The Entrepreneur's Dilemma: Relinquishing Control Through Delegation
Tell me, who is your favorite corporate leader of our times? Tim Cook? Sheryl Sandberg? Reed Hastings? Mary Barra? Sara Blakely? Richard Branson? Who is someone in business leadership you admire and learn from?
Imagine this influential person's day-to-day activities. In your visual, do you see them preparing payroll, shipping packages, and troubleshooting minor problems within the company? It's probably not an image you can conjure up—because that's not what they do. If they wasted time working so far below their skill level, they wouldn't be where they are today.
So, why are you still doing tasks that don't require your skill level? Solid and successful leaders delegate. If delegation creates a dilemma for you, working through your state of mind is a good idea.
Entrepreneurs are often known for their vision, drive, and hands-on approach. However, this same passion can lead to a reluctance to delegate. Do you buy into the common misconception that no one can handle select parts of your business as well as you can? A protective nature toward your business is a natural instinct but can also be limiting.
Why is delegation so critical to success?
I've worked with entrepreneurs eager to race to the ever-elusive finish line. Yet, aside from a lack of capital, one of the top reasons small businesses fail is pre-mature growth. Investing your resources into business expansion too soon can take your company down in months, but the danger of failure multiplies if you're unwilling to relinquish control over certain aspects of your day-to-day operations.
Delegation exponentially expands your capacity. When you entrust tasks to competent team members, you're no longer bound by the limitations of your own time and expertise. You can channel your energy toward strategic initiatives and high-level decision-making by releasing the grip on routine tasks. This is where true business transformation happens.
Can delegation backfire or fail?
Your delegation efforts can (and probably will) fail at times. If you hire the right people, equip them with clear and documented instructions, and provide the right resources, it is less likely that your employees will fail at their assignments. I often hear complaints that there isn't time to document procedures and policies and onboard and train an employee or two. This claim is the worst excuse I've ever heard! An overwhelmed and stressed-out business owner does not work efficiently, so it only feels like time is short. Bite the bullet and make time; otherwise, you'll look back five years from now, wondering why you’re in the same position, not having achieved your goals and struggling financially.
Enough false excuses. Let's look at the reality behind delegation struggles and some other insights.
The fear of letting go.
Fear is the main contributor behind the reluctance to delegate lies: the fear of losing control, others making mistakes, upsetting a client, or damaging the business in another way. Business owners often fear that others won't take them and their business seriously if they do not appear to be busy and overwhelmed. Stress does not earn anyone a badge of honor; it’s debilitating.
It's essential to recognize that delegation isn't about relinquishing all your control; it's about leveraging the strengths and talents of others to achieve collective success.
When my clients follow the plan to set their team up for success, they often find that projects turn out even better than when doing those projects and tasks themselves. Just because someone has different ideas or a unique approach doesn't mean their methods are not as good as yours. Anticipate success with new and more efficient ways of doing things.
Sometimes, entrepreneurs react emotionally to letting go of some of their duties, as though letting go means they are no longer an integral part of the company's success. Another concern is that they will be seen as someone other than the person in charge by their clients, therefore losing their importance or authority. This concern may be a subconscious fear, which is most damaging. I work with my clients to uncover the buried beliefs that keep them stuck. Then, and only then, does the company grow.
If you resist delegation to an extreme, find a coach or therapist who can help you uncover the truth behind your reluctance.
The boomerang effect.
Entrepreneurs, particularly in the early stages, find themselves wearing multiple hats. It's a commendable feat but can lead to burnout and a lack of focus on strategic growth. Delegation allows you to free up your time for high-impact activities only you can do. But here's the problem: If you boomerang back to control the details in operations, you can't focus on strategic growth and partnerships and will only be able to afford your employees for a short time. Hands-off delegation is critical to your culture and your future.
Building a culture of trust.
Once an employee is trained to perform their assigned tasks, it's imperative that you allow them to work independently. Independence does not mean you throw them into the deep end and hope they can swim; you're still available as a mentor/teacher. You will confuse and discourage your team if you don't allow them to make mistakes, demonstrate their abilities, and collaborate. Your team will thrive in a culture of trust, not one of backlash and shame.
Delegating fosters a culture of trust within your team. It empowers your employees, showing them that you value their skills and judgment. This trust forms the foundation of a high-performing and engaged team.
If you play the role of a helicopter parent, your employees will grow to doubt themselves and feel frustrated, even angry, with you. If you have a manager, allow them to manage. If you have a client service rep, let them build relationships and handle customer issues. Remember, at this point, you are a mentor, not a doer. If you want to grow your business and increase revenue, resist the urge to step in and do it yourself.
Building a growth mindset through delegation.
A reluctance to delegate indicates a fixed mindset, which limits the capacity for growth and positivity. Entrepreneurs with a fixed mindset stay stuck in a familiar pain or challenge to avoid the fears they associate with growth.
The preference of living in a state of stress and being overwhelmed, rather than fully utilizing an employee or a team, is an example of the pain and consequences of a fixed mindset. Entrepreneurs who won't delegate are stuck, inundated, and limited in their financial and personal growth capacity.
There is transformative growth and power in delegation for you and your team.
Balancing delegation with quality control.
It's important to note that effective delegation requires clear communication, defined expectations, and a system of checks and balances. Striking this balance ensures that tasks are executed to meet your standards. Don't set your employees up to fail; set them up for success, and they will thrive and stick around far longer than a stifled employee would.
Embracing change and growth.
Remember, growth often requires stepping out of your comfort zone. Embracing delegation is one massive leap toward your dream of a successful and profitable business. Start small, build mutual trust, and enjoy the freedom to grow personally and professionally.