The Dastardly Dread of Delegating


Twice this week I’ve had two conversations about delegation. Once with someone about to step up into a new leadership role, and the other with someone who’s firmly entrenched in leadership, but finds it a struggle just the same.

There are some topics, that no matter what our experience, continue to challenge us. Delegating, presentations, dealing with difficult people or tough situations, speaking up and being visible – these pose problems for even the most time-served leaders.

So What’s The Problem With Delegating?

This varies.

For a relatively new leader, it can be the fear of making a request that may be ignored (particularly if you’re now leading peers)  What will they think of me?  Who do I think I am, telling others to do things? How do I actually do it?

For both new and established leaders, there may be a whole host of other issues…

 What if it doesn’t get done? How do I know it’s being done? What if it doesn’t get done the way I want it to? It’s quicker to do it myself. Those are the parts of the job I really enjoy, why should I get rid of them?  This is the way I want it done. It takes so much time training someone else. What if someone else does it better than me? 

One of the biggest obstacles around delegating is the mindset we may have about it, and the what ifs…

Delegating Is A Crucial Skill You Need Feel At Ease With.

Here are some answers to the most commonly-asked question I hear.

1. Those are the parts of the job I really enjoy, why should I get rid of them? Understand the nature of your role – particularly if you’re new to it. New responsibilities mean a new to-do list and your priorities will shift. You need to understand this – and help your team to understand it to by sharing what you’re in post to achieve with their help.

2. Isn’t it quicker to do it myself? No is the simple answer to that! Time spent coaching your team is time well spent and will free you up in the longer term  to tackle the demands of your new role. You’ll soon get bogged down with jobs that could –  and should –  be done by others, meaning you’ll lose your effectiveness.

3. What will they think of me?  Who do I think I am, telling others to do things?  Delegating allows other team members to develop themselves and gain valuable experience. In that sense, delegation is a gift. You’re helping to grow the leaders of the future, whether their future is in your organisation or not. Your team will be looking to you for strong leadership – now is your time to demonstrate that. Work on developing your own leadership skills, including your personal vision and values.

4. What do I say to someone who is too inexperienced to lead the task, but who is very keen? In this case, maybe choose another team member who has more experience to lead the project, but who can involve the more junior team member. This gives valuable leading experience to the more senior person, and great operational experience to the less experienced member of the team.

5. How do I know it’s being done?  Match the right person to the right task. Understand your team’s skills and their own development needs and aspirations, as well as understanding what the task involves. Determine the level of support your team member might need and plan accordingly. Make sure you’re available for support, guidance and encouragement but encourage them to be a problem solver by taking a coaching approach rather than a directive one. Build check-in milestones to keep an eye on progress.

6. My team is so busy. So are you. And you’ll be even busier if you don’t delegate. Encourage everyone to look at how they’re spending their time and how effective that really is. Look at current processes and practices – what could be changed? Just because things have always been done that way in the past, doesn’t mean they need to continue that way in the future. Where could you innovate as a team? Take some time to understand the emotional temperature of the team. How motivated and enthusiastic are they and what might you need to do to re-ignite their passion for what they do?

If you need some help to establish yourself as a leader, and lead with confidence, then 5 Steps To Developing Your Leadership Presence can give you some practical ways to develop the ‘x-factor’ that the most effective leaders possess. Leadership presence helps you to build great relationships, be listened to and get things done.

You simply can’t lead without it.



I’m Susan Ritchie and I help new and emerging female leaders to develop their leadership presence so they create the right impact, raise their profile, lead with confidence and become more influential. You can download 5 Steps To Developing Your Leadership Presence to help you get your next leadership role – and excel at it!