Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Hidden Danger of Not Delegating

Successful leaders aren’t afraid to admit that someone else can do their job. It may sound counter-intuitive, except, to be able to grow and take on new responsibilities, you have to be able to shed your current tasks and re-invent your job description. You have to make yourself obsolete by growing and delegating.

We all know how good it feels to be the go-to person for a specific set of responsibilities. However, if you’re still
overseeing the same issues year after year, your career growth may not have advanced as much as it could have. Worst of all, you risk the company outgrowing you.

As a company grows, it needs people to develop new skills and competencies to meet its changing demands. Your position will be less relevant if you cannot accommodate these changes and offload some of your old jobs onto someone below you.

CEOs, managers, and other leaders sometimes try and hold onto to what they already do well. In some cases, they may be afraid to delegate some critical tasks to someone below them because they lack confidence in their subordinates. Other times, they cling to their specific roles in order to prevent the company from out growing them. While the latter may seem like a good idea for job security, it’s a poor long-term solution. When a company leader or manager refuses to adapt, it can stifle the enterprises growth.

I advised a company where the CFO spent hours parsing through a thick report of cell phone bills. This made him a good auditor and gave him what seemed to be an important responsibility.  At the same time, it meant that he wasn’t functioning as a CFO.  And he wasn’t able to grow because he was doing the job of an accountant. Unfortunately, the company was essentially operating without CFO.

I can understand why some may hesitate to give away certain responsibilities. The important thing to remember, however, is that the benefits out weigh the discomfort. For example, a general manager I advised was having trouble delegating his financial reporting duties. Nevertheless, once he handed the duties over to his direct report, she loved it. She felt valued and trusted. More importantly, it freed up the general manager’s time and allowed him to leverage other parts of the corporation to the benefit of his division.

If you choose wisely and strategically, delegation can bring out the strengths and talents of people below you. You have to assign initiatives based on a good understanding of your employees’ competencies. In addition, because of delegation, leaders, managers, and CEOs will often have an opportunity to coach their subordinates. As you develop your employees and pull them up, you have to be sure you not only empower them with the right vision, you also have to be there to guide them because they may stumble in the beginning.

While this process may require a little more time initially, the benefit of developing new skills and competencies will make you and your organization more competitive.  The catch is that you will have to move outside of your comfort zone. And you must remember that, as with any business, you have to accept some level of risk to move forward. If you can’t find ways of making yourself obsolete, then you really may become obsolete with outdated skills and competencies.

What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to write me about a specific topic, let me know.

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