The Critical Role of Delegation in Fast-Growth Companies
“I don’t delegate because it’s easier just to do it myself.” Or “No one can do this as well as I can.”
Sound familiar? We’ve all said it. But this thinking is flawed.
Delegating does take time and effort. And maybe you can do it faster or better. But there’s only one of you, and you don’t scale.
The Delegation Dilemma
A leader’s direct involvement in all aspects of the business keeps a young company on track. But as the company grows, a leader needs to be able to defer power to managers – you have to find a way to share responsibility.
It may sound easy, but it’s not. Many executives find it difficult to step back, delegate responsibility, and let their teams do the work.
It’s easy to spot leaders who haven’t made this shift. They’re perfecting tomorrow’s sales pitch at 4 a.m. Instead of teaching the team to be successful on their own, the leader stays mired in the details.
It’s common for executives of growing companies to feel like they are the only ones that can handle important parts of the business. Every day you must make decisions, some big and some small, about the organization – about your culture, employees, customers, products, strategy, and more. As a result, very few things get your undivided attention. And that will become a problem.
In other words: For you to continue to hold on to everything is no longer in the best interests of the company. In fact, your continued growth depends on recognizing that you need the help of others.
As a business grows so do the responsibilities of its leader. There’s zero chance that you can do it all.
Having everything go through one leader (or even a small set of leaders) limits growth. If you are the one who has to make every decision, a huge stumbling block is created for getting things done.
The biggest reason to delegate is that not delegating makes it impossible to scale. It simply doesn’t work over the long term. This is why so many executives of growing companies are overwhelmed and burned out. The business must be able to run without you.
Get your processes out of your head and documented so that you don’t become the bottleneck in your business. When your employees can’t get things done without you, you can’t focus on growing your team and scaling your business.
Great leaders realize they can’t do everything by themselves. You must learn to let go and trust others.
Delegation is the unspoken acknowledgement that you trust someone else to get the job done. You need enough trust to delegate authority, not simply tasks. Delegating tasks creates followers; delegating authority creates leaders. The only way to scale judgment in an organization is to give people the freedom to succeed and fail. Your job is to support and coach along the way.
There’s another important lesson here: By giving the people around you a chance to develop their talents, you’re also giving yourself a chance to grow.
The Keys to Effective Delegation
There are four basic keys to effective delegation:
- Delegate responsibility;
- Agree upon the desired objectives;
- Grant others the authority to take the actions needed to achieve the objectives; and
- Monitor progress; provide feedback, support, and coaching.
Good Delegators Are Good Teachers
To embrace delegation you have to acknowledge that what comes naturally to you may have to be learned by others who will sometimes make mistakes. Delegation means letting go, trusting others, teaching, and it takes patience. It takes listening to the challenges people are having, it takes getting the right people in the right positions, and it takes accepting mistakes as part of the process. You’ve got to learn to live with the fact that people will not always get it right. Your job is to teach, coach, and correct.
Effective delegation doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s absolutely critical to the long-term success of a growing company.
Although you remain the ultimate decision authority, you must turn over some responsibilities and authority to others and share your knowledge with them so they can learn. If you keep yourself buried in the details, you’ll never have the time or perspective to move on to bigger things.
Are you an effective delegator?