RLL 23: Delegation and Humility
As a teacher, my single least favorite task is grading essays, and as a soccer coach my least favorite aspect of the job is keeping up with jerseys and shorts. I love teaching history: the subject matter fascinates me, the students are bundles of potential, and I have my own coffee pot in my classroom. What could be better? I also love coaching soccer: the smell of grass, the beauty of the game, the hard work and life lessons; all of those things are wonderful. But sometimes I feel overwhelmed, and that has been especially true this year.
Most people, whether teenagers in high school, students in college, members of the workforce (to say nothing of a parent or head of a company), know the feeling I’m talking about: too much to do, too little time; no matter what you get done, it feels like the list keeps getting longer; a creeping sense that there’s no possible way to get everything done as well as it needs to be done. So, what’s the solution?
In the past couple of years, I have been consciously working on improving my own ability to perform one of the most crucial aspects of leadership: delegation. Delegation is the solution. In learning how to do this better, I have discovered a few things about it that I wanted to share with you. Whether at home, in my classroom, in my soccer program, or in a business, delegation is a key component of leadership, and here are a few ways it will benefit not just you but your entire group.
First, delegation is a perfect example of what Confident Humility is all about. Remember, Confident Humility is about using your gifts and talents in the service of others, and leadership is the art of positively influencing those around you to help them become better versions of themselves. Delegation is perhaps the simplest way of putting those ideas into action in a practical way. In order to delegate, a leader must be confident enough not to feel threatened by another person performing a crucial role or task, and he or she must also be humble enough to admit that another person might be better suited to that task, whatever it may be.
Second, delegation is crucial if you as the leader are to be the best you can be: that is, by assigning or giving tasks to others on your team, you free yourself up to focus more on whatever you are best at. I once heard delegation described this way: sure, the president or CEO could help clean his office or make the coffee, and sometimes that’s appropriate; but if the CEO spends all of his or her time doing that, who is making the crucial business decisions? By delegating, you free yourself up to focus on the most importants tasks of your role, rather than spending time and energy on something that another person could have done just as well.
Third, delegation allows the various members of your team or group to also showcase their strengths. If you as a leader have done your job and hired people who are complementary to you in terms of their various skill sets, then there are members of your team who are better than you are different things. Recognize that, and use that to the benefit of the whole team or group.
Let me give you an example.Within my soccer program, both of my assistants (in addition to being good at coaching) are extraordinary player-managers, forming great relationships with the kids. One of them loves the administrative work: forming rosters, keeping track of various stats, and taking are of uniform issues. My other assistant loves focusing on the defensive aspects of the game. When it comes time to work on defending, or if I’m having a difficult time with a player or group of players, or when it’s time to do the various administrative work, then instead of me trying to fix all these issues at once, I can allow each of my assistants to focus on these tasks, especially since they are likely to perform them better than I would anyway! This has a variety of benefits: the players receive more direct attention, the assistant coaches get the satisfaction of doing crucial work with the team, and they grow in confidence due to being trusted with those roles.
Allowing the other members of your team to get involved has one additional benefit as well, and this is something that all leaders should be thinking about regularly: it is helping train them to be the next set of leaders. In my case, by delegating various tasks to my assistants, it helps them prepare to become head coaches. When I give certain tasks in my classroom to the students, trusting them to take care of certain things, it helps them develop confidence and skill sets they’ll use in the future. By delegating certain chores at home, I’m helping my children learn what it will be like when they are adults and live on their own.
Lastly, I’ve learned that delegation is not something to be done simply after I’m feeling overwhelmed. Rather, it’s much better to begin delegating much earlier, before things get too crazy. I encourage you to look around and see what tasks your leadership team can help you perform and how much that would benefit the whole group. Then, be sure to trust your team to perform them; guide them, but don’t micromanage. Remember, part of the exercise is to learn to better trust others, and this will also help them grow in confidence.
Action Step: this week, ask your leadership team what tasks or type of tasks they truly enjoy, and then see how you can delegate certain jobs that will play to their various strengths. Be sure to email me and let me know how it goes!