One thing most successful leaders do well is delegate. Being completely open and honest—this has never come naturally to me. As a busy manager and classic over-committer, I often chose to do something myself that could have been done just as well or better by another member of my team. As a result I spent too much time and energy on stuff I didn’t like to do and wasn’t very good at.
If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In fact, nearly all of the 100+ leadership teams I’ve worked with in the last eight years have at least one member of the team who struggles to “Delegate and Elevate,” which is the name of an EOS Tool we use to resolve this issue. I’ve come to understand there are seven root causes to this issue, and only one of them can be solved without help from your team and organization:
Seven Root Causes of Delegation Issues
1. You, and your unique psychology. You may be a perfectionist, struggle with trust issues, lack patience, don’t like developing others—the list could go on forever. If you’re struggling, look in the mirror first, and work on your own hardwiring.
If you’re willing to do the hard work yourself—strengthening the Six Key Components of your business will increase your chances of success. Items two through seven on this list explain the connection.
2. A strong Vision component means everyone in your company is 100% on the same page with where you going and how you plan to get there. Each team member knows and understands who the company is, what you do, why you do it, and what’s most important—this year and this quarter. That clarity makes it easier for everyone else to grab a ball and run with it when you need to delegate.
3. It’s obvious that strength in the People component helps leaders and managers delegate. When everyone in the company is a “Right Person” (shares your Core Values) in the “Right Seat” (consistently excels at a clearly defined job)—you’ll have far more confidence delegating and elevating to your Unique Ability as a leader.
4. When the Data component is strong, you’ll be running your business on facts and figures that give you an absolute pulse on the business. The leadership team will have a great scorecard, each department manager will have a great scorecard, every team—even every individual will have at least one number that needs to be kept on-track—week in and week out. When one of those numbers veers off-track—you’ll know that the person or team accountable for the number will react and resolve the Issue. That will make it easier for you to “let go of the vine.”
5. That brings us to strength in the Issues component. Imagine every team in your company masters the discipline of getting issues on a list, then prioritizing and resolving them for the long-term greater good. Using the Issues- Solving Track (IDS), that will happen. And when it does, you’ll be putting out fewer fires, and you’ll be confident every team in the company is capable of handling what you’ve delegated.
6. When your Process component is strong, you’ll have documented, simplified and approved the handful of truly Core Processes in your organization—your “secret sauce.” You will know that everyone who touches even a step in those processes has been trained. You will see that actions and results are being measured throughout the organization. And you’ll know that when people aren’t following the process or aren’t getting the desired outcomes—corrective action will be taken.
7. A strong Traction component means everyone in the company is focused on a clear set of priorities that align with your Vision. They’re disciplined about and accountable for completing those priorities every week (To Dos in a Level 10 Meeting) and every quarter (Rocks). Within that framework, it’s very difficult for important balls to be dropped, further building confidence.
If you’re struggling to delegate and elevate to your unique ability, these seven keys can help. When you’re feeling overwhelmed and can’t count on your people—look in the mirror first, then work to strengthen one or more of your Six Key Components. These seven keys have helped me immensely…and they can help you, too.