Clip Art of a Conference MeetingIn my experience, the most highly effective managers, chief executives and business owners have two things in common: a clean desk and a capable team.

Yet in reality, very few executives and business owners are effective delegators.  Even when they have a great team behind them, they still tend to take on too many responsibilities.

The purpose of this article is to provide business leaders with some helpful information about the necessity of building strong teams, and to help you identify where you may be blocked in your ability to delegate effectively.

Successful delegation requires that you:

  1. Select your team carefully.
  2. Train them well.
  3. Trust them.

Select your team carefully.  Delegating responsibility means giving up a little… to gain a lot.  Many business owners and executives struggle with delegating tasks to other capable individuals because they feel in doing so they are relinquishing control.  You’ll always have control because you control the hiring process.  Surround yourself with people who inspire you and challenge you but who are capable of great things. The most effective leaders understand there is no threat in hiring the best.

Train them well.  Time is the most valuable commodity for any business leader, and the time it takes to effectively train another person to take on an executive level task may seem unrealistic.  As a leader, you must take a long range view of this and realize investing time now in preparing your organization to succeed will maximize your overall effectiveness and improve your long term results.

Remember, you are only as strong as your weakest team member.  If you are not able to rely upon another individual, either because they have consistently under-performed  or because you don’t feel they can handle greater responsibility, it’s time to evaluate and make a change.  If that person failed because they did not have proper knowledge, skill, training or resources, it’s time to look at your own responsibility in properly selecting and training your team.

Trust them.  You hired the right people and you trained them well, and now you’ve got to trust them. We’ve all heard the stories of people who failed to rise to the task they were called to do, and the business owners or executives who suffered the consequences of those decisions. This is one reason why so many business leaders avoid or fail to delegate important tasks.  It’s easy to understand why this may cause you to hesitate; however, highly effective organizations run on a high level of trust and autonomy.  They perform well as a result of effective delegation, which is why business leaders MUST be willing to delegate and entrust a certain level of responsibility to other capable individuals.

If you’re not willing to delegate, you’ll never have enough time and energy to focus on essential executive level responsibilities such as planning, strategy, leadership, and thinking about your business on a daily basis.

Are you delegating like a true leader?  

Ask yourself the following questions to determine your level of effectiveness as a leader who delegates and shares the responsibility for success:

  1. Permission Required? Do you have a constant stream of people coming to you for your approval, every step of the way?  Are people always asking you when, what or how much?  If so, you probably need to identify some capable leaders, train them well, delegate tasks, and get out of their way.
  2. Training Needed?  If you have a constant stream of people posing “how?” or “why?” questions, you have not done a good job of training them to function effectively and independently.  Identify the areas where more training is needed, provide it, and then step out of the way and allow them to do what you have trained them to do.
  3. Where are you spending the majority of your time? How often do you find yourself performing tasks that do not contribute to the executive decision-making of your business?  If you are spending more than a little time on things other than planning, strategizing, budgeting, product development, negotiating, legal issues, recruiting, or organizational development, you are probably not taking full advantage of your opportunity to get the support you need by delegating non-executive tasks.
  4. Where do you and your organization fall on the “happy” scale?   If you or others in your business organization feel frustrated or overwhelmed, it’s time to look at how each position could be streamlined for greater effectiveness.  Training and delegation is a good place to start.

Learning to delegate can be challenging, particularly for business leaders who have always tended to wear all the hats. The benefits of effective delegation are profound, and if you’re not sure how to get started, it may be a good time to talk with your business coach.

Partnering for your success,