How Do You Know When You Should Be Delegating?

Shannon Waller
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The Delegation Formula

Recently, I had an insight that led to creating a delegation formula that’s not so much about how to delegate but when to delegate.

What happens when there’s something you want to have happen—professionally or personally—but then you realize you don’t have the capability to get it done?

My rule or formula is, when there’s something important you want to accomplish but you don’t have the skill, time, or mental energy for it, that equals delegation.

The costs of not delegating when you should.

What happens when there’s something you need to get done, and you want to get it done, but you’re not the right person to do it—and you don’t delegate it?

Let me paint a picture of that. You try to do it yourself, and because you don’t have the mental energy for it, it’s exhausting. You really don’t have the time, so you’re rushing to fit it in, which compromises everything else. It creates pressure so you’re staying up late to work on it, compromising your sleep, which compromises your creativity.

You think, “I have to learn how to do this!” I like to learn new things too, but often, from a time or investment perspective, the payoff just isn’t there. Ask yourself, “What is the payoff? Is it worth my time and energy?”

Loosening the Delegation Death Grip.

It’s time to move past the Rugged Individualist mindset of doing everything yourself. When you look around you, you’ll realize just how many talented people there are out there who would love to support and leverage you.

It’s time to let go of what I call the “Delegation Death Grip” on things you should no longer be involved in. There are talented people around you who want to help, so maybe it’s time to let go and give them a chance to grow. I promise, the results will amaze you.

The power of The Delegation Formula.

Why do I want you to put this formula in place? I don’t want you to fail. I like how Strategic Coach founder and lead coach Dan Sullivan talks about this. He says, “As an entrepreneur, you design the game. Design it so you can win.”

So many of us take on other people’s rules or ideas about how we should do things. “Should” is a word that suggests you’re doing something that you’re not committed to, and that is a road to failure in almost any situation.

At Strategic Coach, we say that an obligation without a commitment equals a “mess.” We create messes when we take on tasks we think we should do but for which we have little or no time, skill, or mental energy. Watch out for “should”; instead, have the courage to ask, “What actually works for me?”

Stop trying to do it all yourself and spend more time doing what you really need to do to grow your business. Delegate! Download our Strategic Coach Approach to Effective Delegation, a quick how-to guide with 5 simple steps to delegating effectively, and get started now!

The smartest investment.

When we only hold ourselves accountable to doing those things we love to do and are best and most skilled at, and when we make an investment in these skills, we create an amazing “multiplier” effect.

Trying to be someone you’re not doesn’t do anyone any good. Be who you are! Oh, and delegate the rest. It could be something as simple as organizing your office or as complex as taking over an area of the business.

Believe me when I say that there is someone out there who loves doing what you don’t and doesn’t see it as a burden. In fact, they see it as an opportunity for growth!

Three prerequisites to delegation.

  1. Have a certain degree of self-awareness. At Strategic Coach, we count on Kolbe, CliftonStrengths, and other profiles to give us a common language to our strengths and tell us where we’re going to get the biggest return.

    I now know that I don’t have a lot of mental energy for specifics, details, or planning but that I have a great deal of energy for ideas, presentations, and coaching. Any investment in the former will make me merely adequate; investing in the latter, though, continually strengthens my ability to achieve exponential results.

  2. Be resourceful. There are people out there who have thought about and care passionately about solving the problems you have. Go out and find them. Remember, too, that there are a lot of terrific online resources.

    A big clue for a delegation is something you’ve been procrastinating on. What have you written down over and over on your to-do list at work or at home, usually accompanied by nagging guilt?

  3. Be honest with yourself. Be truthful about whether you will do an activity. There is a great distinction I learned about the words “can,” “want,” and “will.” “Can” is a statement of capability, but says nothing about whether you will actually do it. “Want” is a statement of desire but there’s no commitment, possibly no motivation.

    It’s the word “will” that I want you to listen for in yourself and other people. The moment you say, “I will do this,” you’re committing yourself. You will actually do it, and there’s a cost if you don’t, because your word is at stake.

BONUS skill: Have a sense of humor. Know that you and those around you don’t have to be perfect at everything. The ability to laugh at yourself will always make delegation easier.

Fine-tune your listening skills.

Listen for “will” in terms of both yourself and others. When you want something done and you’re now honestly admitting that you likely will not get the job done, get resourceful and figure out who is right for the job. Then delegate, delegate, delegate.

The items on your to-do list that you’ve been procrastinating on will become a thing of the past—finished, checked off, done, but not by you. Freed up to do what you’re best at, you’ll feel incredibly productive and highly capable and, as a result, much more confident.

It all comes down to understanding when you, personally, need to delegate.

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