I Don’t Care What They Say… Delegation Is Hard

“a good leader is a good delegator”

i’ve heard it a million times (probably because i need to lol)… and i believe it fully.  as a leader, you can’t do it all.  nor should you let your insecure self try.

but i just gotta say, this whole delegation thing isn’t as easy as people sometimes make it out to be.

here are 3 big reasons why i find delegation so difficult:

1. you have to delegate the right thing

there are many tasks and responsibilities on each of our desks, and they’re on our desks because we have to make sure they get done. but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be the one to personally do it. but… knowing which ones to take on ourselves and which ones to hand off is the tricky part. i’ve tried to delegate the wrong thing many times, and it ended up not getting done because the person saw it as something i should’ve done in the first place. and i’ve held onto the wrong thing for too long when it should never have stayed on my desk at all.

2. you have to delegate it to the right person

some people are ready for the task we feel like delegating. others are not. some just need to be developed and empowered more before it would really work. i’ve found that when a deadline is approaching and the job needs to get done, it’s easy to hand it off to the first person we see, even though it might not be the best person on the team for that job.

3. you have to delegate it to them at the right time

delegation involves people, and people have personal lives. especially in the context of leading volunteers in a ministry, we have to be super sensitive to the timing of certain requests. while the person being offered the task/responsibility ultimately has the responsibility to accept or decline of their own volition, sometimes it’s not even wise to ask simply because it’s not the right time.

maybe i’m over thinking it, but i believe that with the work of leadership – especially leadership in a church – God deserves our absolute best, and that demands a commitment to excellence. a faithful pursuit of excellence in itself makes this whole delegation business tricky.

do you have any advice for me on how to get better at this?

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One thought on “I Don’t Care What They Say… Delegation Is Hard

  1. Gosh, I wish I had some good advice. All I can offer is some thoughts on why I’ve never been good at delegating. Perhaps it will give you some useful insight.

    Basically, the reason I don’t delegate is that I think I can do whatever it is better than anybody else. I know that sounds pretty arrogant, and prideful. It comes from knowing that I was smart (objectively confirmed by having good grades all through grade school and high school — in college I was finally surrounded by people who were as smart as me, but by then my mindset was formed). So my feeling was summed up by the saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

    In a way, there is probably an element of perfectionism here. If I can do it better than anybody else, then delegation means I have to be willing to settle for the adequate. the “good enough,” rather than insisting on perfection or the best possible.

    Of course, adequate is better than undone because I don’t get around to it, but this is a lesson that I am only slowly learning.

    If some of the potential delegatees are also prone to procrastination, it’s a good idea to give them reminders and interim deadlines, perhaps asking for progress reports now and then.

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