The job of every leader is to continuously make the business better and faster in order to secure its place in the market. A stagnant business leaves room for competition to catch up to your speed and quality, and even surpass you, which would eventually cause you to lose customers. This is why my definition of leadership is never-ending continuous improvement. The challenge every leader faces is how and where to find the time to do it. I’m going to tell you why delegating more effectively is the best strategy you can use to help your business focus on improvement and be more successful.
You may not realize how much of life and business you already delegate to others. Delegation makes the economy go around. The economy works when everyone does what they do best and pays others to do what they do best. When you purchase clothes instead of making them yourself, eat at a restaurant instead of cooking at home, or take a flight instead of driving across the country, you are delegating something to someone else because they are better or faster at it than you would be, and those are the main reasons we delegate: to save time or get better quality on a specific task. Ketchup is a simple example. Instead of taking the time to grow tomatoes and create the perfect ketchup recipe myself, I’m going to pay someone else to make it and sell it in a store. That way I will save time and hopefully get better ketchup.
Delegation in small to mid-size businesses is similar and it works in a couple of ways. The first is outsourcing. Hiring a reputable website company to create and maintain your website should result in getting a better website faster than it would take for you to learn how to design and build one yourself. Delegating the coordination of your annual meeting to a meeting planner who will get it done better and faster than you could is another example. Any task that is not your company’s core business should be considered for delegation to an expert resource in order to get it done better and faster.
The second is delegating tasks within the business. Is someone else in your business more available than you to do it? Is someone better at it than you are? Does someone need to learn the task in order to grow, learn something new, or feel more engaged in their work? What is the economic cost to the company of your time versus someone else’s time?
Whether your decision is to outsource or assign the task to someone within the business, delegation requires money! You will have to pay someone else to do a task or project rather than doing it yourself. That can make delegation a difficult decision. Let’s make it easier. When is delegation a good investment in your business? The number one criterion to consider when deciding to delegate a task or project is: What else could you accomplish with your time if you were not doing this task or project? Delegation is the best answer if you will spend that time working on systems and processes, and figuring out things like: Where are the bottlenecks in your distribution line? Where are you holding things up in the sales cycle? What are the inefficiencies of your packaging process? What is the next addition to your product line? What additional service can you provide for your current clients without incurring additional overhead? How are you reaching your next target market? What can make you better and faster? Delegation is how leaders “make” time to improve the business and move it forward so that the world keeps coming to you for your services. Your business needs you to ensure that it stays relevant and competitive by being committed to continuous improvement. These are tasks that only leaders can do. You can’t delegate leadership.
This pursuit of improvement and moving the business forward can’t be outsourced or handed down the ladder. Working on what only you can do, and delegating the rest, is how you will become better and faster at your core business.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of “if you want something done right you have to do it yourself.” This is not always true. With the right research, communication, training, and follow up, the right people can learn to do it as well, and maybe even better, than you can. It’s a process of letting go and growing the business from the inside out, cultivating competencies which can result in becoming better and faster in the long run. When you delegate within your business, let people know that you will be using your time to build and improve the business. Then, when you implement changes, explain why and how they will benefit the business and improve the bottom line. This will minimize resistance to the changes.
Improving the business is what leadership is all about. If a leader isn’t improving and leading the business forward because they are wrapped up in the day-to-day details, then they are really just managers maintaining the business and keeping it where it is. If a business stays where it is for too long it will eventually be left behind by an ever- moving market. Your business needs you to make sure there is always work to do, make sure the phone continues to ring, make sure the business stays relevant, and make sure you are able to provide job security as well as growth.
Staying focused on the goal of becoming better and faster at your core business is essential to continued growth. Effectively using delegation can allow you to do this by giving you more of your most precious and scarce resource: your time and attention. What could be more beneficial to a business?
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