September 2nd, 2023

As a business coach, I am in a unique position to not only help struggling business owners but also recognize and identify unproductive patterns of behaviors across all industries and business models. This in turn allows me to help others dodge a similar fate. So today I wanted to address the real reason that you are struggling to delegate as a business owner, and help you learn to do it better and with less hesitation.

Understanding Your Why

Why do we struggle to delegate? It’s one thing to say that we struggle with delegation of both small and large tasks, but if we don’t understand why, we will fail to remove those obstacles standing in our way. A few years, ago we ran an experimental group called Acceleration, which was a five-year beta program on how to become better leaders in all aspects of our business. In one of those sessions, we addressed the question that had everyone stumped: Why is it that we struggle with letting go? Why is it so hard?

The answers we heard were to be expected:

  • “People don’t do what they say they do.” 
  • “It’s scary.”
  • “It’s just easier to do it myself.”
  • “I don’t have the time.” 
  • “It takes too long to do a proper handoff.”
  • “They won’t do it as well as I do.”

While there are some bits of truth in all of these answers and some of them could be addressed by learning the mechanical aspects of delegation, the missing piece here is emotion.

Emotional Intelligence

As a business owner, and in part as a business coach, it’s easy to focus more on the business strategy side of things. But when we are talking about leadership, the greatest piece of leadership has to do with emotional intelligence. A study reported in the Harvard Business Review, stated that as you climb the corporate ladder, emotional intelligence becomes a more important part of your performance as a manager or a leader. And by the time you get to the very top of the organization, emotional intelligence was 10 times more valuable, more impactful, and more predictive of results than the technical skills at that level. So it makes sense that delegation is no different in terms of the importance of emotional intelligence.

Reflecting on Your Past Experiences

If you find yourself struggling with delegation, taking a bit of time to reflect on your past experiences may be the key to unlocking your emotional block and allowing yourself to keep working on your delegation skills. When you put your self-reflective hat on, ask yourself, if you were taking responsibility, if you were taking full responsibility for this situation, what could you own about that situation? How could have things turned out differently had you done things differently during the handoff or follow-up? What did I do that contributed to the failure? Could you have followed up faster or with more frequency? Did you give an employee something that they weren’t capable of doing thus setting them up to fail? Did you give them enough of the details of what your needs and desires were for the project? Once you explore those answers and take ownership, it will become much easier to overcome those objections and move forward with a clear path.