It’s a simple fact: good leaders delegate.
Eli Broad, an American businessman and the builder of two Fortune 500 companies, says this about delegation: “The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels”.
I believe that he is absolutely right. It becomes a huge problem when leaders don’t delegate.
Think about the last time you tried to do everything yourself. Maybe it was at home – you were trying to cook, clean, do the laundry, and make dinner all before your spouse got home from a long business trip. Or maybe it was at the office – you were in charge of too many projects and juggling too many balls.
Delegation keeps us from burning out, and it’s essential to a well-run, successful business.
Why do leaders not delegate?
Developing a “delegation muscle” is crucial to your success as a leader manager. So, why do leader/managers have trouble delegating?
In my experience, some won’t delegate simply because they are afraid that they will lose control. They like to hold on tight to the reins and have control over what is happening. Others delegate, but then they worry about how much “damage control” they will have to do if a mistake is made.
How to delegate the right way:
Any person can delegate safely if he uses the technique of the “loose rein.”
With this concept, the manager can delegate fully, but also keeps a safety line in his hands. The key to the “loose rein” technique is knowledge. A manager’s knowledge of what should be happening and what is happening in any area of his responsibility gives the manager a sense of safety.
If an employee is heading the wrong way, the manager can quickly pull back on the safety line and help steer that person in the right direction. The safety line is the loose rein – and it’s the most effective, powerful way to delegate successfully.
Usually, a person uses reins to guide a horse. Using the reins, they can guide a horse right and left, or have the horse stop or go. After a while, the rider and the horse become accustomed to one another and begin to work as a team. As soon as the rider feels like his horse isn’t going to dump him into a ditch, he can let the reins hang loosely. But the reins, whether loose or tight, must remain in the driver’s hands.
It’s the same way with your employees.
Once you get to know your employees, you can give a little more “wiggle room” on the reigns. But you should never let go completely.
No reigns, tight reigns, or loose reigns?
Just like with horse riders, you can delegate with no reins, with tight reins, or with loose reins.
If you delegate without reins, your team will be confused and may not know which direction to head.
If you delegate with tight reins, you become tired. You wear yourself and your employees out, just as the driver of the wagon tires himself and his horse if he constantly jerks and pulls on the reins.
If you delegate with loose reins, you bring freedom to both yourself and your team. This freedom comes because you let go of worry, uncertainty, and the possibility of disaster. Delegating with loose reins is the best of both worlds – maintaining control but also not having to do everything yourself.
As a leader/manager, you must delegate. There really is no better option. You physically cannot do all the work yourself and, more importantly, you need to focus on bigger things.
So, the question is not will you delegate?
Rather, the question is how tight will you hold the reins?
Do you delegate within your organization or business? How has it gone in the past? Have you held loose reigns? Let me know in the comments!