“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.” - John C. Maxwell
The wise John C. Maxwell is one of the GOATS on leadership and delegation.
If you haven’t yet, scope a few of his YouTube videos on leadership and thank me later.
But the point of that quote and of this blog is about delegation.
Nobody gets excited about delegation.
But accelerating the value of your time is exciting.
Creating more value from your time accelerates meeting goals, crushing numbers, and expanding.
So, how do you value your time?
This was a question Perry Marshall once asked me when we flew to Chicago to meet him.
It wasn’t an abstract question. He asked how much an hour of my time is worth in dollars and cents?
He proceeded to school us on this by breaking it down with a rubric:
Is your time worth $10 an hour? $100? $1000? $10,000?
While it may seem rhetorical on the surface, the value of your time is a real number.
The value of your time is the inverse of the product or service you’re offering.
Even more important, the value of your time is the inverse of your own ability or delegate.
Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or a new company scratching for your first $100k, you bring value to the marketplace.
And as Jim Collins notes in the fabulous book Good to Great, the market will be brutally honest with you about what that value is.
How Not to Delegate
To understand delegation, it’s important to spot instances where you don’t delegate.
Not delegating bottlenecks you and your organization.
Here’s a personal case in point:
My first job out of college was being a Camp Director.
In fact, I am a recovering Camp Director.
Back then, I had no idea what delegation was. I only knew what I THOUGHT delegation was.
When you have 2,000 campers showing up at a camp, there’s a lot of decisions to make.
Macro-decisions and micro-decisions.
Where’s the first aid located?
Where do we eat for lunch?
Which dorm is Charlie supposed to sleep in?
Who communicates with the University liaison?
Who decides if the sound is too loud in the auditorium?
Who decides when the drama team comes on stage?
Well, as a Camp Director, I took the burden off everyone.
I made all the decisions all the time on behalf of all the camp counselors.
How do you think this made me look as a leader for the Camp?
Rigid. Napoleonic. Hard to approach.
I was an organizational bottleneck, and the camp wasn’t a fun or rewarding experience for myself or my team.
And morale got real low real fast.
Does any of this sound like you as a business owner? Or a manager? Or somebody in charge of a department?
You don’t have to lead this way.
Delegation unlocks organizational bottlenecks and gets you to greener pastures much faster.
It can be hard to let go. I know this first hand.
But there are truths to delegation. Overlooked truths.
Delegating isn’t letting go and relinquishing the responsibility that comes with it.
No, delegation is a choice with truths attached.
7 truths, in fact. Understanding these truths as you delegate more will unlock your true potential and accelerate the growth of your organization and the people around you.
#1: Delegation is Risky
When it came to my Camp Director I had to confront my own brutal facts.
I was an egotistical Camp Director and didn’t want ANYONE to mess up my flow, ruin my reputation, or steal my glory.
I looked at any possibility to delegate as an opportunity taken away from me, not given to someone else.
That was so wrong in hindsight. In your business and in your role, it would be akin to me being unwilling to admit my Implementation Manager knew more about Customer Onboarding than md.
Or, not admitting that my Paid Media Director knew more about LinkedIn Advertising than I did.
And that’s the greater risk of delegating than not.
If you don’t embrace the risk of delegation, you hug the tree of stagnation. There is no way to accelerate your company forward without leaning in to delegation.
You must accept the risk that comes with letting go, and placing bets on your people.
At the end of the day, risk is a friend.
Risk is good.
But what is risk?
Risk is leverage.
It’s the wooden plank you put under the boulder to move that huge rock down the hill.
The more leverage you put on this object, the easier it is to create forward momentum in your company.
You can’t create leverage without risk.
#2: Delegation is a Conveyance of Power
What does conveyance even mean?
In law, it’s defined as the transfer of property or assets.
Think of a company as a factory in the industrial age.
Everyone works in an assembly line to a common goal. It’s hard work, but everyone has fun.
Each person in the factory is working to make the asset - whatever it is you sell.
You are either creating, making, or improving an asset every day.
And the asset you hold in your hands is the big leverage point. It’s the boulder that moves the needle on you or your teams’ key metrics.
And your asset is leverageable and can accelerate your power as an organization.
When you transfer your asset - the piece of the puzzle you move, and place that power into your team, you allow the assembly line to move with more speed and greater certitude.
That puts the power in the collective and not the individual.
#3: Delegation is a Transfer of Trust
Trust ties to risk.
By delegating, you are immediately placing trust into whoever it is you delegate to.
And that in itself is a risk.
It would be easy go back to Camp Director mode and insist you talk weekly with your biggest customer.
Or ensure you are on every onboarding call to make sure everything goes the way you see fit.
But trust creates trust. And without delegation, you won’t create it in any direction.
Instilling that trust on to your people gives them trust in you as a leader. Trust that you have their development and their success in mind.
Without your team's trust, the energy you need from them will never be at the speed you need to grow.
You don’t trust one time.
Trust is a renewable resource.
It’s a windmill. It’s a solar panel.
That trust enables speed and acceleration.
Once you give trust, you earn trust. That empowers your team to move faster.
#4: Delegation Creates a Better Product
How does delegation create a better product?
The ability to split the labor that creates and manages the product comes as a benefit of delegation.
But what’s lost in delegating and the creation of the better product is the feedback loop. Feedback is the secret to improving your product.
And there’s no better way to accelerate feedback than by delegating.
Delegation is multiplication. It is pouring hot gas on the fire of your business and allowing it to spread.
Delegating accelerates feedback so you can invest time into making your product better.
Trusting feedback fosters an honesty from your team. This gets your product better faster, and lets you delegate to faster systems.
That delegated trust enhances competence and confidence in your people’s activities.
#5: Delegation Fosters Collaboration
In 1944, British Engineer Tommy Flowers isolated himself to design the Colossus.
This was the first programmatic computer ever made. Colossus is a major reason that the Allies won the Second World War.
But, Flowers was part of a larger group of codebreakers.
Instead of trusting them and delegating, he chose to isolate himself to make the Colossus.
Thankful as we all are that it worked, how enjoyable must that work have been?
Isn’t it great to not work in a silo and work alone?
Isn’t it fun when you’re not in a vacuum trying to crack codes?
What a lonely existence.
Some of you may be going, I’m there right now.
Don’t stay there.
Isolation is not stable. Delegation overcomes it. You must force yourself to collaborate with those you delegate with and to.
Delegation isn’t a vertical movement, where you direct top down to the subordinates.
That’s the lazy way to think about it.
Delegation is as much horizontal as it is vertical.
It’s not always to a person, either.
At it’s best, delegation is to a system. Sometimes it’s to a method or a way of doing things different to accelerate your business.
And the great thing about delegation is that it can identify your blind spots.
If you have trust in who or what you delegate to, and who you collaborate with, it will help you see the things you don’t see.
That type of collaboration can unlock doors to your business to take you to new places.
You need to bring them in.
Even delegating a thought pattern multiplies your time to productivity and revenue.
#6: Delegation Breaks Down Boundaries and Creates Relationships
Your interdepartmental health depends on breaking down boundaries and forging relationships.
Resisting delegation creates an artificial boundary between yourself and your team.
You become a Napoleonic Camp Director.
You also reject relationships. It’s impossible to build a relationship when you hold all the power and don’t convey any.
Delegation breaks through that isolation and builds on a relationship.
Because delegation has to include more than giving power.
You have to be willing to let go of power.
Be willing to forgive when that power isn’t utilized.
Accept that mistake will happen and correct with empathy and grace.
Because guess what? You are going to screw up, and so will those you delegate to.
It’s not that mistake will happen, it’s how you and your team grow from them.
#7: Delegation Turns Team Member into Leaders
I’m not interested in being a Napoleon taking my team to Waterloo anymore.
I’m more interested in who is my replacement. And who you think your replacement is.
Delegation turns team members into leaders.
What if you don’t have anyone to delegate to?
Well, if that happens, there are three ways to think about delegation to create a leader out of yourself:
Delegation is not always giving someone a checklist.
When you delegate, think of it as its own form of innovation.
What can you innovate around today?
What is something that doesn’t exist that you can bring out of the ether of your company and make it material?
Delegation is optimization.
By delegating, what is something you can make better? What can be more efficient through delegation?
What can move the needle faster? What can save money?
What can make more money?
Time. Make More Money. Save More Money. That’s optimization.
Delegation is replication.
What’s working that you’re not doing enough of?
Triplicate it. Do it at 10x.
Is your Instagram Story ROAS 11:1? W
Why wouldn’t you increase the budget and replicate it?
When you find success, delegate to the success until it ceases to replicate.
Delegation lets you look forward to your team, to your job, or to your day to day.
What can you delegate and to who (or what) that will multiply your influence?
Optimize your impact?
And accelerate your performance?
Remember, your time has a value. It’s on you to place that value.
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