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To get ahead, stop doing and start delegating

Thursday, March 21, 2013   (3 Comments)
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Michele HansonBy Michele Hanson

As you progress in your career, you will find the need to evolve in how you lead. We many times start our careers in the corporate world at an entry-level position where "doing” or the "how” is an important part of learning and proving our value to the organization. As we progress up that career ladder, taking on higher levels of responsibility and people management, we are challenged with a new form of leadership.

We are now faced with the challenge of letting go and moving toward less "doing” and more "coaching.” This can be a difficult adjustment for women who have worked hard to prove themselves and who are innately perfectionists. We have a difficult time letting go. Yet, if we don’t let go, we cannot focus on the strategic and connection skills that will allow us greater success and the opportunity to move into executive/leadership roles. If we stay in the "weeds,” we cannot effectively lead.

Many women are prone to this "do it all” mentality. We are natural caregivers wanting to help everyone but ourselves. We can be masters of juggling many priorities: work, children, elderly parents, social commitments, volunteer efforts and more.

Not only do we manage many differing activities, but we also believe that every activity/responsibility is of high importance. We give our all to everything. The end result can be higher levels of stress and resulting health issues, not getting the promotion at work, a feeling of incompleteness and guilt over not being able to deliver on commitments.

How do we climb out the "weeds” and begin to enjoy life and see great success in our careers? Delegation – finding opportunities to be less involved in the "doing” and more involved in coaching, leadership and strategic thought.

Take a minute to stop right now and jot down the things that you did today both at work and in your personal life. Take a look at your schedule, your to-do list, and consider all of the non-documented activities. Now ask yourself, "Was there anything that I could have delegated to someone who: Could learn and grow? Had the available time? Is an expert in this area? Has a desire to help?”

If you are coming up with nothing, you need to ask those who work for and with you what they believe you could delegate to them or others. Many emerging leaders find that when they ask this question, they get some wonderful ideas and recommendations. Many female leaders are surprised to find that their employees really want them to let go and to give them opportunities that they’ve been hanging on to. Your boss, peers and direct-reports will give you valuable feedback.

Once you’ve defined key areas for delegation, you need to determine how you will transition those tasks to the receiving individuals. I recommend that you sit down with the person who is picking up the task or project and discuss:

  • What is the ultimate goal?
  • How will we measure success?
  • The specific elements and information needed
  • Is training or resources needed?
  • When will the transition occur?
  • When and how will updates be communicated?

Then, it is important to let go and trust the individual. There may be a learning curve, but maintain your patience with this process. Focus on the longer term benefits of this delegation effort. Start with smaller tasks initially and gradually move to letting go of the larger responsibilities when the opportunity presents itself.

If women are to succeed in the corporate environment, they’ve got to let go of the less strategic tasks and empower their teams. By doing so, they can free up their brains to address higher-level opportunities, to build stronger alliances and to be seen as effective executive leaders.

Michele Hanson is CEO of ExecuInsight LLC, a firm specializing in women’s advocacy, people and organizational effectiveness and sales coaching.

Views expressed in signed blogs and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and sponsors.

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Kimberly Tisdale, CREE INC. says...
Posted Monday, July 8, 2013
For the delegation to be successful, you have to have a set plan to follow up. I like the six tips listed above. They fit any situation!!
Sarah Ciccarello, Clif Bar & Company says...
Posted Thursday, April 4, 2013
This is so true. I often see that the transition from a do-er to leader hinges on ones ability to delegate. I also think we need to differentiate delegation from dumping. An effective leader recognizes that delegation can be a tool for empowering her employees.
Michele Oberkirch, Ferrero says...
Posted Thursday, April 4, 2013
I appreciate this article. it reminds me that I need to delegate more! I think the perfectionist in me keeps me from delegating to others.

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