We focus our career progression on “adding” things to our resume: knowledge, relationships, “wins,” experiences, promotions, raises, and more. What we don’t do as intentionally is subtracting from our professional plate as we add new elements. And, when the pile we’ve amassed is too large, we find ourselves overwhelmed and even resentful of the chaotic position we find ourselves in.
Unfortunately, this is a lesson I’ve learned over and over as I’ve grown and matured in my career, and it’s one that we teach every single day in our leadership development and coaching programs. We’re always studying the mindset of generous and continuous delegators and also exploring the thinking of the more common over-doer, over-owner, almost-hoarder of work who finds themselves stuck under a mountain of responsibility without relief.
So, as you grow in your career, what would happen if you decided that every single day, you’d make it a point to give opportunities, assignments, and credit to others? What would life be like if you gave it all away? Let’s imagine it. When you generously delegate:
- Your talent would develop faster because they are given opportunities to rise into new experiences regularly
- Bright team members might enjoy working with you more, because:
- They feel that you trust them and believe in them
- They are challenged and given fresh, new experiences
- They are being elevated in their skills and abilities
- Talent likes working with you more, they stay and you’re able to develop real knowledge capital and leverage
- You create time on your own schedule to engage in more proactive activities that build the business, like communications, learning, planning, personal marketing, organization design and development, innovation, and people development
- You are able to take vacation with a clearer mind, knowing you have developed people behind you to handle things in your absence. That way, you return from “real” time off refreshed and energized
- You are able to go deeper with the clients you serve because you have fewer to focus on
- You develop greater economic leverage, because you move work down to be completed by those who command a lower rate per hour than you do, which will increase profits
- You open yourself up for promotion to the next level, if desired, by backfilling your current role and creating the capacity a level down to also step up and function at new levels of performance
- Your organization is able to expand, grow and take on more, because you’ve developed capable leaders to drive and develop new service and industry areas
- You set an example for other leaders in your firm who see that giving it all away benefits you and the organization greatly, so it becomes a cultural norm
- You leave a legacy that can continue without you, that will sustain into the future and benefit others for years to come
With all of these awesome benefits, why do we resist delegation? Here are some of the most common objections we tell ourselves:
- “I don’t have time to teach someone else to do this or to transition properly.”
- But you have time to deal with disgruntled team members who don’t feel their progressing fast enough?
- And you have time to fill open positions left by those who leave because they don’t feel trusted, nurtured, and developed?
- And you have time to continue to work evenings or weekends to complete work that someone else could be doing if you’d take the time to teach them?
- “What if I delegate to someone and they leave our firm anyway?”
- Because you made someone better because of their affiliation with you, and many will remember this investment you made, and the investment will pay dividends
- Then you transition the delegated work to someone else on your team or someone new
- But what if you don’t invest in your people and they stay, without progressing, elevating, and adding value over time?
- “When I first delegate, the outcomes won’t be as good as I could produce myself.”
- That’s definitely a possibility. And yet, let’s stop and pause and re-read that objection, looking for the arrogance in this thinking. We all had to start somewhere, and someone gave us the grace and coaching to grow and develop
- Sometimes – and more often than you might expect – you’ll delegate and empower a team member and they’ll take on your old task and automate it or innovate around it, and ultimately make it better
- And it’s possible that they will be faster and better than you were later as they master the delegated task
- “What will I do if I am not doing the things I’ve always done?”
- You’ll learn, grow, and expand your personal abilities
- You’ll use any new time gained to develop knowledge, talent, clients, or innovative new approaches
As you read these most common delegation objections, you’ll find that they betray a selfish and fearful mindset. And I know that’s not what we’re committed to being. We each are called to be generous, inspiring, and motivating leaders. To influence outcomes through the generous giving of our time, knowledge, and opportunity.
In a recent Leadership Lunch Chat with my friend, Amy Vetter, we were interviewing our friend and colleague Joey Havens, Managing Partner of HORNE, LLP on the subject of generous leadership. Joey shared something like this: you spend your career collecting stars for your chest and at some point, you have to give them all away. I love this idea and wonder, why not start giving some of your stars away every day?
In the end, when you leave your firm, you’ll give it all away, anyway. And that’s a little late in the day to develop confidence and competence in others to go on without you.
Begin your quest today – give it all away!