Thoughts on Delegation

A doer that does is not a leader that leads

When I was a Junior in high school I got my first job drying cars after getting detailed. It was not by any means glamorous but hey, you have to start somewhere. One day a car pulled in and I was the only one to greet the customer. He asked me to pull his car in and immediately I saw a problem. His car was a stick shift. At that moment I should have exited the car and called someone else to pull it in but for some reason I didn’t. I decided today would be the day I learned to drive a stick. I promptly put it in first and eased off the clutch like I had been told. It was almost euphoric until I stalled the engine and sat there like an idiot. By that time my boss came out and told me to learn to drive a stick shift with my own car… not customers… and pulled it in himself. I often wonder who was more in the wrong, me for trying to learn on a customers car, or my boss for not seeing it as an opportunity to teach me and make me a more valuable employee.

It is interesting how in life we believe that we can, and should, be the only ones to put in the work. We long to be the one who can do it and often times that want leads us to believe we are the only ones who can do it. Sometimes it is pride that compels us to soldier on and take that bulk of work. Sometimes it is the sense of control because we think we are the only ones that can get it right the first time.

As a leader, you probably worked your way up. Along the way you found what worked best for you and enjoy doing it “your way”. Now that you are in a position of leadership, you might even find that showing others how you do it is extremely satisfying. Remember that as a leader your job is not to pull the strings to make the puppets move like you want and do it your way, it is to create followers that think for themselves and do things you couldn’t dream of doing. This can only be done when you delegate.

Delegation requires trust. Trust is earned. Therefor delegation is earned. It is not bad to hold back until someone is ready for a task, it is bad to assume they have to be as ready as you are. Start by delegating part of a task. Allow followers to earn trust, then delegate more… and more… and more. Remember a doer that does is not a leader that leads.