Stop being so selfish and start delegating!

What, too harsh? Not what you expected from me?

Here’s the thing. it may be time to get harsh (in the kindest way possible). Because SO MANY women I know struggle to delegate…

Actually, let me rephrase that. SO MANY women I know, are NOT delegating at all!

  • They think it’s faster to just do it themselves
  • They feel ‘bad’ giving away crappy tasks
  • They worry it won’t be done perfectly

I think we need a reframe ladies…

Which is what today’s newsletter is all about. Let's dive in and unpack each of these so I can hopefully convince you to start delegating more, free up more of your time and empower your team to shine.

Maybe you hadn't thought about delegating this way before, but it's true. Delegating more is better:

  • For your company, because you'll be able to focus more on the strategic work that only you can do.
  • For your team, because they'll have an opportunity to grow and show their stuff more often.
  • For yourself, because you won't be so overloaded and overwhelmed.
  • For the people in your life, because you'll be less stressed!

But… it's faster to just do it myself

Well, that depends. For today's task? Yeah, maybe. Long-term? HELL NO!

If you want to be a strategic leader, you need to be thinking long-term. Not just about what's easiest or fastest today.

You NEED that time, so you can carve out deep-work blocks and show up as the strategic leader you want to be. If you're running around doing every little thing, there's just no time and space for the type of thinking you need to be doing.

Period.

Have you heard about the book ‘The ONE Thing' by Gary Keller? Here's the core concept:

What's the ONE Thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

As a leader, you need to thinking about the highest impact actions you can take. I'll give you an example from one of my clients, who I'll call Rachelle.

Rachelle was a VP, Sales who had just hired 2 new Sales Managers and was DEEP in the weeds of busy-ness. Too many direct reports (hence the new hires), trying to figure out the best strategy for growth, running a bunch of experiments… you get it.

We had talked about the concept of The ONE Thing, and one day at the beginning of our session, Rachelle was listing off ALL of the many things on her busy plate, trying to work out how on earth she was going to get it all done and still try to carve out strategic thinking time.

I was pushing her to carve out more strategic thinking time. She was thinking this was all but impossible given her calendar.

She was spending a ton of time with her former direct reports, and a ton of time trying to help get these new managers up to speed. All of this, on top of everything else she had to do and learn as a new VP.

As she was going through the list, one of the things she said was,

“And I still need to create a playbook for my new managers so they know what they should be doing on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. Still haven't started that.”

She started to go through the rest of the list and I stopped her.

“Rachelle, THAT'S YOUR ONE THING. You need to focus on the playbook first.”

You see, she kept putting this task off (she'd mentioned it to me once or twice already) because it didn't feel urgent. But at the same time, she was spending HOURS EVERY DAY with these new managers and their reports, because she hadn't created the playbook yet!

That's what I mean by focusing on the highest impact actions. That's what The ONE Thing means by doing something that will make everything else easier or unnecessary.

So… back to you telling me that it's faster to do it yourself…. ask yourself how this aligns with The ONE Thing framework. Is it still the right thing to do it yourself instead of teaching someone else to do it?

Every time you take the time to teach someone, you potentially take this task off your plate forever! Sounds like a good deal to me.

And if you're not sure whether it's something you should be delegating ask yourself, “Am I the ONLY person on the team who can do this, or the BEST person on the team to be doing this?” If the answer isn't yes to at least one of those (ideally both), delegate.

I feel bad giving these crappy tasks to my team

Are you nodding right now? I get it, because I've had these same thoughts! And this is where you really need to challenge yourself to reframe your thinking.

You're assuming that because you don't enjoy doing a certain task, no one enjoys doing that task.

Do you really think that's true when you stop to think about it? Given how different we all are, how varied our strengths and preferences are… is it likely that everything you hate doing, everyone else also hates?

In so many areas of life, we default to thinking that people must be just like us. They must be thinking what we're thinking. They must like what we like.

It's just not the case.

There are certain things I HATED doing in my corporate life, partly because of my ADHD brain. One of them was expense reports.

I absolutely LOATHED doing my expense reports. I dreaded it. And I would put if off as long as I could without getting in too much trouble.

In fact, I've been known not to expense things because I don't want to fill out the expense report and would rather eat the cost. That's some serious dislike.

Because of this, I was reluctant to pawn this task off on someone else. Seemed like a shitty thing to do. But I also knew that the administrative tasks I was doing were preventing my company from getting their full value out of me as a leader. They took too much of my time that should be spent elsewhere.

Guess what I learned? Maybe you're already 2 steps ahead….

My admin didn't mind doing expense reports AT ALL! She LIKED it!

This floored me. I remember her telling me that she enjoyed taking an hour or 2 out of the afternoon once a month to organize all of my receipts and do my report. She found it relaxing.

Uhhhh…. boom. Mind blown.

And this was the case for many of the other things I didn't love doing or wasn't particularly good at.

Here's another great way to think about this:

The more responsibility you give to your team, the more you allow them to step up and shine in their role.

Think about it. If you hold on to everything, you never really allow the people on your team an opportunity to grow, take more initiative, step up and learn new things…. to show you and everyone else what they can do.

Delegating is not just good for you, it's great for the people on your team as well. Which brings me to the last point,

They can't do it as well as I can!

I hear this a lot… fear of delegating because you'll just have to re-do it, or spend a bunch of time correcting it or it will be an inferior work product that will make you look bad.

Ever had this thought?

Again… it may be time to reframe your way of thinking.

Yeah, you're probably better at doing whatever the task is, because you've been doing it for years! It's time to give someone else a chance to learn.

Often, this is a symptom of another issue. Either 1. You don't trust the people on your team or 2. You're a perfectionist who thinks your way is the only way.

Time to get honest with yourself and ask some tough questions.

Is there a trust issue on your team?

If you really don't trust the people on your team enough to delegate tasks and projects to them, what is that telling you? Do you have the wrong people on your team? Have they been adequately trained and set up to succeed?

If any of these feel like they may be true, it may be worth doing a deeper dive to get to the root of the issue.

Hard truth: it's unlikely this is everyone else's fault. If you can't trust a single person on your team to take control of a project, it may be due to the way you've been leading the team or perhaps not giving them the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Here are a few considerations if you want to start giving your team more autonomy:

  • Create an environment that is psychologically safe: Where your team knows they can admit failures (and share them so others can learn), as well as push back when they disagree with you
  • Set clear expectations around what you want, both with timelines and the work product
  • Create regular check-ins where you can provide feedback and clarity to ensure things are on the right track

Remember, your team can't read your mind. It's up to you to communicate clearly.

Or, is it you? Are you a perfectionist?

Often when we can't let go of control, there's a 4 letter word to blame: FEAR. And if you're a perfectionist, this is exactly the emotion that is typically underneath your desire for everything to be perfect:

  • Fear that you're inadequate (maybe as a leader)
  • Fear of not achieving
  • Fear of failure

Because of this fear, you may be highly critical of others and have unrealistically high standards, that no one can meet (probably not even you).

This is a bigger one to tackle, and the first step is simply self-awareness. If you can recognize this in yourself, you can begin to shift this behaviour. First, by focusing on shifting your own attitude towards yourself and what makes you worthy, and then by extending that empathy to others.

Often when we're stuck in this loop, it's impossible to let the tiniest mistake go. Maybe someone sends you report and there are a few sentences you would have worded differently. Or maybe you would have taken a different approach all together.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Does this thing actually need to be done perfectly? As in, exactly how I would do it?
  • What would happen if I let this go and remain the way it is, without making any changes?
  • How will my team member feel if I decide to pick apart this sentence instead of just saying, “Looks great”?

I have to admit, this was something I struggled with early on in leadership. Someone would send me an email to look over and I would instantly start re-writing it. This created 2 problems:

  1. The people on my team didn't feel confident to take more initiative, because they were constantly getting the message that they weren't ready.
  2. Some of my team members stopped putting effort into the work they sent me, because they knew I would re-write it all anyways.

Neither of these are what you want! When I asked myself what the consequence would be if I didn't change that one sentence, the truth was… nothing. A customer may receive an imperfect email. From a human. That was still factually correct and pretty good. Big whoop.

After years, I recognized that much of this was linked to my inner hyper-achiever, who often told me that I was only valuable and worthy when I was achieving. Because of this, I always wanted everything to be done perfectly and was constantly striving for more success.

I'm here to tell you that you're already worthy. That if some internal document has a typo, you're not a failure. And it's okay to let go a little.

One of the things I always weigh now is: What is the optimal way to do something vs. the best way for my mental health?

And I always choose my mental health.

Here's an example of deliberately not doing something the ‘best way' from my own life:

Scheduling content: Using a tool to schedule content will reduce my reach on social media. The optimal way to post content would be to post it live on LinkedIn every day.

Mental health: I have 3 kids to manage and would prefer to prioritize exercise and meditation vs. posting content in the morning. Posting using a tool is better than not posting at all.

See what I mean? And here's a little secret: I've been doing this the ‘non-optimal' way since the beginning and it's FINE.

So I hope I've convinced you non-delegators to take a baby step in the direction of delegating more. Choose 1 task or 1 project. Set very clear expectations. Schedule check-ins. Provide feedback.

And maybe even choose to spend 10 minutes of your newly earned free time on some self-care just for you. What a radical idea.

Until next time friends… ✌️💜

Katy