Managers manage. Leaders lead. Contrary to popular belief, managers are not necessarily leaders and vice versa.
To be a great leader, you need to make the mental leap from simply doing to actually leading. While rolling up your sleeves and pitching in on projects is often necessary, it’s important to make the distinction between collaboration and steamrolling. Managers instruct and take over when things aren’t executed the way they envision. Great leaders, on the other hand, delegate.
Catch a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to carry out your wishes with fidelity, and you’ll all be eating for a lifetime. While you may have the ability to shoulder the weight of your company’s duties on your own, consider how much more you could be accomplishing by delegating some of the work. Free up your valuable time so you can work on more important tasks.
Don’t misunderstand: delegation does not require a laissez-faire attitude about your work or your employees. On the contrary, the delegating leadership style requires managers to look more holistically at their role in the organization and analyze the talents and abilities of others. This leadership style can increase satisfaction in the workplace, encourages staff to be self-motivated, and creates a culture of learning and resilience.
Learning to Delegate
Delegation is an art, not a science, and there is no one path to adopting this leadership style successfully. To begin, take some time to reflect on the role work plays in your life, and vice versa. If you needed to take a week off work unexpectedly, would the productivity in your office lurch to a halt? Take a look at your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, and be honest about why you shoulder them alone. This period of quiet reflection can be incredibly valuable to anyone hoping to reshape their leadership style.Next, take time to meet with employees and discuss a shift in responsibilities. Simply handing down items from your to-do list onto theirs is a surefire way to breed resentment. Instead, have an honest conversation about short and long-term goals for yourself, the employee, and the overall organization. While asking a secretary to take over weekly payroll might initially seem like you are unburdening a chore, explaining the stake they have in the overall goal of the task will create greater buy-in.
Deciding Which Tasks to Delegate
Your day is likely filled with a million duties, big and small. In some cases, you took on these tasks naturally without giving them a second thought. Others were likely adopted out of necessity; if you can’t trust someone else to take care of it, it’s best just to do it yourself, right?
This line of thinking is how managers everywhere get in over their heads. Take a step back and consider what your role in your organization actually means. Chances are you didn’t start a company to maintain your personal calendar. Odds are that you weren’t recruited to man the phones. Instead, channel your skill set and experience into delegation.
Appointment making and other administrative duties can be entrusted to colleagues or outsourced to a live receptionist service. Arranging for travel, hotel, and restaurant reservations can also a be a huge drain on your time; why not have someone else shoulder these tasks? Once you begin honestly looking at the duties on your plate, you’ll marvel at all you could have been delegating over the years.
Caveats To Delegating Work
There’s no doubt about it: the art of delegating can make your life unquestionably simpler. Of course, anyone hoping to take the plunge and begin assigning duties left and right should be cautious in doing so. While it’s important to trust the people you work with, it’s also critical that trust is earned, not simply given away. It may take employees some time to adjust to the additions to their workload, and they may initially need some coaching to ensure they deliver on the goods.
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