Any leader can struggle with delegation. It is one of those things that we know we should do, but rarely do we do well. This struggle is often intensified with young leaders who are just realizing what it really means to lead those who lead.
Carol Walker wrote an article in the Harvard Business Review titled, “Saving Your Rookie Managers from Themselves.” Many of her thoughts are applicable to young leaders who struggle with delegation. By combing a few of her thoughts with my own, let’s look at four reasons why young leaders struggle with delegation:
1. Fear of losing prominence
Because of their age, young leaders typically have not held their leadership role for any significant period of time. This lack of tenure can lead to a sense of insecurity. And while this can push the young leader to work hard at their new role, it can also cause the young leader to personally oversee numerous projects in hope of being perceived as invaluable. But they are undermining themselves. This strategy for security will only limit their ability to lead.
2. Fear of relinquishing control
Trusting in your own ability is easy. But this is not leadership. Leadership requires trusting in another’s ability. Up until this point, many young leaders only needed to rely on their own ability to achieve goals. But now they must rely on another’s ability. This requires relinquishing some level of control, a scary thought for many young leaders.
3. Lack of patience
“I can get it done more quickly if I just do it myself.” We all have thought this. And it may be true, at least for that one task. But this mentality leads to a piling up of tasks. Eventually, you find yourself no longer leading, but coming to work every day to complete a to-do list.
4. Fear of overburdening their team members
Most young leaders want their team members to be happy. They want them to enjoy their jobs. So, out the fear of overburdening the team, they hold onto tasks that should be delegated out. And now, it is young leader who feels overburdened and unhappy.
So what do young leaders need to do? How do they learn to delegate? Here are three suggestions:
Gain a better understanding of the role
Technical skills are not unimportant. However, young leaders who struggle with delegation should focus more on understanding the conceptual and motivational aspects of their role. Leading people who lead people requires a different mindset and skillset than more task-oriented roles.
Learn the strengths of individual team members
Understanding the strengths of team members will assist the young leader in two ways. First, it can build confidence in the team members’ ability to carry out assignments. Second, it will help the young leader determine which assignments should be delegated to specific team members. And, hopefully, they will learn that there are those on their team who can carry out certain assignments better than they would be able to.
Try to delegate a few small tasks
Young leaders can select smaller, more easily accomplished tasks to delegate to their strongest team members. This allows the young leader to start developing a sense of comfort towards delegation. And as they do, they will realize that they can now lead better, accomplish more as a team, and give their team a greater sense of involvement in the life of the organization.
What about you? Why do you think young leaders struggle with delegation? What tips do you have to help them overcome these? Please place your comments in the section below.