One of the most difficult transitions for new leaders to make is the shift from doing to leading.
As an early-stage business owner or manager, you can get away with holding on to work. People may even admire your willingness to keep “rolling up your sleeves” to execute tactical assignments. But as a business grows your responsibilities become more complex, the difference between an effective leader and a super-sized individual contributor with a leader’s title is painfully evident.
In the short term, you may have the stamina to get up earlier, stay later, and out-work the demands you face. But the inverse equation of shrinking resources and increasing demands will eventually catch up to you, and at that point how you involve others sets the ceiling of your leadership impact.
Often the business owner is inexperienced in leading a team and is not sure of the responsibilities of a leader. You started off as a one-or-two-person operation and now you have employees to manage. Your team is growing, and you need to make the adjustment from being the person who does the work into the person who leads the people who do the work.
Many business owners have spent so much time and effort learning about the service or product their business provides. However, now is the time to develop your leadership, delegation, recruiting and training skills. After all, you don’t get the team you want, you get the team you deserve. If you want a better team, now is the time to grow YOUR skills so that you can get and keep better people to make your business flourish
So, what are the key responsibilities of the leader?
Firstly, to set goals. Both the big goals, the vision, the 3–5-year targets as well as the small goals – the 90 days priorities, the weekly to-do list.
Secondly, to build the team. In his book, called Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, Verne Harnish describes his formula for winning this way. He says, “Winning teams have the right people doing the right things right.”
What I see in a lot of newer, younger, early-stage businesses is a ton of vision being shared. A great vision attracts a lot of great people. You keep them and inspire them with vision. But as the business travels along the path of growth and adds more people, it becomes much more about alignment. That requires processes such as strategic planning, delegation, and a team meeting rhythm to create accountability throughout the business and that allows a business to grow.
Thirdly, to monitor progress and provide support. The leader is there to develop, not to punish. It’s the leader’s responsibility to care for the team members and engage with them on a personal level – they are not machines! The leader’s job is to unblock the issues and obstacles getting in the way of them doing a great job.
Here’s the bottom line:
Your job as a leader and manager is to develop people. Delegation is the means by which you bring out the very best in the people that you have.
Good delegation develops your people, grooms a successor, and motivates.
On the other hand, poor delegation will cause you frustration, demotivates and confuses the other person, and fails to achieve the task or purpose itself.
So, what gets in the way, – what are the barriers to delegation?
There are typically a bunch of reasons, why managers don’t delegate so let’s just go over a few of them.
It could be the belief that your team cannot do the job as well as you do it.
Or the belief that it takes less time for you to do the work than delegate the responsibility.
It might be a lack of trust that the team can do the work at the level you need.
Sometimes we need to make ourselves feel indispensable.
Other times it’s rewarding, it’s your business and you enjoy doing the work yourself.
This last one may not be that common, but it sometimes happens that people feel like everyone’s overworked, and they feel guilty about handing that work to others.
What I see very often though, is that poor delegation turns the business owner into a hub and spoke manager. Where nothing happens in your business or your team unless somebody consults with you and every time, they have a problem or need to make a decision, you are being consulted.
And it just feels like you’re being pecked all the time, or never able to get anyone to make decisions and it’s kind of that way because you’ve trained them to think that way. That anytime they have a question or anytime they feel like they need a decision, they’re not going to take the responsibility for it because you’ve always done it in the past, in fact, you prefer it that way. Yet it’s having this negative outcome for you because if you’re not around the business is never going to work.
When you delegate tasks and responsibilities appropriately, with structure and forethought, it will free you from the crushing load of tactical work that keeps you from working on your business and truly fulfilling your responsibilities as the leader.
When done right, delegation is a powerful skill. But like any skill, it does take time to learn and master.