September 15, 2016

Pass the Baton


I’m about to go out of town for a long work trip.

The problem is, I am responsible for a lot of upcoming and ongoing projects on the home front, and will still be responsible even while out of town. I have been identified as the best person to represent our organization on this trip, but do I neglect my other work that is equally important? This dilemma is a common occurrence in today’s leaders. Capacity is an important topic within leadership. Managing your capacity will determine if you are a leader of a little or a lot.

There are plenty of things that take your attention, but do all of them need you to be hands-on? This post does not address those things that actually require your attention; that is to say, the things that only you are suited do, – Instead, we are addressing everything else that you are holding onto–those things that do not need you specifically. As you grow as a leader, what compels you to hold tight to tasks and responsibilities as you continually add more?

Maybe it is one of these reasons:

  • Habit – You are so used to doing it, you don’t realize you are doing it.
  • Control Issues – You want to do everything, just the way you want it done.
  • Lack of Trust – You don’t trust anyone to do what you have been doing.
  • No Team – You don’t have anyone to whom you can delegate responsibilities.
  • Old Needs – You do things that don’t need to be done anymore.

No matter the reason, you will not be able to increase your capacity without delegation. We all know the meaning of the word, delegate: “to entrust a task or responsibility to another person.” However, for some of us, it is hard to implement delegation. Here are some steps to consider when you desire to delegate.

Step 1: Build Trust

You are not going to delegate a task or responsibility to someone you do not trust. Are they competent to not only do their job well but also to know their limitations and ask for help when needed? Have they shown you that they are ready for more?

Step 2: Build Skills

Your people are capable of growing if given the chance. What skills are they missing that would allow them to take on additional responsibility? Are you allowing them to practice these new skills?

Step 3: Start Small

No need to reorganize your structure just to delegate. Start by giving away a task or two. As the delegation relationship matures, give more responsibility away. You may start with daily check-ins, but eventually move to weekly and monthly check-ins as needed.

Step 4: Be Available

You are the current expert and, as such, your team will look to you for guidance. Don’t leave your new delegate out to hang. Allow for coaching and mentoring to take place.

Step 5: Get Out of the Way

Recognize that you are not the same person as your delegate. They will not do everything like you would do it; don’t micromanage. Allow them to make reasonable mistakes, and to make improvements. You may discover you were never the best person to do that task in the first place.

This week, make a list of everything you are responsible for. Now circle what only you, as the leader, are equipped to do. With the remaining list, work towards increasing your capacity by delegating those responsibilities out. Don’t be afraid to release them, because once you do, you will open your schedule up to allow for more opportunities.

by Ricky Escobar

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