Leadership Perspectives

The downside of failing to delegate

Overwhelmed Office WorkerWe are certain that leaders – at least on an intellectual level – understand the benefits of effective delegation.  Yet too many delegate too little.  Would we delegate more if we truly understood the impact of NOT delegating?  Perhaps.

Here’s just a few of the consequences that arise out of a failure to delegate:

  • You, the leader, have less time to lead or do tasks that specifically require the your expertise.
  • You become increasingly overloaded while others are under-utilized or bored.
  • While you are running yourself ragged trying to it all, others in the organization are failing to grow or develop in the way that they would if you delegated.
  • Your employees may feel that they are not trusted or respected.  (In my last post I talked about an employee who believed I was unhappy with his work because I failed to delegate a project to him.)
  • Work may not get done as efficiently or timely.  Let’s face it; you can’t do it all and do it all on time.
  • Staff talents may go undiscovered.  If people don’t get to try things, they don’t get to find out what they really enjoy and what they are really good at.  If you don’t delegate, you don’t get to discover people’s strengths and hidden talents lie dormant.
  • Organization fails to reap the benefits of fresh perspectives.  There is a reason for the popularity of the saying “Two heads are better than one.”  To be a great leader, you don’t have to know it all, you just have to know how to tap into the knowledge and abilities or others.

In a leadership class that I taught, a participant shared her story of sending someone to procure necessary job site supplies only to have them return with the wrong item.  The leader hadn’t been specific in her directions because in her mind there was only one product to do the job (the one she had always bought).  She laughed as she told us of her initial vexation and lapse into “I should have done it myself” territory because she later found that the product that the staffer had purchased (the only one he ever bought) actually worked better!  She realized that had she not delegated, she never would have made the discovery.

When we fail to delegate, we do ourselves, our organizations, and our people a disservice.

Next time in Leadership Perspectives, we’ll talk about how to delegate effectively.

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