Barriers to an effective delegation in leadership and how you can overcome them

While the benefits of delegating are obvious and plentiful, many leaders still fail to delegate effectively. The reality is that there are several myths and misconceptions about delegating that can make some leaders wary of handing off work to others. What is it about delegation that makes this skill difficult to master for new managers and even for some experienced senior and middle-level managers?

The first reason why leaders might be trapped to hold on to their work and fail to delegate duties and responsibilities is that they are worried that those to whom they delegate to might let them down. We’ve delegated to people in the past and they’ve let us down, so we are reluctant to do it again. We believe in the sayings that “If you want something done properly, do it yourself.” Fear of failure can cause leaders to hold on to work and refuse to delegate.

To overcome this barrier, we need to learn to trust others by giving them work. As a leader, delegating is important because you can’t—and shouldn’t—do everything yourself. Delegating empowers your team, builds trust, and assists with professional development. And for leaders, it helps you learn how to identify who is best suited to tackle tasks or projects. You can’t do it on your own, you need others.

When we think of delegation we are worried about losing our position. We like and enjoy the power that our position gives us – and we don’t want to share that power with anyone else.

To overcome this barrier we need to understand that delegation is not about giving up ultimate authority and responsibility for the work. Delegation is not abdication! It is a shift of decision-making authority from one level in the organization to another, but the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated task.

Sometimes it’s the fear that others will do better than we can. We’re afraid that if we delegate to someone else, then they will do it so well that they will actually overshadow us!

To overcome this barrier talk to yourself and get over it!  Even laugh at your envy if you must!  Once you have intelligently dealt with your own negative emotions, let your talented staff member do what she does best.  Give her full credit as appropriate.   The truth is she makes you look good!  Let her excel and you’ll be known as a manager and leader who can utilize the talents of your staff effectively.

Sometimes it’s due to lack of respect for others. We won’t delegate because we don’t respect the other person. We actually don’t think they’re any good and that they won’t do a good job if they are given something to do.

To overcome this barrier start showing respect to what others are capable of doing, for there is no such thing as a single-handed success. Push aside the pride and show respect for the talent others can bring to the table. When you include and acknowledge all those in your corner, you propel yourself, your teammates and your supporters to greater heights.

Another reason for delegation failure is fear of loss of control. We won’t delegate, because culturally the boss should retain the control.  We fear the loss of control that things won’t be done in the way we expect them to be done. We feel like we can’t let go, we just want to hold on.

To overcome this challenge you need to learn that you can’t do everything yourself. Remind yourself that your team wants to do good work and be successful just like you do. If your employees succeed, you succeed. The important point here is that if we never delegate a task to anyone and if we allow them no freedom to take initiative, they will never develop as people.

If you delegate well, you can increase trust and commitment with your employees, improve productivity, and make sure the right people are performing the tasks that best suit them. So don’t be afraid to pass the baton. It might take some practice to become a great delegator, but if you work at it, you’ll all go further.