In our first session with a new client, Focus Day™, we tell the story of a hiker who takes a perilous fall and ends up clinging precariously to a vine. The point of the story is that you’ll be hanging precariously forever until you find a way to let go of that vine. “Letting Go of the Vine” becomes a metaphor for delegation: our willingness to let go of things that just aren’t a good use of our time.
I hit this point again later in the EOS Process® when I teach a tool called Delegate and Elevate™. The tool helps leaders identify those things that are on their plate but would be better delegated to someone else, so those leaders can maximize the value they provide to the organization.
Sometimes leaders I work with give me all the reasons why they can’t let those things go. Sometimes those reasons are legitimate. But sometimes the big barrier is simply the leader’s willingness to let go of the vine.
“They can’t do it as well as I can!” is a popular excuse I hear. My answer is always the same:
How Good is Good Enough?
If someone else can do it 90% as well as you, or 80% or even 70%, what will happen? Will you lose customers? Will you lose money? Will your business fail? Often as not, it doesn’t need to be perfect (“perfect” defined as however well you do it).Part of the problem is that we’ve all been told a terrible lie all our lives: “If you want something done right you have to do it yourself”. Not only is that not true, it is a recipe for a miserable life.
A business simply can’t scale if its leaders are bogged down in menial tasks that prevent them from getting to more important work. So I implore leaders to decide how good is “good enough”? Where do you set the bar? All you need to do is find someone who has the ability to get over that bar and spend enough time with that person to teach them how to do it.
“That will take longer than if I just do it myself!” I then hear. Perhaps that is true… the first time. But if it is something you do all the time, then that training is an investment in YOUR future. Because the second time that person will do better and will need less of your help to do it. And the third time will go even better. Soon they will be doing it as well as you could – and you won’t be involved at all.
Moreover, that task which is a mundane annoyance for you may be a stretch assignment for the person you delegate to, which may excite and motivate them while giving them the opportunity to grow.
This is why “Delegate” is one of the Five Leadership Abilities™ we teach and stress in EOS. But delegation only works when leaders are willing to let go of the vine. What vines should YOU be letting go of?
Previously published on the Freebridge blog