According to a statistic from the London Business School, only 30% of managers believe they can delegate well, and just a third of them are considered effective delegators by their team. How effective are you at delegating? If your response is that you need to do everything yourself or that you feel compelled to maintain control when seeking support from others, have you considered how counterproductive this is to the effectiveness of your team and organisation, let alone to your own wellbeing? This article reveals why holding on to control and not asking for support prevents others from contributing to you and thriving in your business. I also share some practical steps to overcome it.
Imagine this: it’s late at night. You’re still in the office and your partner calls you and asks when you will be home. You feel bad because you don’t want to disappoint them. But on the other hand, you desperately want to finish the task you are working on, be it a presentation, report or proposal at a critical stage of a project, etc. Hanging up the phone, a voice inside your head reminds you that you could have delegated the task or asked for support. But as always, you had to do it yourself, and you had your reasons for it!
Scenarios like this are not uncommon. Perhaps you resonate. Are there countless times when, deep down, you know you would have been better off delegating or at least asking for support when working on a project or task?
The question is, why are so many team leaders and managers afraid to delegate or seek assistance? Many of the leaders and managers I coach struggle when it comes to seeking contribution from others. They come up with various reasons, including, quote:
“I can do it much better.”
“It will take too long to educate them on what I want.”
“If I want it done right, I have to do it myself!”
“They lack the right skills for the job.”
“My way is the best way”
“I have to control them, otherwise they can’t work it out themselves.”
However, in the next breath, they invariably tell me they can’t control everything and ask how they can be more effective.
The consequences of holding on to control while leading a team, a business or organisation are significant. For the leader, the outcome is long nights, overwhelm and the risk of burnout. And team members who won’t be able to contribute may feel both left out and micromanaged as a result. Morale is low, and employees are more likely to resign.
Common recommendations suggest that for a leader or manager to be successful, they should maintain a level of control, hustle, dominate the market, and, “Don’t let anyone tell you how to run your team or business”. Then, if things are still not working effectively, they are offered advice like, “Fake it till you make it!” By now you may have picked up that suggestions like these are simply not going to help you breakthrough. In fact, they will likely have the opposite effect.
Let me share with you some more effective ways to lead your team and business, including practical steps to overcome an unhealthy need to maintain control so you can scale your impact and reach the next level in effectiveness.
Step 1: Being open to contribution and letting go of control
Many people assume that contribution is a one-way street; that it is about contributing to and being of service to others. But in reality, that is only half the story. Contribution is equally about being available for others to contribute to you. According to Ashkan Tashvir, the author of BEING, contribution is
“when you are available to support and compelled to be of service to others to achieve what they are committed to and are also willingly available for others to support and serve you. It is an outward manifestation and expression of your care for others and humanity in general. BEING, Ashkan Tashvir: Page 419
Are you allowing others in your team and company to contribute to you? Are you open to contribution or are you focused on doing it all yourself and having everything done your way. Before I transitioned into coaching, I remember a time when I was so focused on my role and how things had to occur, that I lost sight of how ineffective my need to do it all or do it my way was. For example, whenever a team member failed to adhere to my standards when editing documents, I would spend many late nights fixing up their mistakes to ensure a quality document was submitted to the client. What was missing was clarity around how the team could have contributed to the project and myself as a leader. Rather than expecting the team to know the standards I expected, I should have established clear systems and processes to facilitate their contribution and stop me from having to micromanage them.
Step 2: Being available for and creating partnership
There is more to partnership than just joining forces with another human being. As a way of being, partnership encompasses collaboration and mutual empowerment in pursuit of a common goal and to deliver a better outcome than you could achieve on your own. In BEING, Ashkan defines partnership as
“living from the viewpoint of being in union with other human beings, an entity, person, team or organisation in the pursuit and fulfilment of a common purpose”. BEING, Ashkan Tashvir: Page 432
Referring back to my example, was it only up to me to achieve a quality customer submission? Or was it about a common purpose, solving our client’s problem by accessing all available resources in the team? Once I started being in partnership with my team, things began to flow seamlessly. We set calendar appointments to review project progress and partnered in all aspects of the project. We shared the challenges we were facing regarding our individual responsibilities and all barriers between myself and my team members were removed. As a result, we started achieving high quality client submissions every time, without the need for double-handling, micromanagement or working extended hours. When you remove all barriers and start being in partnership with others, magic happens and teams truly collaborate.
4 steps to scale your impact and achieve the next level in effectiveness
Identify the reason you think you are the only person fit for the task.
Observe the feelings, thoughts and dialogue that stop you asking your team, colleagues or others for support.
Ask yourself, “What would be possible if I ask for support or delegate it?”
Ask yourself, “What would it look like if I actively choose partnership?”
When we give ourselves permission to relinquish control, are genuinely open to the contribution and support of others as well as build true partnerships, we not only achieve our goals, we create teams that will be able to solve bigger problems than we ever could alone. In the words of Ratan Tata: “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together”. If you would like to know how you can become more effective and better at delegating, send me a message here.