Executives, managers or heads of family offices see the delegation of tasks, projects or chores in a variety of ways, some bad, some good. Some see it as a sign of weakness, or an evasion of responsibility for the task itself. It’s a wasteful expense of manpower on an effort they could handle themselves, they rationalise. Maybe it’s an exercise in futility, since they believe they can do it better themselves.
Enlightened delegators know the truth can be different. Handing off responsibility for a given task can be the highest and best use of one’s time. Assuming the task at hand is one that another person or colleague could complete, as well as or even better than the delegator, assigning it to another enables the individual to pursue other, more pressing or lucrative endeavours.
In the management realm, delegating a task is a sign of strength, of self-confidence. It shows you are able to trust others to manage a task as you build the skills of your team.
A recent example revealed the importance of delegating. I have a client, a busy and successful person who admittedly has a lot on their plate. They were recently taken ill and needed some assistance managing their assets whilst in recovery. Instead of delegating tasks that could reasonably be done – and done well – by a manager or personal assistant, they struggled to “do it all.”
They were not coping well with the burden of business heaped atop their illness.
We discussed the matter. I suggested as a start, that they delegate some of the simpler tasks, both to ease their burden – and hopefully help them realise that delegation can be successful, if well managed.
That client’s case is Exhibit A of why people don’t delegate. They saw delegation both as a sign of weakness, but also a process where they must be the ultimate decision maker. After all, some tasks would require their approval or signature.
Therein lies a key distinction about delegation. Those who delegate are not abdicating authority of the task, just the responsibility for getting it done. Delegation should involve regular conversations or updates on tasks accomplished or in progress; major matters would still require approval.
If you’re new to delegating, here are a few simple steps on how can you start?
Delegation as a succession plan. If you hire good, trustworthy people, trust them with increasing levels of responsibility, and watch them rise to the occasion and grow empowered. They could one day run your department, your company or your family office.
Be available. Delegating anything isn’t an excuse to then go AWOL. Welcome their questions and answer their calls or emails. Ultimate responsibility always remains with you.
Fail – and learn – together. Handing off a project or task doesn’t excuse you from ultimate responsibility. Should your subordinate or manager make mistakes along the way, look within. Were your instructions unclear, did you give insufficient guidance, should it not have been delegated in the first place?
And always remember, Delegation is power. It brings confident comfort to the individual, freeing them of burdensome, often rote tasks, without any feeling of risk that the chore won’t be done – or done well.
Two key lessons that come with success in business and life is the realisation that you cannot do everything, and asking for help is not a sign of insecurity or weakness. Delegation helps lighten the load, advance your objectives, showcase your self-confidence – and drive greater success.
If reading this has you thinking that delegation may help lighten your load or elevate your success, but still don’t know the first steps to take, let’s talk. I’ve helped corporate executives and heads of family offices learn to delegate tasks and better manage their affairs. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org