Harnessing the Power of Delegation
Entrepreneurs and innovative leaders alike take pride in defying the odds and proving that their ideas and ways of doing business are superior to what went before. But there is a problem in the idea of singular championship. The world’s most successful entrepreneurs and companies are never built on the achievements of a single person.
We often see media profiles of individual founders or CEOs as brilliant individuals and they alone created their company’s success. But most successful leaders are those who accept the reality and have the humility to admit the need to step back from running everything and let others take ownership of key responsibilities to grow their operations.
Being able to delegate effectively is fundamental to successful leadership, especially for entrepreneurs who consider their start-up their “baby.” However, leaders who conquer must adjust to giving up complete control of every aspect of their company’s operations. This is what makes a great leader a great manager who doesn’t hamper the company’s growth potential.
Delegation requires focus on outcomes, not processes.
Let’s all agree on the premise that no two individuals are exactly the same. So don’t expect your employees to achieve the necessary and expected results following step-by-step procedures that are particular to your ways of doing things, yet have no impact on the results.
Yes, clear expectations should be set regarding timing, budgets and deliverables. It is also appropriate to monitor progress and commitment to the project. But insisting that your employees go about a task or responsibility in the same manner as you would will only hamper their ability to be successful, drain morale and negatively influence company performance.
Allocating tasks to subordinates allows you to pay attention to those areas that, as a leader, really need your attention. For delegation to be successful, leaders must ensure that employees have everything they need to do their jobs. From tools and resources to training and learning opportunities, successful delegation requires patience and support.
It’s really too expensive not to delegate properly. Evaluate the delegation of tasks and responsibilities to others as an investment into your company, not a risk to your product or service quality or the expense of an employee. If you can identify talent that is competent, qualified and trustworthy, it will benefit your organization. This task is certainly not simple, but, there are a few tricks of the trade to find the right leaders for your organization.
Emphasize potential over experience.
Regardless of whether you are hiring your first employee or selecting a current worker to take on more responsibilities, focus on likely probable future capabilities versus previous experience. This is not to say past performance isn’t an important indicator of success, competence and expertise, but you must look beyond just that. Consider a person’s aptitude, desire to learn new skills and their inherent potential. Depending on the role, take into account leadership potential. The best individual contributors may not be cut out to be leaders, even if their performance is stellar. Some people are followers, while others are meant to be followed. This is where considering potential over experience comes in.
Look for an individual’s investment toward your company and the connection of their own professional achievements to the success of the company. Workers who make suggestions for process or procedural improvements will frequently go above and beyond what they are asked to do and produce tangible results. For delegation to be successful, you need workers who won’t just take instruction, but will also think critically as to how their piece of the puzzle fits into the bigger picture.
You most certainly do not want employees who are more interested in saving their own skin over admitting to the part they have played in either the failure or success of a project. Taking accountability for not only successes, but also failures, shows a desire and aptitude to take ownership, as well as to learn and grow from their experiences. Employees with this characteristic will save you time and money as identifying the problem is quick and simple and you can move forward on fixing the problem, rather than playing detective. When hiring new employees, ask interview questions and look for previous examples that show the candidate is aware they aren’t perfect, that they have made mistakes, but have taken such experiences as opportunities to grow.
Delegation is not optional.
Starting a business or leading a team requires a great deal of time and energy. Multi-tasking has its limits, and reducing time spent on tasks that aren’t crucial to your direct oversight will lead to an increase in business productivity and an immense decrease in stress for you. It is the most efficient way to run a business or manage a team without spreading yourself too thin, decreasing the chances for oversight and errors that can be detrimental to your and your company’s success.