow that strategy and operating plan to succeed. We want to hire effective leaders, and we need to hire people with different strengths than our own in order to have a great team. As leaders, we need to focus on the who, what, when, where, how, and why of a job, staff that job, and then guide, teach, empower, and finally hold accountable the employee who is hired for the job. We need more than one mind or more than one strand to be successful and win a championship. We have heard this over and over in our lives through sayings such as, “two minds are better than one.” The great news is that by hiring the right team, it will be much easier to step back, let go, and trust in the team’s abilities.
As easy and obvious as these two steps may seem, they take time, patience, and humility. We need to constantly practice being able to let go of the reins. As hard and humbling as it may be, we need to accept that the right person, for the right job can truly do certain things better than us.
You may believe that in the world of “If you want the job done right, do it yourself,” there is sometimes no room for “two minds are better than one,” but I beg to differ. I actually believe these two sayings are in concert not conflict. There are certain tasks that only you can get done right, just like there are certain tasks that only one of your team members can get right. Then again, when you put your minds and efforts together, what you get is a beautiful concert of productivity as opposed to a cacophony of frustrated energies.
These two steps are a start, but in reality, there are many additional things we can do. We can drive a feeling of ownership in our business versus people feeling like workers. We can read one of many different books together with our team and drive learning and discussion around areas of improvement. We can engage in systems and process planning to improve our ability to function as a team and tackle the problems versus the symptoms. I could go on and on, but the best place I have found to begin, after setting a strategy, is to identify what it is that I need to be doing every day as a leader and reassure myself of my team’s capabilities…and this has made all the difference in my career.
Edwin Miller, the CEO of 9Lenses, is an accomplished four-time CEO recognized as both a growth and a turnaround thought leader. He has proven his skills of leadership, motivation and business model assessment and creation in both both the public and private theaters. He has successfully transformed domestic and international organizations through both organic and acquisitive means. His experience spans many different technological, horizontal and vertical markets.
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!